Synopsis: It’s the great irony of climbing.We are simultaneously drawn and repelled by the ferocity of the world’sgreatest mountains. For the last decade, climber and photographer MikeySchaefer has been making the annual pilgrimage to El Chalten to ferret out newroutes on the massive granite teeth that inspired him as a young climber. Alongthe way, these mountains have become a part of him. The photos he tookalong the way propelled him into a career in photography. Over the last fiveyears, Mikey has been collecting footage from his climbs and misadventures. Woven together, it tells a story of success, fear, joy and growth. Now,Mikey’s images capture the imagination of young climbers who make thepilgrimage to this wind-swept wilderness.
Five years ago, photographer Mikey Schaefer started showing me clips from his climbs in Patagonia. Returning year after year, it was clear he’d built a lifelong relationship with this landscape. He’d come to embrace the wind and storms that terrify so many climbers. Year by year, he established first ascents on each of the Fitz Roy Massif’s iconic peaks,something no climber had ever done. Along the way, he began his career as a photographer and discovered he had a unique gift for pulling out the camera at the most difficult moments. I knew we had a story about passion, creativity and wild places, so I waited patiently. I watched as Mikey’s passion for climbing developed into something more — creativity, reverence and stewardship. Mikey became an accomplished photographer capable of landing a National Geographic cover or becoming a staff favorite on Instagram. I saw him share his inspiration and encourage the next generation of climbers and creatives.
To tell Mikey’s story, we took a unique approach. Patagonia has a way of reeking havoc on film crews, so wedecided to crowdsource footage from the climbing community. We pulled together footage from dozens of climbers shot over the course of the last six years. We supplemented this with footage from our own time in El Chalten, which we used to capture the connecting visuals of our story. We believed that the rough footage enabled us to see the power of this wild landscape reflected in the faces, emotions and voices of climbers.
Fitz Cahall is the founder of the Dirtbag Diaries and the creative director at Duct Tape Then Beer, which is a bizarre but wonderful amalgamation of a creative rocket ship, grassroots community building agent and advertising agency. He likes riding bikes in the nude and street riots on LSD. Currently, he is being flippant because he can’t think about what to write about himself. Only some of this can be confirmed by outside sources.
5 Point Film Festival - United States - 2015