Review: "Cold Haul" DVD

Cold Haul - Front CoverFellow Brits Andy Kirkpatrick and Ian Parnell make the second ascent of the Lafaille route on the West face of the Dru (A4, Scottish VII) in winter. The DVD features a lot of hard aid climbing, mostly in bad weather.

The best thing about this film is what it’s not. It’s not some huge staged production. There are a ton of those out there already. Often shot with a dedicated camera crew in fantastic weather. Complete with staged shots of people taking leader falls and stepping onto virgin summits. All the while clad in brand spanking new gear provided by the film’s sponsors. And, in the time it takes you to say “Team North Face” you have a climbing film – albeit a formulaic one.

This big production approach is the antithesis of “Cold Haul”. The film is what you get when two guys and a couple of video cameras try something hard without a bunch of other people along to do the filming for them. Predictably the film quality suffers as a result. It’s hard to take good footage when you have to concentrate on the business of actually climbing and, in some cases, being scared stupid all at the same time. To me this makes the film ring that much truer. It certainly echos my own winter climbing experiences.

There’s a lot of tent footage/portaledge of Ian and Andy trying to keep their spirits up in less than ideal conditions. Which is pretty much the crux of alpine climbing – persistance. Wet gear and insufficient food day on day just grind you down. The dry Kirkpatrick humour is in full effect, especially when cooking. Not that there aren’t some good shots of the pair in action in both good and bad weather. There are also several interesting extras including an interview with Lafaille.

Like the other reviewer (below) I struggled a bit with some of the editing and actually using some of the interactive features of the DVD. Having said that, the authentic nature of the footage more than makes up for this.

Useful Links:

planetFear – for another review of this DVD – Andy’s web site – Ian’s web site