Outdoors

Climbing filmmaker Pat Ament's ode to mentor John Gill: Gill Through the Ages

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Westword: This is your second film on John Gill and his legacy in climbing. How does it add to what you accomplished with The Disciples of Gill?

Pat Ament: It's actually my third film about Gill! I made another little 16mm film years ago, a little tiny short thing, but I still had all this old footage, and I wanted to do something bigger with it because I realized I was one of the only people who had any footage of John Gill. When I put together The Disciples of Gill, it was such a joy to go back and look at those old film reels, and the film was very well received by the climbing community as I toured across the country with it. Well, a year went by, and I still had so much more material and so many things that I wanted to talk about that I decided to made another film. Sort of like The Godfather Part II, you know?

The new film is called Gill Across Time. He was born in 1937 and had been a competitive speed rope climber at the University of Georgia Tech in his early days, in the late '50s. He could climb to the top of a gym in 3.8 seconds, which is faster than you can pull a rope through your hands if you're just standing there -- I mean, you just can't even pull a rope through your hands that fast. In his day, he was also the world's greatest boulderer, just absolutely phenomenal. He could do one-finger pullups on any one of his first two fingers on either hand, and he invented a thing called a one-arm front lever where he makes his body horizontal while he's hanging with one arm -- just an amazing feat, and it made it possible for him to climb routes that nobody else could even comprehend at the time. That combination of tremendous strength and balance helped him see possibility in some of the wildest places. He really shaped the sport of climbing because of it.
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Colin Bane
Contact: Colin Bane