With Sendtember and Rocktober, as they are affectionately known by the climbing community, upon us, and ski season close on their heels, fall means one thing to mountain-loving folks: It's time to get psyched to head to the hills. But shy of getting out to hike in The Enchantments, climb at Leavenworth, or ski at Crystal Mountain yourself, there’s no better alternative than watching your heroes bust a move on the big screen, while surrounded by drop-dead gorgeous landscapes and with an adult beverage in hand.
Luckily, a bumper crop of mountain films and festivals are headed to town this fall and winter that will give you ample opportunity to do just that. Here, six mountain film festivals in Seattle that will make you feel like you’re crushing it in the alpine—without having to move a muscle.
Ok, so it's not exactly a festival, but we'd be remiss in not mentioning the September 18 national release of the big-budget, big-screen flick that has climbing circles buzzing. This star-studded movie portrays the infamous 1996 disaster on the world’s tallest peak, based on journalist Jon Krakauer’s account in Into Thin Air. Watching the A-list cast of Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Keira Knightly contend with avalanches, precarious ladders up walls of ice, a monster storm, and heartbreak might not make you want to follow in their characters' crampon prints, but it will get your heart pumping. (That counts as cardio training, right?)
2. Reel Rock 10
Those who live for stacking pads, clipping bolts, or plugging cams won’t want to miss Reel Rock—the high-energy film festival that celebrates all things climbing. This year’s lineup features rock stars Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell making the Fitz Roy Traverse in A Line Across the Sky, Daniel Woods conquering some highballs in High and Mighty, Honnold defending his title in Showdown at Horseshoe Hell, Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s epic ascent of the Dawn Wall, and a tribute to the late Dean Potter.
Showing Sept. 23 and 24 at AMC Oak Tree in Seattle, and Nov. 14 at Vertical World Seattle
3. Paradise Waits
For some people, the cold season can’t get here soon enough. The folks at Teton Gravity Research, an action sports media company, feel your pain: In their new ski and snowboard film, Paradise Waits, they documented the frustrations of athletes like Angel Collinson, Johnny Collinson, and Ian McIntosh during the frustrations that winter pulled on us last year. But don’t worry—after the long wait, the stars eventually found their powder. And their amped-up attitude about it will help tide you over until you do, too.
Showing Oct. 8 at the Neptune Theater in Seattle, with two show times: the 6:30 pm family-friendly show and the 9:30 pm “rowdy” show.
4. Telluride Mountain Film World Tour
With a goal to educate galvanize audiences around “issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving, adventures worth pursuing and conversations worth sustaining,” if there’s one word to describe the Telluride Mountain Film Festival, it’s inspiring. The 13 short films chosen to play in Seattle, including 55 Hours in Mexico, Force, and The Fisherman’s Son, will take you on a riveting tour up mountains, down rivers, and across seas with a thoughtful, reflective tone that cuts to the heart of wilderness as vital, spiritual spaces.
5. 5Point Film Festival
The weekend-long 5Point Film Festival is coming back to Bellingham this year, creating the perfect opportunity for a fun mini-vacation from Seattle. The focus of the adventure-centric program is, of course, the films that will be shown each evening. Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia kicks off the event, which tells the story of the man behind the climbing legend and his struggles with a terminal disease that has slowly stripped away his physical and mental abilities. A selection of awe-inspiring short films will then be shown over the next two evenings, along with picnics and parties with live music, food, and Sierra Nevada beer, and a discussion with athletes and filmmakers on Saturday morning.
Showing Oct. 15-17 at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham
6. Banff Mountain Film Festival
The Banff Mountain Film Festival, the largest mountain film festival in the world, is perhaps the most iconic of them all. The festival tours cities in about 35 countries across the globe, bringing the “spirit of outdoor adventure” along with it—and, yes, Seattle is on its hit list. Expect a night packed full of action, inspiration, and jaw-dropping landscapes.
Showing Dec. 9-10 at The Mountaineers in Seattle