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10 Great Climbing Movies

If you’re a vertigo sufferer, perhaps 10 great climbing movies will make you look away now…But for those who love the thrill of watching mountaineers overcome near impossible odds, gravity and themselves as they scale and descend dizzyingly high peaks – then this is the climbing movie genre list for you. Even if you don’t have a head for heights, have a peek (or peak?) at one or two anyway – there’s summit (!) for everyone, just don’t look down…

The Dawn Wall (2018)

best climbing movies number 1 the dawn wall

At 3,000-feet high, the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is one of the hardest near-vertical climbs in the world. In a seven-year project, free climber Tommy Caldwell attempts to overcome not just the wall, but also his demons, in this epic, emotional and inspirational documentary.
Directors: Josh Lowell & Peter Mortimer

Free Solo (2018)

Staying with El Capitan, Free Solo depicts free climber and almost-superhuman athlete Alex Honnold’s attempt to scale the mountain’s sheer cliff face – entirely without a rope. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, the gut-wrenching character study film will have you on the edge of your seat as Honnold and his family face down his seemingly impossible challenge.  
Directors: Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Meru (2015)

Both a story of survival and of mountaineering at the limits of what’s humanly possible, Meru depicts the obsessive nature of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk as they struggle to scale the 21,000-ft ‘Shark’s Fin’ of Meru in the Himalayas. Venturing into the unknown, there was no guarantee they’d come back alive. 
Directors: Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Cliffhanger (1993)

Amidst all the life-and-death seriousness of mountaineering, let’s have a bit of action-packed fun. Former mountain rescuer Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) is roped into helping a group of stranded hikers in the Rocky Mountains. But the group turn out to be criminals searching for their $100m stash… and only Walker can take them down.
Director: Renny Harlin

Everest (2015)

Climbing the world’s highest mountain is no picnic – even seasoned mountaineers still perish on it almost every year. Based on the real events of 10th May 1996, climbers from two expeditions (Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal) are hit by a massive storm as they ascend the summit, and then forced to survive against nearly impossible odds. 
Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Valley Uprising (2014)

Back to Yosemite, and a film which wonderfully depicts the historically counter-culture, anti-establishment nature of climbing. A delve into the roots of rock climbing, Valley Uprising charts the progress made by climbers from the amateur enthusiasts of the 1950s to the professional ‘rock’-star (sorry) free climbers of today.
Directors: Nick Rosen & Peter Mortimer

Edie (2017)

After her controlling husband dies, Edie Moore (Shiela Hancock) sets off on a lifelong dream to climb Suilven, a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, before she has to move to a retirement home – and thirty years after her father planned the trip. Hancock puts in an emotional and inspirational performance into this character study movie in her 80s.     
Director: Simon Hunter

A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

Back in the Scottish Highlands again, and things take a more sinister twist as five mountaineers stumble across a young girl buried alive in a chamber in the wilderness. As they try to reach the nearest village to get help, they soon realise their lives are also in danger… 
Director: Julian Gilbey

127 Hours (2010)

Mountaineer Aron Ralston (James Franco) literally finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place when his arm becomes trapped when out hiking in Utah in 2003. But he has no phone, and he didn’t tell anyone where he was going. The only way to free himself will be to do the unthinkable… An inspirational documentary-type retelling of a real-life story that shouldn’t be missed!
Director: Danny Boyle

Touching the Void (2003)

One of the greatest mountaineering survival tales ever told, the docudrama film follows Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’ near-fatal descent of a mountain in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. When Simpson breaks his leg and has to be lowered down, inch by inch, in perilous conditions, their lives are literally left hanging by a thread.
Director: Kevin Macdonald

Hopefully, this has inspired you to watch some of the best climbing movie thrills (and spills)? Agree? Disagree? Which climbing movies would you recommend or have we missed any? Drop us a line at or leave us a comment on our Facebook page.

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