‘Black Ice’ Shows That Ice Climbing Can Be Colorblind

The new short film, Black Ice, tells the story of a group of Black men from Memphis, TN, who travel to the climbing mecca of Hyalite Canyon, MT, for their first ice climbing experience. The men learned about indoor rock climbing at Memphis’ Rox Gym, but it wasn’t until they met The North Face athlete, Conrad Anker, that their dreams extended to frozen vertical pillars a long way from home.

Memphis ice climbers to Montana
Chris Dean Champ Miller - courtesy TNF/Sender Films

Memphis is not known for rock climbing, much less ice climbing. But an indoor rock gym and an elite group of The North Face alpinists has changed that. The movie (part of the Reel Rock Tour’s 2020 lineup) is a 35-minute-long tale that traces the climbers’ journey into the harsh, cold and often inhospitable world of ice climbing. In addition to learning how to use axes and crampons to ascend frozen waterfalls, the men are faced with attempting a difficult, inherently dangerous sport. Fortunately, they have a trio of seasoned hardmen—Anker, as well as Monoah Ainuu, and Fred Campbell—to show them the ropes. It’s not always easy, and despite the difficult conditions, there’s plenty of humor.

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Memphis ice climbers to Montana
Filmmaker Malik Martin Champ Miller - courtesy TNF/Sender Films

Black Ice filmmaker Jonathan “Malik” Martin had actually never been on an airplane or even traveled far from Memphis when he embarked on the adventure. The film tells their story of heading into intimidating territory, learning how to stay warm and on their feet in cold, slippery conditions, and how people from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds can come together to share their love of the mountains.

Buy tickets to stream the full film through this holiday weekend at reelrocktour.com.

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