Based on his best-selling auto-biography of the same name, Psycho Vertical is a raw and emotive study of the complex life and motivations of writer, funny-man and Britain’s unlikeliest hero-mountaineer, Andy Kirkpatrick, woven into an 18-day solo ascent of El Cap.
The film explores the intricate mind of Andy Kirkpatrick, a world-class climber and alpinist who lives a life of conflicting desires and identities.
Firmly grounded by his impoverished upbringing in 1970s Hull, from a young age Andy’s head has been in the clouds, filled with grand ideas of discovering who he is and what exactly he’s made of, spurred on by his father’s absence and translated into ascents of some of the world’s most dangerous alpine routes.
Though he knows the pain of living in poverty, pursuing his dreams comes before making a living. While compelled to share his chaotic personal life and make audiences crumple with laughter on stage, he chooses to test himself on some of the world’s longest and most difficult climbs totally alone.
A proud father, he cannot help but put ambition over security, even if that means risking his life time and again. By exploring his past, his present and his motivation for pushing his limits to the absolute extreme, the film follows him on an 18-day, solo ascent of El Capitan.
We see that life on the wall is precarious, tough and “crushingly lonely,” creating a raw and intimate portrait of one of climbing’s most controversial, unpredictable and celebrated figures and as a result, exploring how our pasts shape us, drive us forward and stay with us all our lives.
The film will screen at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival at the end of the month. More info here.