In Autumn of 2021, Gripped interviewed SOHI climber Zach Galla on his experience making the recently released bouldering film Confluence. The film, directed by Bobby McGee Vanoy, premiered on February 27 in Salt Lake City. The next day, it became available everywhere on Mellow’s YouTube channel. It is the best bouldering film of 2022 so far.
Of course, that which makes a bouldering film potent is changeable. Naturally, a limit pushing ascent has a certain attraction, but the art of the climbing edit can be beautiful when done well. Such a style has not been seen at this level since Nathaniel Davison’s Rooftown Series. Vanoy and his team of athletes brought back tight edits and clean execution with the release of this most recent bouldering film.
The story opens with Canadian climber Sean Faulkner. Faulkner is best known for his recent silver medal at Canadian Boulder Nationals. He also earned fourth-place at both Canadian and American lead Nationals. The World Cup climber has only progressed over the course of this last year, and he brought those progressive efforts to the rock around Little Cottonwood Canyon.
The film acts as a sampling platter for those that have maybe heard of, but never been to, Little Cottonwood. It offers a unique series of recently famous boulder problems, as well as brand new first ascents. Faulkner’s Dunks on Deck V14 first ascent was included in Gripped’s best new boulders of 2021. It is easily one of the more aesthetic lines you are likely to see anywhere.
Faulkner’s section of the film also includes footage of a beautiful V11 first ascent of Red Letter Day Low.
The film then turns to Toinon Beigné and his flash of Blue Steel, one of the most published V8’s in the country. After Yosemite’s Midnight Lightening, Blue Steel may be the United States most photographed V8 problems of 2021 and may be the most sought after problem in the entire canyon. Euro Roof is also up for that title.
Zach Galla concluded the film with his first ascent of Confluence, a V13 and the film’s title boulder. The problem is a powerful example of what Little Cottonwood has to offer. The steep granite climbing may be even better than Dunks on Deck, though both problems appear so clean that picking between them would probably reduce to preference.
The finals climb of the film is the long-awaited footage of Galla climbing The Grand illusion, a mega V16 roof climb that helped put Little Cottonwood Canyon on the map.
In the end, the credit must got to Vanoy for his effort toward making this film around his subjects. Between the audio and video editing, Vanoy brings audiences into the headspace of his subjects. Although Vanoy did not invent a new type of climbing film, he set a new standard for a bouldering edit. 27-minutes never flew by so fast in a film functionally void of dialogue. The visual storytelling did not need supporting language structures. Absolutely brilliant.
Featured image by Sean Faulkner