Film: 'Assault on El Capitan'

Mountain Leadership Institute and the Columbia Center for the Arts present a screening of “Assault on El Capitan,” a film on the legend and the truth about Wings of Steel, the most controversial climb in Yosemite history. Experience the story of a rock climb on El Capitan that endured nearly 30 years of controversy. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., film will begin at 7. In 1982 two young men in their early 20s, Mark Smith and Richard Jensen, made the first ascent of Wings of Steel on El Capitan in Yosemite. Over the course of 39 days on the wall, they endured personal attacks and death threats while establishing what became known as Yosemite’s most controversial route. Wings of Steel waited 29 years for a second ascent during which time, a slander campaign raged against Smith and Jensen on climbing forums and around the climbing community. In July 2011, 42-year-old Ammon McNeely — the El Cap Pirate — and Kait Barber, his 22-year-old girlfriend, set out to climb the never-repeated Wings of Steel. Shrouded in controversy and with a bounty waiting for the second ascent team, there seemed to be no better person to climb it than McNeely, with a climbing resume including 75 climbs on 61 different routes up El Capitan. But was Barber the best choice for a partner? The climb would test of their ability and their relationship. Logging over 500 feet of falls, a dislocated shoulder and more than one breakdown, McNeely presses on up the wall. Barber sits anxiously on a portaledge watching the person she loves suffer fall after fall. For 13 days McNeely and Barber fight on and up. The story of Wings of Steel is part legend and part myth. Combined with footage shot during the second ascent and told through interviews with the first ascent team, their detractors, climbing historians and McNeely and Barber, the truth about the Yosemite’s most controversial climb is finally told. Ammon McNeely, filmmaker Jeff Vargen and Mark Smith of the first ascent team will be present for questions following the film. Tickets: $10 available at the door or online at Proceeds will support Mountain Leadership Institute and its work in the Kumari region of Nepal.


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