Have some down time during the holiday season? Here are a few of my favorite action sports and outdoorsy movies. I think you’ll like them, too.
1. McConkey (2013)
Want to get stoked for ski season? This is the movie for you. In case you don’t know, Shane McConkey was a free-skiing pioneer that helped to shape the sport into what it is today. This movie will make you laugh, it will make your jaw drop … you might even cry. This is probably my favorite movie on this list, which is why it steals the top spot.
2. Free Solo (2018)
This one won a well-deserved Oscar. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve been missing out. Free Solo follows Alex Honnold as he scales El Capitan’s Freerider route with no ropes. The videography is stunning — your hands will sweat.
3. UnReal (2015)
Perhaps one of the most creative mountain biking movies out there, the riders in UnReal tackle lines down glaciers, among wild horses, and beyond. This one isn’t a documentary — it’s more a bunch of adrenaline-inducing segments strung together with a perfect soundtrack. If getting around on two wheels is your thing, this one is for you.
4. Dawn Wall (2018)
Another great climbing movie, Dawn Wall is all about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson making the 19-day ascent up … well, Dawn Wall. The film also features Caldwell’s unique background story, including the tale of when his group was kidnapped during a climbing trip in Kyrgyzstan and forced to do the unthinkable to survive.
5. All This Mayhem (2014)
Most of the movies on this list are feel-good for the most part — All This Mayhem isn’t. It tells the story of two Australian skateboarders — Tas and Ben Pappas — as they spiral from being the best in the world into a world of self-destruction that ends with a suspicious death.
6. Valley Uprising (2014)
Valley Uprising is all about the history of climbing in Yosemite. Whether you’ve been on the rock wall before or not, you’ll likely find this film interesting from an educational standpoint as it winds through the development of the sport of rock climbing.
7. URBEX: Adventures Through the Concrete Jungle (2016)
URBEX: Adventures Through the Concrete Jungle covers a controversial style of climbing also known as urban exploring. This involves scaling manmade objects such as towers, bridges, etc. An 8-part series, this Red Bull production will have you freaking out as athletes perform death-defying stunts high above the pavement.
8. Meru (2015)
Meru documents the first ascent up the Shark’s Fin route of Meru in the Himalayas. It’s directed by the same couple that directed Free Solo — Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. It’s a gripping story of persistence and triumph, giving a great look at the intensity of mountaineering.
9. Mountain (2017)
Narrated by Willem Dafoe, Mountain offers a visually stunning experience that covers the human relationship with some of the world’s highest peaks. This one is worth watching for the footage alone.
10. Sherpa (2015)
Sherpa started out as a simpler documentary covering Phurba Tashi, a Sherpa that has climbed Everest 21 times. However, after a massive avalanche occurs during filming that kills 16 Sherpas, the story pivots in a big way.
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