The Alpinist: Amazing Life Lessons on the Frontiers of Climbing
The documentary tracks the amazing career and life of a brilliant but relatively unknown young Canadian Solo Alpinist Marc-Andre Leclerc.
This movie description says it all.
“Marc-André Leclerc climbs alone, far from the limelight. On remote alpine faces, the free-spirited 23-year-old Canadian makes some of the boldest solo ascents in history. Yet, he draws scant attention. With no cameras, no rope, and no margin for error, Leclerc’s approach is the essence of solo adventure.”
I was captivated by his climbing and just how he lived his life. He was not interested in fame but only in pushing himself, pushing the edge of solo climbing and chasing the purity of the climb. Marc-Andre climbed just for the sake of climbing. And wow, the breathtaking views. The cinematography alone is worth watching. Something about the pristine, beautiful mountain vistas.
“When you are in the mountains with a mission. It’s like all the superficialities of life just sort of evaporate. You can find yourself in a deeper state of mind. You appreciate everything so much that you take for granted most of the time.”
There is something scary yet impressive with alpinists. Man versus nature where nature usually wins. Alpinist Rainhold Messner said: “Maybe half of the leading solo climbers of all times died in the mountains. But this is the philosophy. For going in an adventure, you need difficulties, you need danger. If death, was not a possibility, coming out would be nothing. It would be kindergarten, but not an adventure”
Yet Marc threw himself into climbing with energy and verve. As they said, “he just went for it.” This is a guy who solo-ed Mountain Robson in the Rockies, he also tried climbing the pinnacle of Torre Egger (Argentina) in a blizzard. He was unsuccessful making the summit but made it down safely. A big deal by itself. But then in a second attempt he makes the summit. An incredible feat.
So many parallels to life in climbing.
“The actual achievement doesn’t really change your life like you think it might, when you are building up to it. But what you’re left with is the journey that got you to that point, and if you have this big journey where you had to figure a lot of stuff out, you had to plan, and it was more immersive, and you were somewhere very beautiful for a long time, and then had to work really hard, and overcome some kind of mental barrier, you’re left with so much more of a story or like a memory and an experience.That’s what i find is the most important.” — Marc-Andre
“Undeniable that everytime you go to the mountains it could be your last time. So you have to appreciate. Whatever dinner you’d want to be your last dinner, you have to eat it.” — Marc-Andre
“The whole game is very simple. We go somewhere we should not go. Where our own instinct is telling us ‘do not go there.’ Many things can happen. We can fall. The storm could take me away. We know that we can die up there. But still we go there. We try to make real our dreams. Our visions.” — Reinhold Messner
Sadly, Marc-Andre died in an avalanche while scaling a mountain in Alaska. He was 25 years old. But he died doing something he loved. This is more than most people can say.
One of his friends said: “He was one of a kind. He was an individual, individual. He just burned very bright…and he left an indelible mark on a lot of people in a short time, didn’t he.”
What a tribute. Let’s hope we all can have the impact and live a small sliver of the rich life that Marc-Andre did. He lived his dreams. We should do the same.