Q&A with Max Krimmer, Filmmaker behind “Huntsmen,” the New Bouldering Film

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Filmmaker and climber Max Krimmer spent nearly 18 months with a cadre of wildly talented climbers shooting one of the most anticipated bouldering films in recent memory. The film, titled Huntsmen, premieres this Saturday, September 20, 2014, in Boulder, Colo.

It was shot all around Southern Colorado, within a few hours of Krimmer’s (then) home base of Colorado Springs. But the hitch is that they didn’t hit up the typical locations. In the bouldering community, “developing” is the term for hiking out to remote places in search of new climbing areas. It can be time-consuming and frustrating – often with far more walking than climbing. But in Max’s words, “Finding that one perfect cliff or boulder makes it all worth it.”

Huntsmen is an ode to the fun, the frustration and the passion that fuels these men and women to keep seeking new rock, new problems and new spaces. If you can’t make it to Boulder this weekend, watch the trailer here, then stream or download the film through Vimeo On Demand ($14.99).

Ibex Question: What’s the film about?

Max Krimmer (MK): Huntsmen is about a group of climbers who decide to venture into the mountains and canyons of southern Colorado in search of virgin rock and first ascents. It’s an exploration of the camaraderie and sense of community that comes with spending hours in the backcountry with your friends – looking for that one perfect climb, and the selfless act of sharing those discoveries with others. More than anything, the film is a tribute to the sport we all know and love and a testament to the amazing things you can find if you just go searching.

Ibex: Where did the idea come from?

MK: The idea of “development” has always fascinated me because it really embodies a selfless act. Developers put in the time and money, they build the trails, scrub the moss and dirt off the boulders, spend hours hiking and bushwhacking and then turn around and gift that area to an entire community of people. Of course, there will always be areas that are kept secret (and those restrictions typically exist for good reason), but in general, establishing a boulder problem is about bringing your own vision and creativity to a stoic, uncaring piece of rock, and then sharing that experience with others. The idea behind Huntsmen was to illustrate this process and inspire other climbers to seek out something new and different in their own backyards.

Ibex: Who are the climbers in Huntsmen?

MK: Huntsmen has a really fun and varied cast of climbers and narrators. While so many people have contributed to Colorado Springs bouldering over the years, and so many stories are worth telling, I decided to limit myself to a handful of narrators who could really talk about where bouldering in that region has been, where it’s at, and where it’s headed in the future.

Ander Rockstad, Hayden Miller, Bryan Johnson, Daniel Woods and Austin Geiman have all been a part of that process in different ways and at different times over the years, and ultimately provide a really humble and thoughtful narrative on what it was like to interact with these very special areas and boulder problems. In the spirit of community, the cast of climbers is even more diverse, and consists of roughly 20 local and visiting climbers, including: Ryan Silven, Griffin Whiteside [Ed. Note: Griffin is sponsored by Ibex], Jimmy Webb and Alex Manikowski.

Ibex: Griffin Whiteside is what some might consider a young gun. How does his style compare to the older generation of boulders?

MK: It was great working with Griffin Whiteside on this project. He made two separate trips out to Colorado to hangout and film, and in that time basically did every boulder we showed him. Most notably, he landed an ascent of Te Cuelgas Guey (V13) – an amazing boulder problem that Daniel Woods ends up sending in the film. Griff definitely had a different energy than some of the older athletes I got to work with. Watching him climbing in southern Colorado was like watching a kid in a candy store, he’d book a five-day trip to stay with us and by the end of his second day all his fingertips would have huge bloody gashes on them from climbing everything in sight – he doesn’t know when to stop!

Ibex: What is your best memory from the experience?

MK: Over the last 10 years, local climber and Sport Climbing Center co-owner, Austin Geiman, has really been at the forefront of bouldering development, and has discovered and developed countless boulder problems in the Pike’s Peak region. Getting to hike around with him and document his process was a great experience for me – he is without a doubt one of the most motivated developers in Colorado, and it was a real honor to document so many of his first ascents.

Additionally, getting to shoot Austin, Daniel and Jimmy as they went to war against Defying Gravity (V15) was super inspiring and really challenged me as a filmmaker. I spent a total of 15 days at that boulder filming with those guys – we dealt with epic windstorms, falling trees, freezing cold temps and ominous fog – but in the end, I got to document southern Colorado’s first V15 being established, which was a great moment for all of us.

Ibex: What do you hope people will takeaway from watching the film?

MK: More than anything I want people to enjoy this film for what it is – a bouldering movie. If they enjoy the footage and feel psyched to get out and go rock climbing then I’ve done my job. If they feel motivated to start searching out there own first ascents, then that’s even better.

Photo Credit Courtesy of Wes Walker