Rock climbing tour rolls along campus

The annual Reel Rock 9 film tour presented by Sonoma State University’s Associated Student Productions, Campus Rec Adventure Programs and Campus Life, made a visit to the campus on Thursday night in the Student Center Ballroom. The tour is a worldwide expedition that makes its way around various countries to expose audiences to the finest climbing and adventure films. 

This edition of the tour was titled “Valley Uprising: Yosemite’s Rock Climbing Revolution,” showcasing the evolution of rock climbers beginning in the 1950s. The showing of the film encompassed a wide range of people including students, members of the Rock Ice Mountain Club and Vertex Climbing Center in Santa Rosa. 

Upon entering the ballroom, representatives of the event greeted guests with raffle tickets for the prizes presented by the Reel Rock Tour, including merchandise from Goal Zero, a portable solar power company and other giveaways such as bike tune-ups, massages, water bottles and hiking trips.

Kevin Hill and Kevin Soleil, the hosts of the show, introduced the event about Reel Rock Tour and its sponsors, including well-known companies such as North Face and Clif Bar. They introduced their local sponsors like REI in Santa Rosa, Vertex Climbing and Sonoma State University’s ASP.

“We’re coming all together as one huge awesome community,” said Soleil.

“Why do people climb walls?” was how the documentary opened. The film talked about the origins of rock climbing and how it became an adventure intensive sport in the 1950s, beginning in the Golden Age from 1955 to 1970. The film talked about the rivalry between Royal Robbins and Warren Harding, who were both rock-climbing leaders in the Yosemite during 1950s and 1960s.

Royal Robbins was the first climber to fathom the idea of climbing up Half Dome and actually followed through with it. To top off Robbin’s historical achievement, Warren decided to climb El Capitan, which is 3,000-feet taller than the Half Dome. From there, both Robbins and Harding competed for years in perfecting each other’s rock climbing expeditions that created the rock climbing trend carried on in Yosemite for decades. 

Following the trend, a lineage of rock climbers continued the legacy created in Yosemite long after Robbins and Harding’s rivalry ended. The Stone Masters (1973-1980) practiced “free climbing,” which is rock climbing without any safety equipment. During that time a climber classified as a Stone Master if they practiced free climbing and smoked a lot of marijuana.

The film also discussed how rock climbing became a countrywide phenomenon through solo and sport climbing. Solo climber John Bachar attracted a lot of mainstream media attention that led to Yosemite becoming a famous tourist attraction in California.

These different classifications of climbers are known as the Stone Monkeys (1980 – present) and still are active in Yosemite and other parts of the world today.

After the showing of the film, the rest of the raffle prizes were given out again to encourage students and other residents of Sonoma County to get involved in community outdoor activities.

“I really enjoyed seeing how the art of rock climbing came to be. I wasn’t aware that there was such a rich history behind it,” said junior Nick Karkas. “Watching the film made me want to go explore places around Sonoma and make my own adventures.”

To follow up the film, there was a late night climbing event at the SSU Rec Center rock climbing wall for students and residents of Sonoma County who attended the film tour to have the opportunity to climb and practice the techniques of climbing that they witnessed in the Reel Rock Film Tour.

The annual Reel Rock Tour made its mark on campus by exposing different ways for students to become more involved and in-touch with all the outdoor activities Sonoma County has to offer. Reel Rock tours all over the world, so if students didn’t get a chance to experience the outdoors through these films this year, make sure to look out for other locations on their website at