Reel Deal: Charting Big-Wall Movie Scenes

Hollywood climbing: Survivable or surreal?

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This month’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation pits buff superpatriots against acrobatic ninjas in high-angle Hollywood combat.
They spar with swords and fists across a granite face hundreds of feet high. How do their antics compare to other Tinseltown climbing scenes?

Photos by: Courtesy Hasbro, Inc.; Andrew Cooper /; Bruce Birmelin /


1. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Valuable survival takeaway: Always climb with a trusted buddy. Captain Kirk loses a handhold on
El Cap and is saved by Spock’s rocket boots.

2. Vertical Limit Our hero jumps a canyon-size crevasse and swings two ice axes into a cliffside to secure himself.

3. Cliffhanger Fake: bent climbing buckle. Real: the 400-foot somersaulting fall in the opening scene.

4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation Think Cirque du Soleil-choreographed kung fu—on steroids. Surviveable? Only for supersoldiers and Spiderman.

5. Touching the Void White-knuckle reenactments of this true story show that the will to live trumps bad luck.

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