Documentary film marvels in “The Sanctity of Space”

“When you discover a great climb that has never been done, it’s like falling in love,” said climber Renan Ozturk.

Ozturk is a man who takes this love to heart. More than 80 years after American mountaineer Bradford Washburn first photographed the 20,130-foot Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in Alaska, climbing buddies Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson have imagined an epic journey from the early 20th century photographic work.

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Inspired by Washburn’s footage, the duo formed the near-mad plan to forge a new route through many of the Last Frontier’s most forbidden peaks, including the technically complex 10,000-foot Moose’s Tooth massif. In a new way to explore the same landscape Washburn first mapped, the pair took video documentation of their journey, a climb never before achieved. Now streaming on Amazon and Apple TV, “The Sanctity of Space” follows the three mountaineers who embarked on this odyssey, intertwining Washburn’s pilgrimage of discovery nearly a century earlier.

“My life is completely guided by the mountains,” Ozturk says in the film.

Ozturk is not only a commercial and documentary filmmaker, but also an expedition climber for The North Face and a photojournalist for Sony and National Geographic. He has earned an international reputation for rock-climbing films like ‘Meru’, which won the 2015 People’s Choice Award at Sundance, and the critically acclaimed ‘Sherpa’, which screened at TIFF and Telluride.

Wilkinson echoes this undeniable attraction and this constant search for elevation.

“I was just looking for inspiration and kept coming back to Moose’s Tooth in Brad Washburn photos,” Wilkinson says.

A New Hampshire mountain guide in his spare time, Wilkinson received numerous mountaineering accolades, including the prestigious Piolet d’Or for making the first ascent of Saser Kangri II, which was then the second highest unclimbed mountain in the world. world. Wilkinson’s many first ascents spanned across Alaska, Nepal, India, Patagonia and Antarctica.

“(Washburn) is the greatest aerial photographer of all time,” fellow climber Zack Smith says in the film.

Smith grew up in Ashland, Oregon and started rock climbing with her dad at age 13 in Yosemite, using harness straps, hip belays and Vans skateboard shoes. He began his guiding career in Moab, Utah in 2000, specializing in desert tours and rock climbing clinics. Smith then found his first ascents in Argentine Patagonia, Chilean Patagonia, Kichatna Spiers and Ruth’s Gorge in Alaska, Bugaboos in Canada, Black Canyon in Colorado and Indian Creek in Utah.

Washburn was a pioneer mountaineer, photographer, and mapmaker, embarking on adventures in Alaska beginning in the late 1930s. He married Barbara Polk Washburn in 1940, honeymooning in the state and accomplishing the first ascent of the Mount Bertha. The pair established several first ascents in the northernmost state of the United States, blazing new trails on many of Alaska’s major peaks and making Polk Washburn the first woman to summit Denali.

“Brad’s photography taught me that you can use tiny human elements to convey the scale of these huge landscapes,” says Ozturk.

From drone shots, we find tiny humans, visible only through shiny winter jackets, atop massive peaks that stretch across the untouched Far North. It is this immense beauty that climbers are dedicated to uncovering, and through their eyes in “The Sanctity of Space” audiences experience the human quest to transcend the limitations of being tiny creatures in search of awe-inspiring majesty. of this vast planet.

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