Narrated by Robert Redford, this classic program documents the first free ascent of the 2,200-foot high vertical northwest face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, California, which was accomplished by two experienced rock climbers, Jim Erickson and Art Higbee, in 1976.
It could be argued that this vertical Half Dome of granite is the most recognized site in Yosemite National Park. How anyone could consider free climbing something nearly twice as high as the Empire State Building seems unimaginable. Free climbing, unlike aid climbing, means climbers may use only their hands, feet and other parts of the body to ascend; ropes and any other equipment may be used only for protection against possibility of injury.
Beyond the incredible climbing and photography, what makes this program so compelling is the human drama. Erickson, we learn, had failed in nine previous attempts; then, as we watch both climbers reach 1,000 feet, an unwelcome storm makes them have to face defeat again. Finally, six weeks later, they set out once more.