Best Climbing Documentaries You Need To Watch

Share This Post

Table of Contents

Need inspiration for your next big adventure? Are you looking for some climbing inspiration? Or are you just taking an off day from training and need something to relax?

If the answer is yes to any of the questions above, this article is definitely for you!

There’s no shortage of fantastic rock climbing documentaries out there, but finding them can be a problem.

With the help of streaming services, climbing documentaries have become slightly easier to find, but you can’t necessarily find them all unless you get the DVD (I know… old school, right?).

With all that said, I’m going to introduce you to 10 of my favorite rock climbing documentaries you need to watch:

#1 The Dawn Wall


“The Dawn Wall” climbing documentary is a gripping film that chronicles the incredible journey of two elite rock climbers, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, as they attempt to conquer the seemingly impossible Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

The documentary takes viewers on a heart-pounding adventure with breathtaking cinematography and intimate interviews as they set off to establish the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall. 

The Dawn Wall is a vertical, 3,000-foot granite face first opened by Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell, considered one of the most challenging climbing routes in the world due to its smooth, featureless surface. 

Tommy Caldwell and Jorgeson’s ascent is a testament to human determination, as they spend weeks living on the wall, battling extreme weather conditions and physically demanding obstacles.

The film showcases the technical expertise required for such an endeavor and delves into the personal struggles and sacrifices these climbers faced in their pursuit of a seemingly unattainable goal. 

Their unwavering friendship and commitment to overcoming adversity captivates audiences as we watch Tommy waiting for Kevin to send the crux pitch. It’s a testament to the power of determination, perseverance, and pursuing one’s dreams against all odds.

Where to Watch

The Dawn Wall is available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and can be purchased or rented on Youtube.


#2 Stone Monkey


Released in 2007, this film centers around the life and achievements of British climber and pioneer Johnny Dawes, whose fearless and innovative approach to climbing earned him the nickname “Stone Monkey.”

The 24-minute climbing documentary paints a vivid portrait of Dawes as a daring and unconventional climber who pushed the boundaries of the sport during the 1980s and 1990s. 

It explores the unique relationship between climbers, the natural world and climbing culture, highlighting the passion and obsession that drives individuals to tackle seemingly impossible routes.

With some very raw footage and interviews with Dawes and fellow climbers, this climbing documentary captures the essence of the climbing community and the pursuit of personal and athletic excellence.

“Stone Monkey” is a must-watch for climbing enthusiasts and anyone interested in the indomitable spirit of those who dare to conquer the vertical world.

Where to Watch

As one of the older rock climbing documentaries Stone Money unfortunately isn’t available to stream. The DVD however can still be purchased by retailers such as Amazon. 


Trailer for Rock Climbing Epic – Stone Monkey

#3 Wide Boyz


Wide Boyz – Trailer

The “Wide Boyz” rock climbing documentary, directed by Paul Diffley and released in 2012, is an adrenaline-pumping exploration of the audacious and grueling world of wide crack climbing. 

The film focuses on two Brits, Tom Randall and climbing partner Pete Whittaker, as they embark on a quest to conquer some of the world’s most challenging and intimidating wide cracks, which is very uncommon in the UK.

The Wide Boyz are renowned for their extraordinary expertise in “off-width” rock climbing, a niche discipline within the climbing world that involves sending cracks too wide for traditional hand or foot holds. 

The documentary showcases their relentless training and innovative techniques as they tackle unforgiving and often brutal routes in locations like Utah’s desert towers. The two set up a training room in their cellar to replicate the roof crack as best they could.

Check it out:

Beyond the climbing itself, the documentary delves into Tom and Pete’s personal lives and friendships, offering viewers a glimpse into the human side of these exceptional athletes. 

Their humor, camaraderie, and shared ambition shine through, creating a narrative beyond their feats’ sheer physicality.

“Wide Boyz” is a gripping and visually stunning film that immerses the audience in the world of extreme crack climbing, a discipline seldom covered by climbing documentaries. It’s a must-watch for climbing enthusiasts and anyone fascinated by the boundaries of human achievement.

Where to Watch

The Dawn Wall is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Youtube.


First time climbing with Pete Whittaker! Strange experience

#4 Touching The Void


Touching the Void, directed by Kevin Macdonald and released in 2003, is a gripping and harrowing climbing documentary that recounts a real-life tale of survival, resilience, and the indomitable human spirit in the face of impossible odds.

The film is based on the autobiographical book of Joe Simpson, who, along with his climbing partner Simon Yates, attempted to ascend the treacherous Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. 

Their expedition took a catastrophic turn when Simpson fell and broke his leg during the descent. What followed was a nightmarish ordeal as Yates made the gut-wrenching decision to cut the rope, believing Simpson was already dead.

“Touching the Void” masterfully blends documentary-style interviews with dramatic reenactments, capturing the raw emotions and intense physical challenges that both climbers faced. 

The film is one of the best climbing documentaries exploring friendship and determination. Simon Yates battles the elements to get Simpson down after breaking his leg and then the sacrifice he must make by cutting the rope to save his own life.

Not only that, the film also delves into the sheer will to survive as Simpson miraculously battled back from near-certain death inside a crevasse.

“Touching the Void” is a testament to the extraordinary strength of the human spirit when faced with the most extreme and dire circumstances.

Where to Watch

The Dawn Wall is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Youtube.


Touching The Void – Official Trailer

#5 Meru


“Meru,” released in 2015, is a breathtaking and emotionally charged climbing documentary that takes viewers on an unforgettable journey to the heart of the Himalayas, where three elite climbers set out to conquer the unclimbed Shark’s Fin route on Mount Meru.

The film primarily follows the expedition led by renowned climbers Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk as they tackle one of the world’s most technically challenging and perilous climbs. 

What sets “Meru” apart as a climbing documentary is its intimate portrayal of the climbers’ relationships, struggles, and sacrifices. It explores their deep camaraderie and the sacrifices they make for their shared passion. 

It’s a visually stunning and emotionally charged film that resonates with climbers and non-climbers alike. It leaves audiences inspired by the human spirit’s capacity to overcome immense challenges and reach for the summit, both literally and metaphorically.

Where to Watch

The Dawn Wall is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Youtube.


Meru Official Trailer 1 (2015) – Documentary HD

#6 Dirtbag: The Legend Of Fred Beckey


The film pays tribute to one of the most legendary and enigmatic figures in the world of climbing, Fred Beckey, who spent most of his life as a self-proclaimed “dirtbag” climber, relentlessly pursuing first ascents in the remote and wild corners of North America.

Beckey’s relentless passion for climbing and exploration, often at the expense of personal relationships and financial security, is at the heart of this documentary. 

The film vividly depicts his unapologetically unconventional lifestyle, marked by a relentless obsession with peaks, rock faces, and routes that had never before been conquered. 

“Dirtbag” delves into the complex character of Beckey, exploring both his controversial reputation and his unshakable dedication to his craft. 

This documentary is not just a climbing story; it’s a compelling exploration of the price one pays for unyielding devotion to a dream and the enduring legacy left by those who defy convention to explore the world’s most rugged and untamed landscapes. 

Where to Watch

This is one of the best climbing documentaries with a historical perspective and is luckily available for free on Youtube.


DIRTBAG Trailer | The Legend of Fred Beckey

#7 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible


“14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible” is a compelling and inspiring climbing documentary directed by Torquil Jones and released in 2021. 

The film follows the incredible journey of previously unknown alpinist Nirmal Purja, a former Gurkha and British Special Forces soldier. He embarks on a historic quest to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in just seven months, a feat once deemed impossible.

Purja’s audacious endeavor was about personal achievement, shattering records, and pushing the boundaries of human potential. 

The climbing documentary chronicles his grueling and often perilous ascents, capturing breathtaking footage of some of the world’s most challenging and remote mountains, including K2, Mount Everest, and Annapurna.

What sets “14 Peaks” apart is its exploration of the human spirit’s triumph over adversity when external support for the project falters. It highlights the incredible teamwork and camaraderie among climbers from different nations and backgrounds, united by a shared passion for the mountains. 

Purja’s dedication and relentless pursuit of his goal serve as a testament to the power of determination, perseverance, and the belief that “nothing is impossible.”

Where to Watch

“14 Peaks” is one of the best climbing documentaries available to watch on Netflix.


14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible | Official Trailer | Netflix

#8 Free Solo


It would be utterly impossible to have a list of the best climbing documentaries without having “Free Solo” in there.

This groundbreaking climbing documentary, directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, hit the screens in 2018. It takes audiences on a heart-pounding journey into the extraordinary life of Alex Honnold, a free solo climber and his audacious first free solo ascent of El Capitan’s Freerider route in Yosemite National Park.

What sets “Free Solo” apart is its unflinching look at the sheer audacity and danger of free solo climbing. In this discipline, climbers ascend vertical rock faces without safety ropes or protective gear. 

The film showcases Honnold’s breathtaking physical abilities, his unwavering mental focus, and meticulous preparation as he confronts the most challenging climb of his life.

The documentary provides a rare glimpse into the world of elite climbers, exploring the emotional toll such a lifestyle can have on personal relationships, especially his girlfriend, Sanni McCandless. 

Ultimately, “Free Solo” is a pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat documentary that transcends the climbing genre, captivating audiences with its breathtaking visuals and profound exploration of the human spirit’s pursuit of the impossible. 

Where to Watch

For lucky subscribers of Disney+, “Free Solo” has to be the best rock climbing documentary on their platform. It can also be purchased on Amazon Prime.


Free Solo – Trailer | National Geographic

#9 Reel Rock 14


This annual series, directed by Josh Lowell and various collaborators, has become a cherished tradition among climbers and adventure enthusiasts, showcasing the most captivating and groundbreaking stories in the world of climbing.

“Reel Rock 14” delivers a dynamic mix of awe-inspiring climbing feats and engaging narratives.

One of its standout segments features Alex Honnold and climbing partner Tommy Caldwell, two iconic climbers, embarking on a thrilling expedition to climb challenging routes in the unexplored landscapes of Antarctica. 

Their journey is filled with unpredictable weather, technical challenges, and moments of camaraderie, capturing the essence of adventure.

The documentary also introduces audiences to rock climbing sensation Nina Williams, who battles her fears and attempts a precarious highball boulder problem. Her story resonates with the courage and determination required in the sport.

Furthermore, “Reel Rock 14” delves into the enigmatic world of urban climbing, showcasing the feats of climbers who ascend skyscrapers and iconic landmarks, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in an urban environment.

Where to Watch

The Dawn Wall is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Youtube.


Reel Rock 14 Official Trailer

#10 Valley Uprising


“Valley Uprising,” directed by Peter Mortimer, Josh Lowell, and Nick Rosen, is a captivating climbing documentary that takes viewers on an exhilarating journey through the history of rock climbing in Yosemite Valley, California.

The documentary delves into the climbing history of Yosemite, from the early pioneers like Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, and Yvon Chouinard to the rebellious “stonemasters” of the 1970s and later generations of climbers who pushed the limits of the sport. 

“Valley Uprising” highlights the clashes between these climbing generations, revealing the constant tension between tradition and innovation.

The film captures the essence of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, showing how climbing became not just a sport but a way of life.

With breathtaking footage and interviews with climbing legends, “Valley Uprising” offers a deep and entertaining dive into the climbing history of Yosemite. 

It celebrates the spirit of rebellion, the pursuit of personal freedom, and the enduring allure of one of the world’s most iconic climbing destinations. 

For climbers and non-climbers alike, this documentary is a thrilling exploration of the human spirit’s desire to break free from societal norms and find meaning in the mountains.

Where to Watch

This is arguably one of the best climbing documentaries covering the evolution of the sport and culture in Yosemite National Park.  You can watch it on Apple TV, Amazon Prime or purchase it on Youtube.


VALLEY UPRISING — Official Trailer

Best Climbing Documentaries on YouTube


adam ondra on silence famous rock climb

The documentary captures Ondra’s incredible dedication, rigorous training, and the physical and mental challenges as he attempts to become the first person in the world to climb Silence 9c, in Flatanger Norway.

La Dura Dura

chris sharma on la dura dura

Initially featured in Reel Rock 7 and then made into its own longer length production, this film chronicles the epic journey of Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra as they attempt to conquer one of the most challenging rock climbs in the world, La Dura Dura 9b+. 

Great Wide Open

This is less of a climbing documentary and more a celebration of the great outdoors. This 5 part mini-series directed by Jared Leto celebrates America’s great national parks and the adventurers who explore them.

Each episode concentrates on different personalities from the rock climbing world and considers what it means to them. 

A less heard of addition in our list that is absolutely unmissable.

Final Thoughts on The Best Rock Climbing Documentaries

Many more climbing documentaries could make the list or have an honorable mention. But these are the top 10 climbing documentaries out there right now.

Each one of them gives you an epic insight into the world of climbing and the sacrifices climbers make to reach the pinnacle of their sport.

Watching these documentaries will leave your palms sweaty as you watch pioneers of climbing/mountaineering pushing the limits of the sport.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More To Explore

Mockup - Book - tall

Get Smarter About Climbing

Join our 5 minute weekly newsletter and get our Introduction to Climbing ebook for FREE

Mockup - Book - horizontal

Get Smarter About Climbing

Join our 5 minute weekly newsletter and get our Introduction to Climbing ebook for FREE