21 March 2017
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Push it – a film about two women climbers

February 21, 2013
Jen-Randall-anchor

Push it is the latest offering from from filmmaker and climber Jen Randall, it tells the tale of her big wall climb on the famous El Capitan in Yosemite, USA, with her new-found climbing partner Jackie Sequeira (google El Capitain if you are not familiar with it as it’s impressively scary).

The promotional blub describes this film as an inspirational story told with self-deprecating humour and a refreshing lack of egotism, and judging by the trailer this is absolutely spot on. We can’t wait to see the film and on top of that we now want to go climbing!

Jen Randall Q&A

Q What was the reaction of other climbers to you on the route?

Most people were quite concerned.  We were quite slow and two girls [climbing] on their own is quite unusual.  On the first day we got a bit of help with hauling from two different French parties who just couldn’t believe the sort of struggle we were having.  But we made friends with most people and a lot of people ended up getting to the top and back down while we were still climbing so they were sending us cheers from the meadow [in Yosemite] and left notes in our tent! So we made friends but I think people were kind of concerned about our welfare!

Jen-Randall-1

Q How did you (above left) and your climbing partner Jackie [Sequeira – above right] get on?

We had very short moments of tension and there was always tension because we were scared and stressed but generally after any mishap we’d manage to laugh just a few minutes later and make a joke of it and carry on.  So I think our friendship was probably solidified even more which was quite remarkable.

Q Yes because it’s not like you were life long mates?

No, we’d known each other for about a year when we went for it but we got on really quickly right away so we knew it was a good friendship and we were both characters who would get on with things when we needed to and joke about them when we could.  So maybe it was lucky, but it worked out really well.

Q In terms of equipment what did you take? 

We thought the climb would take about six days so we took 40 gallons of water and six days of food. On the first day we reckoned our haul bag weighed about 100kg which was really heavy, though it got lighter obviously.

Q  There is a superb moment in the film where you’re practising hauling and saying what a doddle it is and then later on we see you having a meltdown on El Capitan.

Even though we’d done a bit of hauling on our practice route, on the actual climb our bag was miles heavier and we had to put every bit of effort in to hauling it and then the bag would move just an inch.  We realized we had to do this for 50 metres at a time.  It made me cry a lot and it gave me nose bleeds and scars on my hips, but we got a bit quicker and it got lighter so by the time we were getting tired and closer to the top it got easier.

Q Was the route finding easy?

It wasn’t too bad. We had our guide and each anchor had bolts so you knew you were in the right place, also could quite often we could see where other people were going.  The tricky pitches were traverses where you had to do a pendulum, so you’d just swing round a corner and just hope you could find where you were going.  The last couple of days we felt the most intrepid because we didn’t see anyone at all and we knew there was a storm coming.  That was a bit scarier because it felt like we were more on our own.

Q You navigated by scent as well as sight I understand?

Yes, you knew you were coming up to your belay because people just go for a wee where ever, usually on a belay.  So when you could smell pee you knew you were on the right track and close to your anchor so it was like a mixed blessing smell!  It became quite a familiar smell.

Q Tell me, how you take a wee while climbing on a wall?

You just have to wee wherever – hopefully not on top of your partner!  But for other business you need a kit and something to shield you from anyone else that might be around, then you take it with you and throw it away when you get down.

Q A bit like doggy bagging?

Yes, it’s quite degrading!

ElCap_firstnight_JRandall

Q Did you struggle with the dilemma of being both subject and director? 

Being the subject in this case worked out quite well.  I’ve always made work that is quite personal so it’s kind of a natural progression from there.  And I love filming the other girls climbing.  That’s what inspired me so it was amazing to go and meet them and watch them climb.  And to be in it was special as well because I love climbing and I think having ordinary people in there can reach out and inspire you as well.

Q What’s your message to other female climbers, athletes and filmmakers?

This is going to sound really cheesy but honestly – just go for it.  I wanted to go and climb El Capitan for years and I never really thought I’d do it and I’m so happy that I went out and gave it a go.  The fact that we were successful is just like the cherry on top but just the fact that we really tried and did it under our own steam [was great].  So just go for it – whatever it is  you really want to do.

Sportsister,
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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