• Mayan Smith-Gobat: What I've Learned
  • Josh Lowell: What I've Learned
  • Steve Hong: What I've Learned
  • Steve House: What I've Learned
  • Daniel Woods: What I've Learned
  • Steph Davis: What I've Learned
  • Nick Duttle: What I've Learned
  • Thomas Huber: What I've Learned
  • Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka
  • Alex Megos: The Hatchling
  • Ryan Vachon: Top Ice Climber and Climate Scientist
  • John Long: What I've Learned
  • Topropers Unite!
  • Steep Learning Curve: Alex Honnold On His Early Free-Soloing Days
  • Andy Kirkpatrick - Words Like Morphine
  • Margo Hayes and the Power of the Mind
  • Snapshot: Michaela Kiersch - The Chicago Hustle
  • Out of Nowhere - Nathaniel Coleman Jumps Onto the Podium
  • Jeff Lowe: What I've Learned
  • The Cheater - Learning to Climb for Myself, the Hard Way
  • John Bachar: What I've Learned
  • Art of the First Ascent: The Bold Climbs of Marcus Garcia
  • The Professional: Hilaree O'Neill
  • The Inventor: Alan Douglas
  • The Advocate: Nicholas Rothenbush
  • The Guide: Kris Erickson
  • The Craftsman: Jimmy Chin
  • Curious Case: Brette Harrington Breaks New Ground
  • Stefano Ghisolfi - One of The World's Best Makes Time For Fun
  • Dean Potter: What I've Learned
  • The Great Unknown - Graham Hunt
  • The Wizard - Dean Potter
  • Kai Lightner Reflects on Competitions, Bouldering and the Future
  • The Locomotive: Roy McMurtrey – 87 and Still Climbing
  • No Expectations: Joe Kinder Sends 6 5.14c's in Spain
  • Spotlight: Megan Mascarenas - The Logician
  • Alpine Warriors - History of Alpinists in Yugoslavia
  • Q&A: The Willpower of Mar Álvarez
  • Q&A: Ethan Pringle on Thor's Hammer (5.15a)
  • A Youth Wasted Climbing
  • Bouldering Bub - Isaac Caldiero
  • Spotlight: Alexander Ruchkin - Russian Locomotive
  • Alex Johnson - The Pro Life and Growing Up as a Climber
  • Rock Climbing Saved My Life: A Veteran’s Struggle with PTSD
  • The Beatnik of the Alps: A tale of FA's, Rescues, Love, and Suicide
  • Kev Shields – High Solace: Demons, Depression and Solo Climbing
  • Dean Potter On Laws, Modern America and Soloing Delicate Arch
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  • What I've Learned: Sonnie Trotter
  • What I've Learned: Mark Udall
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  • Chris Sharma: What I've Learned
  • The Seeker: Said Belhaj
  • Tommy Caldwell: What I've Learned
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  • Sonnie Trotter's Favorite 5.10: Exasperator (5.10c)
  • Unbroken: The Alex Johnson Profile
  • Listening for the Echo: The Klem Loskot Profile
  • Climbers We Lost in 2013
  • Kilian Jornet Breaks Speed Record on Mont Blanc
  • Layton Kor Dies
  • Climbers We Lost in 2012
  • Life on Hold: The Ian Powell Story
  • Rope Jumping with Dan Osman
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  • Mike Foley: Never Enough
  • Naomi Guy: What I've Learned
  • Hayden Kennedy: Superballistic
  • Dave Macleod: What I've Learned
  • Q&A: V15 Maestro Nacho Sanchez Unleashed
  • Francesca Metcalf: Meant to Compete
  • Maurice Herzog Dies
  • Mason Earle: Crack Ropegun
  • Kurt Albert: Free Wheel
  • Mayan Smith-Gobat: Climber for all Seasons
  • A Close Encounter With Dean Potter
  • Nik Berry: Obsessive Crusher
  • TNB: Tony Scott, Climber, Movie Maker, Lived and Died Large
  • Charlie Fowler - American Alpinist
  • Jimmie Dunn
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  • Who's Next?
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  • Todd Skinner: The Renegade
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  • Kurt Albert: The Climber Who Invented Redpointing
  • Josh Wharton: The Alpinist
  • John Rosholt: Climber and Gambler Disappears in Las Vegas
  • John Bachar's Last Interview
  • John Bachar Remembers Michael Reardon
  • John Bachar Remembered by Duane Raleigh
  • John Bachar by Henry Barber
  • John Bachar by Doug Robinson
  • John Bachar and the Bachar-Yerian First Ascent
  • Colin Kirkus: Climbing's Greatest Unknown
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  • The Prophet
  • The Guy Whose Nuts Revolutionized Climbing: R.P.
  • Randy Leavitt
  • Galen Rowell: The Vertical World
  • Brian Kim Spotlight
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  • Climber Hugh Herr Honored by Esquire Magazine
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  • Chuck Fryberger, Climber and Filmmaker
  • Chris Schulte Profile
  • Beth Rodden: What I've Learned
  • Joe Kinder
  • Hazel Findlay
  • To the BASE Layer
  • Pete Ward
  • Mad Max
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  • Bradford Washburn
  • THIS COULD BE YOU
  • Revenge of the Nerd
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  • Tim Clifford: Escaping the Quantum Hole
  • Renan Ozturk
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  • Traveling Light
  • Colette McInerney
  • The Banner Years
  • Pakistan: The Big and Free
  • MAD DASH
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  • KEEPING THE FAITH
  • Jules Cho
  • Extreme Eleven and Beyond
  • Bob Bates, 96, Takes His Final Journey
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  • Red River Sugar Mama
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  • An Advanced Beginner
  • The Last Samurai:
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  • Italian Legend: Lino Lacedelli | 83
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  • G-Money
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  • Charles Houston, 96
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  • The Genius - Jeff Lowe
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  • Video Spotlight
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
     



    Josh Lowell: What I've Learned

    15-Aug-2017
    By Josh Lowell

    This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 205 (October 2012).

    Finding a niche is a valuable gift. I stumbled into making climbing films 15 years ago. At the time the niche seemed small and random and it was hard to imagine making a career of it. But the passionate little tribe of climbers noticed my work. As the tribe has grown, my work has improved, and doors have opened.

    Collaboration is key. My first film projects were epic solo missions, finished only when I collapsed from exhaustion. But that’s a dead-end road. Working with my brother, Brett, and other creators like Mike Call and Corey Rich helped keep the energy high. Pete Mortimer of Sender Films and I could’ve become fierce competitors, but instead we pooled our resources and launched the Reel Rock Film Tour in 2006.

    Josh Lowell. Photo: Keith Ladzinski.Film production, and really all media, has changed drastically. As technology has gotten better and cheaper, now just about anyone can make a semi-decent video and distribute it on the internet.

    When we put out Dosage Volume 1, in 2001, I ordered the same number of VHS tapes as I had with our previous release, Rampage. But that year everyone switched to DVD, and I ended up with thousands of worthless VHS tapes. Since then I’ve tried to stay more forward-looking. If you can’t keep up with the rapidly shifting worlds of technology and media, you will not survive.

    Family gives it all meaning. When I was younger, I would sometimes get into a swirling, destructive head space, wondering what was the point of all this stress. Shouldn’t I be doing something huge and important, or maybe partying and having fun? Now I have an amazing, successful and supportive wife, and two young kids, and it all makes sense. My ego is kept in check by their love. I know why I’m working hard now, and I’m proud of it.

    Climbing is essential. It’s not easy to get out often anymore, but I MUST keep climbing. I don’t need as much of it these days; just one session a week and I’m good. When I get that shot of pure physical joy and mental exhilaration I’m a happier person, a better dad, and a more inspired, productive filmmaker. If I’ve recently gotten pumped and felt scared, I’ll do a better job of conveying those core climbing sensations on film.

    I can still improve. It’s inspiring seeing the old dudes cranking lately. Wills Young throws laps on The Mandala! I’m turning 40 this year; it would be badass to do my first V12.

    There’s no “right” way. Having worked with the best climbers, followed their routines during shoots, pored over footage of their greatest accomplishments and biggest failures, I find it amazing how varied their approaches are. The tweaky obsessiveness of Dave Graham, the laid-back spontaneity of Chris Sharma, the methodical dedication of Tommy Caldwell—all get the job done.

    Vision has more impact than performance. The most memorable things we’ve filmed are climbs that bring something new
    to the table, rather than purely the hardest ones. Sharma’s deep-water solo Es Pontas, for instance, was something nobody had imagined before and it blew minds. This applies to the actual filmmaking as well: Nobody is too concerned about the technical details of our work. People want to see a new vision rather than perfect execution.

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