I don't often watch the TV show “60 Minutes” any more, but this past Sunday, I caught the end of this piece on mountain climber Alex Honnold and couldn't pick my jaw up off the floor – but of course, I wondered how they shot it – and found out they used Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs and GoPros of course. It is awesome when shows put together their own behind the scenes (BTS) to give a bit more info on the production of a piece and tho they don't highlight the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, it is certainly cool that they showed the cameras in use high on the mountain. Especially telling I think is the discussion of the preparation for the shoot… often we think these things just happen, but it does take plenty of planning!
The 60 minutes piece
60 Minutes piece description
With no fear, no ropes, and no margin for error, Alex Honnold climbs mountains higher than the Empire State Building. A single mistake means certain death.
Watching Alex move spider-like up a sheer mountain face – with only his fingertips and toes keeping him from falling a thousand feet or more — is terrifying, even for some of our bravest reporters: 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and producer Jeff Newton.
Lara and Jeff have been reporting from inside the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for a decade, yet they were still awestruck and at times terrified as they watched the 26-year-old Honnold scale “Sentinel” in Yosemite National Park, a climb captured on tape for their “60 Minutes” segment this week: “Alone on the Wall.”
Watch Lara Logan's full 60 Minutes report on Alex Honnold here
Alex Honnold tells Lara Logan that he is at peace thousands of feet off the ground, but how do you find cameramen who feel the same way and thus can take on a “60 Minutes” assignment to film Alex's ascent?
Producer Newton, a climber himself, contacted Peter Mortimer of Sender Films, who had already shot Alex for his an award-winning film about the young climber. Jeff and Peter assembled a dream team of photographers and riggers, who spent two days assembling an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys so they could film the climb.
As you'll see in our Overtime piece “Filming Mountain Climber Alex Honnold,” the cameramen were suspended thousands of feet above the Yosemite Valley floor. They were instructed that during Alex's ascent, they were not to change their positions on the wall until Alex passed them. If they dislodged a rock or distracted him, he could have fall to his death.
In addition to the rock climbing cameramen, Jeff brought in almost a dozen other cameras – some in fixed position on the rock, some on the valley floor, and some on the top of the mountain. There was even one attached to Alex, but as you'll see in producer David Rubin's Overtime piece this week, Alex didn't have much patience with it.
Tell us about your crazy mountain climbing in the comments!
(cover photo credit: snap from the video)