Force is the collected footage from 10 years of Mikey Schaefer’s climbs, summits and misadventures in Patagonia, Argentina woven together into a story of success, fear, joy and growth. Patagonia has just released the full film online.
“I’m a homebody. My friend Mikey Schaefer is not,” director Fitz Cahall writes in Patagonia’s Cleanest Line. “I made a conscious choice to develop a lifelong relationship with my local ranges and the urban environment right out my front door. A climber and photographer by trade, Mikey travels the world and he, much like I did, found a landscape that left its mark on him. It was 15,000 miles away, but, hey, when a place speaks to you, you listen.
Since his first trip as a 21-year-old to this fabled land of wind and granite (and more wind), Mikey has made Patagonia a part of his life. Every November or December, Mikey uproots his life and migrates to the South American summer and the hamlet of El Chalten where the staggering granite spires of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy loom in the backdrop. Over the years, he fulfilled an audacious goal of establishing first ascents on all seven skyline summits of the Fitz Roy Massif. Take a look at that Patagonia logo on your jacket. That skyline is the defining element of Patagonia’s corporate logo. It’s bigger in real life.
Four years ago, we were having dinner when Mikey starting showing me short video clips he took with his point-and-shoot during his time in El Chalten. Spindrift avalanches. Open bivvies. Terrifying winds. It was gritty, honest and a far cry from the polished, rehearsed, re-enacted, slow-motioned footage we are getting so used to seeing in adventure sports. It looked hellacious, chaotic and real enough that it made me think twice about whether I was the kind of climber who really had what it took to do an FA on a Patagonian spire. “Keep pulling out that camera,” I said. “We are going to need a lot more of that.”
Well, Mikey did. And with the ever shrinking size of video cameras, we had a hunch that others climbers might be capturing their own adventures in this unique range. The inhospitable conditions have a reputation for crushing would-be filmmakers who come in with large crews and big cameras. Climbers have a native advantage. So we came up with an idea to supplement Mikey’s footage by turning to the community and crowdsourcing as much as we could. Could we sift through hours of footage to create a portrait of a climber, a landscape and the intimate visceral relationship between them?
Mikey has his rope and granite towers. I’ve got a desk chair and a mountain of hard drives. We each did what we were put on this planet to do. The result is Force, a short film about Mikey, a community and a landscape.”
Check out Patagonia’s Vimeo Channel.