Ever since man gazed on a towering precipice and declared, "I will conquer that," mountain climbing has become an exhilarating pastime. To inspire your high-flying adventures, we peek behind the scenes of Hollywood’s most daring climbs from Tom Cruise’s stunning Mission: Impossible 2 climb to Matt Damon’s terrifying Bourne Identity drop.
Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
The camera soars alongside Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), capturing the heart-stopping beauty as Ethan Hunt scales a 2,000-foot cliff in Utah's Dead Horse Point. Cruise does many of his own stunts and used a harness and - briefly - expert Ron Kauk, who helped him into positions. “It’s amazing how keen he is to go do this stuff and how relaxed he is and trusting,” said Kauk, a legend in the climbing world. Director John Woo was panicking as there was no protection on the ground: “I was really mad that he wanted to do it, but I tried to stop him and I couldn't,” Woo said. “I was so scared I was sweating. I couldn't even watch the monitor when we shot it.”
Point Break (2015)
A young FBI agent infiltrates a team of extreme sports athletes suspected in a string of corporate heists in Point Break, a remake of the 1991 cult classic, with a rock climbing scene at Angel Falls, Venezuela that will leave you breathless. Keep an eye out for the iron cross and extreme double dyno - jumping with both hands from a starting set of holds to the next set. Chris Sharma was excited to be free climbing a mossy 3,200-foot waterfall, the tallest in the world, and brushed off the danger before he set out: “It’s going to be a really crazy scene and it’s going to be awesome.”
Wonder Woman (2017)
Gal Gadot was exhausted after two Wonder Woman movies and no wonder. She climbs, jumps, lassos, slides, and fights her way through scene after scene, including an epic wall climb in WW 2017. “I feel like I was spit out of a tornado,” she told Jimmy Kimmel afterward. The former Israeli soldier took her health and fitness regime to superhero levels to get ripped, working with trainer Magnus Lygdback every day and eating five times a day with a diet of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and veg. Still, she couldn’t avoid injuries. When the first Wonder Woman premiered, Gadot was in the hospital for a back operation and then powered through the next six weeks of media promotions doing her interviews standing up.
The Eiger Sanction (1975)
Clint Eastwood stars as C-2 Agent Hemlock, a retired government assassin called out of retirement to perform another hit. Intent on authenticity, Clint brought American mountaineer Mike Hoover to Yosemite for training before he shot his Swiss climbing scenes. Eastwood, 44 years old at the time, was almost defeated by the challenge he’d set for himself, at one point telling Hoover, “I don't think I can make it.' Hoover recalls replying: “Clint, you really don't have much choice, do you?” Eastwood was so pissed off, he gritted his teeth and made his way up the 1,200-foot (370 m) Lost Arrow Spire. The result is that The Eiger Sanction is one of the most realistic climbing movies in history.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises starring Christian Bale features one of the most memorable superhero scenes in the movies as Batman/Bruce Wayne, his back broken by Bane, climbs out of a perilous prison pit. It’s an incredible climb inspired by India’s Chand Baori - one of the largest step-wells in the world with a whopping 3,500 steps. How realistic is the climb? A bit hokey, according to rock climbers - particularly since Bruce Wayne seems to climb better once he gets rid of his rope - but as Batman fans know, the climb to freedom isn’t about physical strength. It’s about the strength of the human spirit.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Roger Moore reportedly had vertigo while filming the rock-climbing sequences in Greece’s mountainous Meteora. Stuntman Rick Sylvester performed the most dangerous work while Moore worked over a four-foot drop for close-ups of 007 climbing toward St. Cyril's Monastery. It might have been a small height but it was a sheer cliff face and Moore had to bolster his courage with Valium and a tall glass of beer before shooting the scene in For Your Eyes Only. Cheers to that!