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MX: Leashless Mixed Ice Climbing

 MX: Leashless Mixed Ice Climbing

by Sean Hudson

December 16, 2002

If you have ever tried mixed climbing, you will certainly appreciate this video. If you are a 'mixed virgin,' MX will boggle your mind. Either way, climbers Rich Purnell, Sven Krebs, Ryan Nelson and Eric Malmgren will take you on a wild ride and give you a icy sampler of four wickedly hard Colorado mixed climbs - leashless!

You've seen the advertisements for those funky new ice tools in the magazines. You know the ones with exaggerated curves, bizarre grips and NO LEASHES! When I first handled one of these new ice tools, I said there was no way this is gonna work. Well, in MX, Rich and his friends proved me wrong on several insanely steep mixed climbs like, Somnambulist (M10), Troglodyte (M9+/10), Riding Manon (M9) and Pitch Black (M9+). Additionally, you will see the ever-classic Designator (WI5+) climbed like you probably have never seen before. The film also contains footage of Vail's testpiece Lucky (M11) as well as ice bouldering in Cascade Creek's overhanging drips and smears.

Rich tells Camp4 that MX is a finalist for this year's Banff Mountain Film Festival as “Best Climbing Film.” It is also a finalist in the Kendal Mountain Film Festival in the UK. It has also been submitted to Mountain Film in Telluride, Vancouver Film Festival and a Russian Film Festival.

After watching about thirty minutes of flawless perfection and brute strength, it was nice to see that Rich included some footage of these guys falling on prior attempts. It made me realize that these guys are indeed human and that the incredible climbing witnessed earlier in the film did not come easy to them. After all, these are some of the hardest mixed climbs in the world.

If I had one complaint, it would be that thirty-eight minutes is not enough. I was definitely left wanting to see more, but then again it was just enough to inspire me to put the remote control down, pry my ass off the couch and go climbing. OK, that's not really a complaint. I guess my one complaint would be the soundtrack. I am a big fan of House, Trance, et al, but I didn't feel the music blended well with the footage. It was a little too ... oh, I can't put my finger on it, but I feel that it just didn't work.

In summary, if you are a ice or mixed climber looking for a little inspiration this winter, we suggest checking out MX by M9 Films. You can find it at

Rich Purnell: Director/Producer/Cinematographer, Editor
Rich is an ice climber/ film maker originally from Indiana, he now lives in Denver, Colorado USA. Rich is one of the top innovative mixed ice climbers in the US. He strives to push the sport to its limits, creating many unrepeated routes in Vail, Colorado. His goal for his films is to portray the new revolution of mixed and pure ice climbing, leashless, hard first accents, and total dedication to the sport. This is his second ice climbing film. His first video “The Ice Project” was released last year and it also is a great tribute to the ice climbing community.

Tim Aex: Second Camera
Tim lives in Dillon, Colorado and is a professional photographer with a degree from the Art Institute of Colorado. When Tim is not busy with film making and photography he participates in the Summit County Search and Rescue and loves to rock and ice climb.

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