To Bolt Or Not To Be: The Film | Nina Caprez

Words by Nina Caprez. Photos by Mikey Schaefer and others.

Our plan was to make a simple climbing video.

Sharing an outstanding adventure is somehow easy. You take a picture from a big wall, from an icy mountain, or from a simple outdoor shot while bivvying.

Everyone can relate to that, our eyes and brain can make the connection between the picture we see and to the emotion it brings up.

But how can we communicate about a more personal emotion on a more run-of-the-mill climbing experience? That’s the challenge I wanted to tackle by filming my way on the historical route “To Bolt or not To Be”, American’s first 14.a, located in Smith Rocks.

Mikey Schaefer photo.

So when I first touched the holds of the route, it moved something inside of me. That was in October 2016. Earlier that year, I had had to deal with a crazy infection, which almost killed me. For a while I was far away from what I normally do, climbing hard and pushing my limits. Instead, I was struggling with simple things like walking up stairs and that was very hard for my psyche.

But I wanted to get back to my old self again and so I put a lot of energy in recovering. I came back, step by step.

And six months after my illness I was standing on the bottom of this route, intimidated.

I gathered all my courage and at first barely made my way to the top of this 40m route. It looked like I had no chance, but once back in France I knew that I wanted to climb that route and I managed to focus my mind and heart on that climb over the next few months.

In April 2017, I returned to Oregon and I felt ready. It gave me a big satisfaction to see that my work had paid off. I was in my little bubble, determined and joyful at the same time.

Climbing a 14.a on small crimps is not a big adventure, certainly not by today’s standards. That’s obvious. But to me it meant a lot. With that climb and the preparation I had put in beforehand, I was able to close the “not so fun, weak/unhealthy body, struggling and questioning myself ” chapter of my life.

Mikey Schaefer photo.

With the film, I just want to share that experience. My intention was not to make a huge story out of it, but simply to show a healthy and happy climber on some small crimps.


A big thanks to Ian Yurdin for the long catches and the good time at the cliff. To Sean Heaverstock for the support and motivation. To Mikey Schaefer for the warm housing and the rad photographs. To Julien Nadiras for his excellent work on field and creative eye. To Arc’teryx for making that film happens. And last but not least, Mathieu Rivoire form Illustruscope for his excellent work by editing that hard peace.

Check out the film: