Some rock faces loom so large they dominate the landscape. They’re simply massive — unconquered. Yet to some, these monoliths present an irresistible climbing challenge, an opportunity to attempt the unimaginable. Yosemite’s “Dawn Wall” and the “Shark’s Fin” on Mount Meru in the Himalayas are two such places.
Audiences, climbers and non-climbers will be thrilled to experience special screenings of Meru and The Dawn Wall, a pair of adrenaline-pumping documentaries that capture high-stakes ascents of these legendary natural wonders.
These 2D, giant-screen epics will fill the six-story screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater during 7 p.m. screenings on Jan. 24 and 25 (Meru) and Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 (The Dawn Wall).
Meru recounts a climbing team’s high-stakes attempt to summit the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru. Climbing a 21,000-foot mountain might seem challenging enough, but Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk faced additional obstacles in their quest to tackle this dangerous ascent. Hair-raising ice climbs, sheer rock faces and the extreme altitude made conquering the mountain an almost impossible feat.
Despite the abundance of deadly pitfalls, Anker, Chin and Ozturk journeyed to India to assail this seemingly insurmountable challenge. What was meant to be a seven-day trip to the summit — with just enough food to make it to the top — turned into a 20-day odyssey in sub-zero temperatures.
Fig. 2 Jimmy Chin in Meru (left) Tommy Caldwell climbing The Dawn Wall (right)
Beaten back by a massive blizzard, the team’s first attempt failed. Undaunted, they returned three years later, determined to attempt the gauntlet once more. Their Olympic efforts are documented in a gripping film that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
A week after hosting Meru, the theater will feature The Dawn Wall. For many climbers, Yosemite National Park holds a special significance as a place to push themselves harder and climb a little higher. That made the park an enticing venue for American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, who have continuously sought new challenges since they first began scaling rock faces in their early teens.
The towering granite surface for which The Dawn Wall is named receives the first rays of sunlight in the park each day. It’s an almost glass-like surface that towers almost 3,000 feet above the surrounding landscape.
“For Tommy Caldwell, The Dawn Wall was much more than just a climb, it was the culmination of a lifetime defined by overcoming obstacles,” reads a description on the film’s website.
Caldwell had been taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgystan, lost an index finger in an accident and also had personal challenges. Rather than being weighed down by these hardships, however, he instead focused his mind and body on a singular goal – conquering The Dawn Wall.
After six years of exploratory climbing, plotting and preparation, Caldwell and Jorgeson made a final attempt that drew worldwide attention. IMAX audiences will be awestruck by the majesty of Yosemite and the heart-pounding action as they watch this duo clinging to the mountain by their fingertips.
Tickets to see either Meru or The Dawn Wall are $13.95 per person ($11.95 per person for Tennessee Aquarium Members).
These special screenings are at 7 p.m. Jan. 24-25 (Meru), and 7 p.m. Jan. 31-Feb 1 (The Dawn Wall).
A cash bar with beer and wine will be available for these special screenings.
Both films are rated R for strong language. To learn more about these films, and purchase tickets online, visit tnaqua.org/imax/meru-the-dawn-wall.