‘Great Wall of China’: Dirtbag Climbers Crush Giant Traverse in Hilarious Buddy Film

This article originally appeared in GearJunkie.

Have you watched Free Solo and Dawn Wall? Did you enjoy them but wish there were more jokes about drinking beer and falling to an untimely death?

If so, then The Long Wall — a brisk 20-minute documentary about arguably the longest technical rock climb in the world — has plenty of humor to complement the epic task undertaken by two dirtbag BFFs. Ben Wilbur and Drew Herder bring old-school charm to this buddy comedy about the first continuous ascent of Great Wall of China, a 2,740m traverse at New York’s iconic Shawangunks (or just Gunks, to the locals).

The route had only been climbed twice before — but in both cases, the previous climbers returned to the ground each night. Wilbur and Herder, however, manage to pull off a continuous send, climbing 67 pitches in just under 37 hours. For perspective, the route’s nearly 2,800m feet of sideways climbing is equal to about three ascents of Yosemite’s El Capitan.

So how do these beer-chugging climbers manage it? Mostly, they opt for risky runouts of rope and constant danger of becoming a “New York pancake.”

“Usually, it’s nice to be the follower for some of the spicy pitches,” Herder says in the film. “But on a traverse like this, both ends are sharp.”

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.