Watch: Pete Whittaker & Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll Team Up In Patagonia

As I watched the highly enjoyable new film This Is Patagonia, I realized rock climbing has some notable similarities with the history of jazz.

At first blush, it might seem strange to compare rugged mountaineering with urban improvisation. Yet both climbing and jazz place a premium on individuality and personal expression.

Most of the time, they both require teamwork. But it’s teamwork of a democratic variety, with each person taking their turn while supported by the rest. Also like jazz, climbing teams don’t usually take on creative monikers — it’s simply the names of each participant, presented on equal terms.

When an individual climber or musician achieves iconic status, they experiment through new partnerships with other icons. In jazz, we get Bird and Diz, or Miles and Trane. In climbing, we’ve seen Honnold and Caldwell, or Findlay and Harrington.

And now — to finally arrive at the point — we have Pete Whittaker and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll.

Each of these climbers has proven themselves highly adept at freeing first ascents around the world, while maintaining a laidback charm through every terrifying pitch. Whittaker made his name climbing the world’s hardest off-width cracks, and O’Driscoll’s zany mountain adventures, punctuated by jam sessions, have become legendary.

Now they’ve made an album together — sorry, I mean documentary — of climbing hijinks amongst the perilous peaks of Patagonia.

Exploring new paths of self-expression with steady injections of fresh and funny communication?

Sounds like a great jazz show to me.

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.