MHW Athlete and professional climber, Angie Payne, reviews Cheyne Lempe’s latest film Haywire — a story about an expedition to Baffin Island that takes an unexpected turn and forces Cheyne to explore some tough questions. Below are Angie’s thoughts on the film…
Haywire is quite possibly the most honest and raw account of a climbing expedition that I have ever seen. Too often I feel that climbing films gloss over the deeper, darker struggles that obviously surround intense endeavors. In Haywire, Cheyne delves deep into the dark side of a wild trip to Baffin Island and faces the looming question head-on, “Is it worth it?”.
In my opinion, the courage it took to expose his true feelings about the experience rivals the courage it took for him and his climbing partner Dave to tackle the objectives they did in Baffin. It is easy to assume that someone who can travel to an incredibly remote place to climb risky and committing objectives must be that much braver than most people. Some films about these types of expeditions seem to support that assumption, but I’ve always felt that there must be a whole different world inside the climbers’ heads that never gets explored. There must be some amount of fear and doubt and internal conflict. It was refreshing that Haywire did not run from that intangible world, but instead attempted to shine a bit of light into the darkness.
I also found relief knowing that other climbers struggle with intense feelings of doubt on trips, and I commend Cheyne for acknowledging and examining this reality. While I have never been on a trip that involves the same level of risk and danger that is present in Baffin, I have traveled to remote places. After returning, it was always easy to highlight all of the fantastic aspects of the place – the pristine beauty, the fun shared by the team, the breathtaking views, the moments of success. It was much harder to admit that for every great feeling or moment I reported, there existed an equal or greater amount of doubt, anxiety and questioning. I worried that in talking openly about those feelings, I would seem ungrateful for the experience. After all, it is a relatively rare privilege to get to travel to untouched places in this world. But those feelings exist, and they are human, and it is good to know that even the climbers far braver than myself experience similar sentiments at times.
I have never experienced an accident quite as serious as what Cheyne did, but I have certainly had some “haywire” moments that have caused me to ask myself the same question that Cheyne asks. Is this worth it? After a broken hold on a boulder problem in a remote area of Greenland landed me in the talus, I definitely questioned my motivations and reasons for being there. I walked away with bruises, but it could have been far worse. If it had turned out differently, I am certain that the insane beauty of the place and the incredible value of the new experience would have been overshadowed by a resounding WHY? This film explores that question and reminds us that there is more to climbing than summits and smiles.
Boulderers and big-wall climbers alike can without a doubt take something away from Haywire. It was beautifully crafted, and I think the climbing world needs more films like this. Thank you, Cheyne, for the unadulterated honesty and valuable contribution to the climbing community.
In case you missed it, you can watch Haywire here.