Today marks the release of the long-anticipated film, “A Thousand Ways to Kiss the Ground,” directed by Henna Taylor. The film release is in conjunction with a fundraiser for the Climbing Grief Fund (CGF)–from now until July 20, people who donate $15 or more to the CGF will receive access to the film. There is also an online auction from July 7 through July 20, and discussion panels on July 9 and July 14.
“A Thousand Ways to Kiss the Ground” includes interviews with prominent climbers Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill, Jamie Logan, Kitty Calhoun, Jesse Huey, Sam Elias, Chris Kalous and many more. According to a press release, the film is a project that Henna and Summer Taylor began in 2019 “to capture the climbing community’s collective experience of grief and loss, and the nuanced wisdom inherent in each individual’s relationship with grief.”
Professional climber Madaleine Sorkin began creating the Climbing Grief Fund in collaboration with the American Alpine Club (AAC) in 2018. The CGF’s purpose is to help climbers who are impacted by grief and loss gain access to mental health professionals and resources.
When the first grant cycle opened this past February, there was a wave of applications within the first 24 hours. Fifteen $600 grants were quickly spoken for. “Although we only have 15 grants budgeted for 2020, we welcome people to apply anytime and are actively working to fundraise more,” Sorkin told Alpinist at the time.
That fundraising is now happening in earnest.
“During this time, 100% of proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards the Climbing Grief Grants, a component of the CGF. The grants provide financial support for individuals seeking professional counseling to help process climbing related grief, loss, and trauma,” reads a press release from the American Alpine Club.
The online auction features a collection of gear worth nearly $4,000. Bidding closes on July 20, but people can continue to make donations to the Grief Fund at any time, of course. More information about the auction and the other events can be found here.
The free online panel on July 9 is at 6 p.m. MDT. Guests include film director Henna Taylor and some of the individuals who were featured in “A Thousand Ways To Kiss The Ground”: Lynn Hill, Jamie Logan, Chris Kalous, Alli Roskelley, Sam Elias, Kitty Calhoun, Marcus Garcia and Katja Hurt. The CGF press release indicates that the panel will be “an opportunity to ask participants about the experience of sharing their experience with grief and loss in these filmed interviews.” A link to the Zoom panel can be found here.
A Community Impact Panel is on July 14 at 6 p.m. MDT, hosted by Sorkin and Sky Yardeni. Participants will include Savannah Cummings, a 2020 CGF recipient; Phil Powers, CEO of the American Alpine Club; Ally Stone, a 2020 CGF recipient; Kestrel Neathawk, a licensed professional counselor from the CGF Therapist Directory; and Nick Wilkes, owner of Devils Lake Climbing Guides and a CGF Grief Workshop participant. “The participants in this panel are leaders in our community who are aware of the need for more grief and trauma resources in our community and driving this conversation forward,” reads the press release. A link for that panel can be found here.
The webpage for the Climbing Grief Fund is here.
“What conversations are we turning away from?” Sorkin asks in a press release. “What might it look like for our climbing community to fully engage with its collective grief? How do we presence ourselves with survivors and offer resources for individuals to better integrate their grief? I think it’s a beautiful thing that climbing offers us–to be present with the complexity of choosing to risk and being in an honest relationship with our fragility and mortality.”