There has been no shortage of climbing documentaries that combine staggering vistas with sickeningly stressful shots of people cramming their bleeding fingertips into tiny cracks in sheer rock faces. And each film attempts to answer the same question – for the love of God, why?
The Alpinist, about free spirit and solo climber Marc-André Leclerc, is distinctive because its subject is an outlier even within the maverick climbing community. What drives him is not glory or sporting achievement. A goofy Canadian given to describing a blighted hellface of sheer rock as “super fun”, Leclerc was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Climbing, he says, is the only time when he “doesn’t feel my squirrel brain twitching”. It’s an intriguing insight into a particular kind of obsessive drive, and a portrait of a man who, as one of his contemporaries remarked, feels almost too comfortable on the side of a mountain.