I haven’t done any movie reviews on this site per se, and I can’t guarantee that I will keep it up, but since there wasn’t much on last night I was checking out Netflix and one of the movies that came ‘highly recommended’ to me by its little evil genius machine was 180 Degrees South.
For a quick synopsis the movie follows a journey taken in 1968 by Doug Thompkins (future founder of The North Face and ESPRIT) and Yvon Chouinard (future founder of Patagonia and Black Diamond) who drove in an old VW van from California down parts of the Pan-American Highway to Patagonia, hiking, climbing, camping and surfing along the way. The current day journey follows Jeff Johnson, an author and filmmaker as he makes a similar voyage, gaining inspiration from old footage he had found from Thompkins and Chouinard’s trip decades earlier. Instead of driving, he sails most of the way, stopping at Easter Island and then driving down to Patagonia, where he meets up a few mountain climber and surfer friends, as well as Thompkins and Chouinard themselves in order to attempt to climb Corcovado, a mountain in Patagonia only summitted once before, by Thompkins.
The greatest points of the movie are, I think, some of the realizations of Jeff during his journey, and the really sage wisdom of Thompkins and Chouinard, some of which we have touched upon in this blog.
A few takeaways from this movie:
º The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask – Jeff Johnson
º Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all….but we just went for it – Yvon Chouinard
º It’s really very difficult to simplify your life. It’s very easy to let it become complex – Doug Thompkins
º Conquers of the useless, that’s what we were, you learned that what’s important how you go there, not what you accomplished – Yvon Chouinard
What I really loved most about the movie was how Yvon and Doug shared their passion, and welcomed with open arms anyone into it. By any measure, both are extremely accomplished climbers, experts in their fields, yet happily gave advice and tips. Showing Jeff’s friend who had never climbed before patiently, step by step instructions how how to do things, reliving the joy all over again. That was my take away. For them there are no champions or losers, or things that are too hard, or places that need more experience to conquer, it’s all about just giving it a shot, there is no failure, there are just wrong moments and wrong times, come back another day, and the moment will be perfect.