Highpointing: Humphreys Peak, Arizona

Humphreys Peak, the first big one. I knew when I started this series that each season finale would have to be somewhat noteworthy, and for season one it would also have to reinforce my seriousness in continuing Rooftops. One of the lower highpoints wouldn’t cut it, and frankly, nothing beats mountains when it comes to spectacle. They’re big imposing giants; plus they look good on film both up close and far away.

Enter Humphrey’s Peak. It is often offered up as the entry point for the larger state highpoints. Choosing this one for the season finale made sense for several reasons. It was easy to get to, the ascent could be done in a day, and no additional gear was required. Having never climbed something of this height it made sense to choose this one as my first.

Filming took two days, one dedicated to filming the ascent of Humphreys Peak, the other consisting of location shots and any other pickup shots missed the day before.  The original plan was to spend a day acclimatizing to the elevation and doing the location shots then making the ascent the following day. Once Brett and I arrived though we decided to switch the days and go for the summit on Saturday. It made for a bit more challenging climb but everything worked out in the end.

Now for the reveal, this video is filled with a lot of “movie magic.” Only one sequence was shot ascending,  the rest were all shot while descending or on the following day. The logic was simple. Neither Brett nor I had ever climbed anything of this height. It made sense to get to the summit first and then film on the way down.

There really are no technical shots in this video, the challenges being the climb itself and the amount of people hiking the trail that day. Humphreys Peak is a popular climb. You can see the traffic in quite a few shots, and even after some tweaking in the editing room, picking up some background chatter in the shot at the saddle. The big lesson learned was while I had trained for the mountain, I had not trained correctly. This is something that will be fixed on upcoming big peaks.

The music is entitled “Thunderbird” by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com. It adds a pleasing mystical aura to an incredible hike.

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