Monday, March 18, 2013

On the Edge: The mystery of the lost Welsh climbing series.

 On the Edge video still of  narrator Jim Perrin

Whatever happened to  On the Edge ? No...not the rock jock climbing publication which was the stable mate of the Geoff Birtles edited climbing magazine,High- both mags since having morphed into Climb- but the early 1990's climbing documentary shown on HTV-the Welsh commercial channel. Never heard of it? Probably because you either live outside of Wales,are too young, have never owned a TV or it just passed you by. A bit of background. On the Edge was made by a Welsh film company called Hiraethog and was a four part history of Welsh climbing and presented by Jim Perrin who narrates and conducts interviews throughout the two hour series.

Taking us from the early explorations of botanists and guides on the Welsh cliffs, through to Johnny Dawes doing his thing on The Quarryman, On the Edge mixes real life climbing footage and historic dramatic reconstructions interspersed with interviews with climbers like Joe Brown and Jack Longland.
I was recently rooting around in my loft and I came across an old box of VHS tapes which included the aforementioned documentary. Digging out an old Video player, I set it up, pressed play and waited. Nothing but grey fuzz but at least I could get the sound up. The tape itself didn't look too good. The centre core of the tape looked mildewed! Nothing for it but to put it on a cloth on top of a radiator for 10 minutes and see if moisture is the problem. Re-insert,press play and hey presto...we have sound and vision.

I've watched it through and despite the quality not exactly being High Definition, it's good enough to copy onto computer or DVD. It's a strange one. An entertaining two hour climbing film disappearing from circulation. I'm sure that even today,a reissue would have commercial potential or at least it could go out on Vimeo or You Tube. Given the enormous popularity of Whillans Last Climb- First linked here but picked up by UKC- I'm sure there would be a lot of interest from climbers. Especially those who are into climbing history. 

I have a feeling that the film company disappeared so I've no idea who has the original master copy? If anything comes up regarding the reappearance of the film in any media I'll be first to publicize it. In the mean time, if you can shed light on the mystery of 'On the Edge' feel free to post a comment.

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