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Exotic Hampi: Video and Interview

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Earlier this summer Alpinist TV showcased a series of adventure videos that carried our readers around the world, from Norway to China. This week’s Feature, another Sweetspot, takes you to the endless boulderfields of Hampi, India, with climber Liv Sansoz. Thanks to the crew for telling us a bit more about their adventure.

[Photo] Evrard Wendenbaum

Where is Hampi, and why did you travel there?

Hampi is in the state of Karnataka, in southern India. It houses some of the world’s finest boulders in a fantastic landscape of rice fields, palm trees and temples.

Who was on your trip?

The production crew was comprised of two filmmakers (Evrard Wendenbaum and Julien Nadiras), local Vaibhav Mehta (Hindi translator and guide, who ran logistics… and is one of India’s best climbers), and the ACG climbing team (Axel Ballay, Michael Fuselier and Liv Sansoz). [Evrard Wendenbaum’s photos not only appear in this feature, but also on the cover of Alpinist 19 and in “Little Man, Big Mountain”.–Ed.]

What equipment and filming techniques did you use?

We had two professional HDV camcorders, micros including HF, accessories such as wide angles, and macro lenses for close shots to accentuate holds and other details. We used tripods and a steady-cam for dynamic and motion shots. And we also brought ropes and a monopod (used as an extended arm) to follow Liv from different angles.

[Photo] Evrard Wendenbaum

The Sweetspot series aims to connect some of the best athletes with earth’s most incredible outdoor playgrounds. What made Hampi so sweet?

Hampi is an amazing place. The capital city of the ancient and powerful Vijayanagara Empire, which controlled India for two centuries during the Middle Ages, is now world renowned for its well-preserved and colorful temples.

And among the chaos of the city, built among these labyrinthine boulders, flows a quiet river through plains of palm trees and rice fields, making an especially sharp contrast–not just in topography, but also in color. The peaceful green of the valley is so different from the vibrant orange on the hillsides.

[Photo] Evrard Wendenbaum

What’s your best memory of the trip?

One morning we woke up very early to watch the sunrise at a special spot I noticed several days before. There, we realized we could climb an incredible, balanced, totally isolated boulder. Liv started climbing just as the sun began to shed light on the rock and the temples behind. The moment was magic. Time stopped.

Did the trip coalesce as you planned?

In Paris we experienced some problems with the Indian embassy, which lost Liv’s passport and forced us to shorten our journey by five days. So we had less time to film than we wanted.

Also, the temperature was a little hot for true climbing performance. But that’s to be expected in Hampi–though magical, the heat, sharpness of the rock and unavoidable stomach illnesses keep you humble. The heat forced us to shoot either very early or very late in the day, when the light changes very fast. Because of that we faced some difficulty keeping the same light or completing the filming sessions on time. However, those times of day offer the best quality of light.

What do you like most about your film?

It’s difficult to say what I like best, but most impressive to me is the scenery and the atmosphere it creates. Axel, Michael and Vaibhav were also very nice to film, but they aren’t in the final film, which focuses on Liv.

Do you have any epic tales from the shoot?

Nothing too wild, but it was fun to see the locals trying to figure out the point of climbing on these boulders; why they were trying the same movements so many times, most of the time falling. The cultural differences were fabulous to see.

[Photo] Evrard Wendenbaum