“Black Ice” documentary follows journey of Black ice climbers

“Black Ice” documentary follows journey of Black ice climbers

Nothing at all stands in the way for a group of Black rock climbers from just one of Memphis, Tennessee’s poorest neighborhoods. Their 1st at any time attempt at scaling ice was filmed for the documentary “Black Ice.” In a activity where diversity is a challenge, the “Black Ice” story includes race and chance concerns although highlighting some emotional and individual journeys. Dana Jacobson has the information.

Online video Transcript


You know, it ain’t effortless remaining younger, Black folks in a community exactly where they you should not be expecting us to do anything at all.

Thank you, sir. Growth, growth, growth, boom. He just– he need to perform at a rock climbing gym or anything.

He is likely to go back again house, he’s likely to be valuable. He is likely to know. He is likely to know that he has possible like this. Normally, you in a dim position and you don’t see the light-weight.

DANA JACOBSON: Which is a clip from the new documentary “Black Ice.” The movie follows a rock climbing group that’s produced up of generally black climbers, noteworthy in a activity where by variety is a problem. They are 1 of Memphis Tennessee’s most deprived neighborhoods. Their tour ice climbing in Montana was for some, both a first attempt at scaling ice, and a to start with journey out of Memphis. The black ice tale is just not just about the bodily journey on the mountain, although, it also shares individual transformations while increasing inquiries about race and option.

Welcome to Memphis Rox. An oasis in a South Memphis community of Soulsville. Aiding its community achieve summits hardly ever imagined.

CHRIS DEAN: It is really just not like a Black rock climbing gymnasium, this is just a rock climbing gym where everybody’s invited.

DANA JACOBSON: Chris Dean has been a section from the beginning, doing the job with its founder who has family ties to Memphis, Hollywood producer Tom Shadyac. Acknowledged for films like “Ace Ventura,” “Pet Detective,” and “The Nutty Professor.”

CHRIS DEAN: We went all around, we was striving to obtain the ideal sport to give the opportunities to this communities. And immediately after acquiring out far more about rock climbing and, like, experiencing your fears and, you know, pushing on your own, it was all about grit. And that’s what we have, we have grit. It really is the grind town. It just felt ideal.

DANA JACOBSON: Memphis Rox employs a pay back what you can product. So when [INAUDIBLE] to start with came in a few a long time in the past, he earned his climbing several hours by volunteering.

I’m gonna be authentic, although. The health and fitness center modified my lifestyle.

DANA JACOBSON: 4 decades in the past, continue to in high school, [INAUDIBLE] was shot many situations. One particular of the bullets traveled up his neck and by way of his mouth, knocking his base teeth out. The fourth oldest in a family members of 10 young children, two of [INAUDIBLE] brothers are in jail right now.

The staff right here, they like loved ones for true to me. ‘Cause if it wasn’t for them, I might be in the streets suitable now until this working day. And which is what I’d be doing around there. I would be locked up or lifeless.

Just after our expedition, you’ll have all your package in there.

DANA JACOBSON: As a substitute, [INAUDIBLE] was portion of a group of climbers from Memphis Rox whose excursion to ice climb in Montana grew to become the documentary “Black Ice.” It is element of Reel Rock, an once-a-year climbing documentary movie pageant now in its 15th 12 months.

CONRAD ANKER: I’ve been climbing for 40 several years. It is what I do. It really is my passion. Hardly ever have I viewed everything as cool as Memphis Rock’s.

DANA JACOBSON: Legendary mountaineer Conrad Anker initial frequented Memphis Rox back in 2018. In February of 2020, Memphis Rox arrived to Anker. He’d guide the “Black Ice” expedition.

CONRAD ANKER: For me, to be in a climbing film and not climb, but to have it be a assertion about society that we can find out from was a single of the most significant matters I’ve finished in my climbing occupation.

It’s chilly. I detest it, but I am happy.

DANA JACOBSON: For 5 days they camped.

So this is what we climbing?

This is it.

DANA JACOBSON: And climb the frozen waterfalls of Montana’s Emphasize Canyon.

CONRAD ANKER: The notion with ice climbing was that it truly is just so unlike what one would practical experience in South Memphis. So it was a obstacle. And there is certainly also a commonality that the cold and that natural environment delivers the group with each other.

Let us get it.

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: Ice climbing is a whole nother issue. The initially working day was challenging on all people. There was a couple folks who, like, created it to the major. I was not 1 of them.

DANA JACOBSON: Amid people documenting the journey, Memphis Rock climber and online video journalist, Jonathan Malik Martin.

Although you had been filming this, did you recognize what you experienced on your fingers?

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: Not definitely. All I’m striving to do is the very same factor I have been undertaking for the earlier eight several years, is like, notify the stories of my mates about me.

DANA JACOBSON: And it truly is these tales which Martin captured and was section of that make “Black Ice” about more than just the climb.

CONRAD ANKER: Do I refer to as Black or African-American or not at all? Or is there–

I like Black.

Yeah, you can say Black.

CONRAD ANKER: Okay. Yeah, they are my black mates.

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: It was significant for Conrad to check with that question. It truly is him stating that he does not know.


CONRAD ANKER: And he would like to find out how to interact with us in a nutritious manner.

DANA JACOBSON: “Black Ice” also raises questions about race and chance.

Was there intent driving that in filming this?

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: No. So like, even with the movie staying referred to as “Black Ice” it’s just me and my comrade Chris Dean cracking jokes back again and forth.

I seriously hope there ain’t no black ice on this highway.

CHRIS DEAN: Why everything that’s lousy received the title black? Like, they be like, black ice. Gentleman, how you know It truly is black?

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: It look distinct to me.

CHRIS DEAN: Glance very clear to me, Exactly.

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: You know, the absurdity of how, you know, just in like how we use language. Language is coded. We didn’t consider about it owning that, like– you know, of becoming that so much of a social commentary at the time.

DANA JACOBSON: Like in this moment, exactly where the group is placing up camp.

CONRAD ANKER: We are out at the woodshed splitting wood. And [INAUDIBLE] rolling all around in the snow, participating in.


JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: He is coming from Memphis in which you have to have an outer shell of hardness to secure your self. To a kid who’s building snow angels and rolling all around, flopping about, and you do not have a get worried in a entire world because there is certainly nothing at all out in this article which is going to damage you.

CHRIS DEAN: This community don’t let you demonstrate no worry. You have to use, you know, your angry Black guy deal with. You received to be like glimpse, hey, you should not test me. And which is each individual working day. Not now, each working day.

And so, which is why you observed [INAUDIBLE] explode with pleasure and like vitality and like playfulness, simply because he obtained a probability to depart Memphis. He got to be like 12-calendar year-aged [INAUDIBLE]. He acquired to be 15-yr-aged [INAUDIBLE]. Get to be, you know, playful. And that was attractive to see.

(SINGING) Happy birthday expensive, [INAUDIBLE].

DANA JACOBSON: And for [INAUDIBLE], who turned 20 on that mountain–

Content birthday–

DANA JACOBSON: It was not just the second but the entire trip that stayed with him.

I felt so happy currently. My soul was free for when from all the drama, from all the chaos. Heading on that trip, I last but not least realized the person who I am now. I am a leader, not a follower.



Woo! Very good task, [INAUDIBLE]!

DANA JACOBSON: What do you hope an individual who watches “Black Ice” receives out of it?

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: I hope that when any person watches “Black Ice” they get an huge volume of joy, creative imagination. You know, a emotion of perseverance.

Coronary heart of a lion. [GRUNTS] [INAUDIBLE] like a butterfly, sting like a bee. [GRUNTING]

JONATHAN MALIK MARTIN: You know lifestyle is, is preventing via, you know, the obstacles that lie ahead of us. And from time to time horrific items can occur to us. But as extended as we’re still respiratory, I believe that that we got a probability to get it right.

CONRAD ANKER: Complete powerful, gentleman. You’re almost there!



CONRAD ANKER: Yeah, guy!


Arrive on!


DANA JACOBSON: So I received to notify you men, Christine, just one of the people we read from in there, mentioned it truly is not about the summit, it’s about what you carry back again from the summit. Encouraging men and women to consider that and travel as nicely. This Memphis Rox gymnasium in which they started at, is an outstanding put in alone. And the documentary has even a lot more than what you just saw there. You can come across it on the Reel Rock website. It is really www.reelrocktour.com. It truly is 35 minutes. I am telling you, you have obtained to see this issue.

I am going to look at it this afternoon. I are unable to hold out. It is really superior stuff, Dana.

I cherished all the social commentary. It is the discussion that I don’t forget having with buddies.

DANA JACOBSON: It really is actual. It truly is real.

It actually is.

DANA JACOBSON: And which is what makes a variation. And it is really so trustworthy, especially White and Black.

Yeah. Thank you, Dana. Excellent story.

DANA JACOBSON: Thank you. Wonderful story.