New Film Captures Climber Matt Cornell Free Soloing a Legendary Montana Route
“The harder you dirtbag, combined with the harder your routes, the greater cred you have within your community,” Conrad Anker says in Come and Get It. The video profiles his friend Matt Cornell and his free solo of a hard-mixed rock and ice route in Hyalite Canyon in southwestern Montana.
Cornell is a climber so dedicated to the trade that he lives on the cheap by sleeping in a rented closet under a stairwell in Bozeman. Working less and spending less frees up his time to follow his passion – to climb the most demanding routes in the area.
Hyalite, packed with 225 ice and mixed routes, is a destination for climbers all over the world and is home to the annual Bozeman Ice Festival, now in its 23rd year. (The event took place just last week from December 11-15.) Hyalite is also Anker’s home crag, where as head of The North Face climbing team for 26 years, he fired many of the area’s hardest climbs.
Come and Get It is one of those lines. To prepare for his ropeless ascent, Cornell rehearsed the climb with Anker until he had the route dialed and knew every nook and cranny on it. Some days Cornell, car-less, would venture into the park alone via biking and hitchhiking to circuit other climbs in the area. All that time on the vertical allowed him to become so familiar with the ephemeral ice flows and steep rock that he felt comfortable doing the route rated M7 and established by Anker’s late climbing mentor Alex Lowe, without ropes or safety equipment.
“Part of the legacy climbers leave behind are the routes they opened up,” Anker says of Lowe and his legendary first ascents around the globe. Due to its committing and challenging terrain, the climb also “put three people in the hospital,” Anker says. “Matt understood the route.”
As Cornell climbs his crampons squeak on small points, and his ice tools grind into the fragile stone. Watch his full solo of Come and Get It in the breathtaking video above that frames the venture’s full risks and ultimate rewards.