CC Alums’ Courageous Actions Made into "Resistance Climbing" Film

“We started studying Arabic at CC and that’s where it began,” says Colorado College alum Tim Bruns ’14. “If we hadn’t taken an Arabic class sophomore year, this dream wouldn’t have happened.”

A dream, combining Bruns’ passion for rock climbing with his desire to make an impact in the Middle East, which has become a livelihood — and mission — for this CC graduate. Learning Arabic opened the eyes of both he and his friend and fellow CC alum Will Harris ’14 to studying abroad in Jordan.

While there, it was a trip exploring the West Bank that stopped Bruns and Harris in their tracks. “I was totally shocked by what I saw there. The military occupation the Palestinians have been subjected to for over 50 years had disgusted me,” Bruns says.

The people, he discovered, had nothing to take their minds off the gunfire and explosions that happen frequently in the region. “They are isolated there,” he adds. “They live in a society controlled by the Israeli military occupation — where they can go, where they can study, even where they can pursue outdoor recreation. They’ve been so stigmatized in the West, yet there are millions of human beings living there who want the same things in life that we do.  I was so curious about the situation and wanted to know more. I wanted to be involved in a solution.”

Bruns realized there was climbing potential in the West Bank but there were no climbers. He and Harris wanted to start a grass roots operation in Ramallah, a city in the West Bank that serves as the de facto administrative capital of the State of Palestine. But they wondered how they would do it.

That’s when an entrepreneurship class with Colorado College Professor of Business Jim Parco gave Bruns and Harris the impetus and the green light to make it happen. Bruns applied for and received a Keller Adventure Grant to travel to Ramallah in 2014 during his senior year to do market research to see if there was interest. There was.

“One month after graduating from CC, we moved to Ramallah with two suitcases filled with used climbing gear, looking for cliffs that were safely accessible to Palestinians. Then we promoted it on Facebook and encouraged anyone to come.”

That was no easy feat. Around 70 percent of Palestinian land is fully controlled by Israel, with numerous heavily guarded checkpoints at Israeli colonies. But Bruns found some cliffs in a small village five minutes north of Ramallah and got to work bolting all the easy rock climbs first then establishing climbing routes so that he would be ready to start teaching people how to climb. Bruns and Harris also opened Wadi Climbing, the first indoor rock-climbing gym in Palestine.

“As we introduced more Palestinians to climbing, we found their stories incredibly moving and wanted to share these stories with the world,” says Bruns.

Bruns connected with three other CC grads, Nicholas Rosen ‘97, Josh Lowell ‘94, and Peter Mortimer ‘97, who had started a film company called Sender Films. Sender is the production company behind Reel Rock Film Tour, which creates films about rock climbing. Bruns used to watch the Reel Rock Film Tour as a student when it hosted showings at CC and knew this would be an opportunity.

“If my Palestinian friends could make it into Reel Rock, I thought this story would be interesting to the climbing world. It tells a story about people who use climbing in adverse circumstances as an escape and to build community,” he says.

Bruns pitched his story and the Reel Rock production team spent the month of May 2022 filming and the last eight months producing and editing what is now the film Resistance Climbing. It premiered March 4 and is one of three films in this year’s Reel Rock Film Tour, being shown at Colorado College's Armstrong Hall on March 16. Bruns is featured in the film, along with the Palestinian climbers he now considers his good friends. He will be introducing Resistance Climbing at the Kathryn Mohrman Theater. Bruns’ Colorado Springs climbing center, CityROCK, is co-hosting the event with CC.

“The ultimate goal of the film is to change the narrative about Palestinians and to humanize them to the world,” Bruns says. “If we succeed, I hope there will be more resources available to the Palestinian climbers, more international climbers going to visit Palestine and a better understanding of the region globally.”

To see a heart-pounding snippet of the film, check out the trailer for Resistance Climbing.

The film is free to CC students and open to the public for a fee.

To see if the tour is coming to a location near you, check out the global tour dates.

And here’s how to find more information about how you can help continued climbing development in Palestine.



Report an issue - Last updated: 03/16/2023