The crisply literate author of the Downhill Racer screenplay goes back to the mountains for another story of adventure obsession, and this one is likewise being turned into a Robert Redford screenplay. The title refers both to the insular egoism of the mountain climber heroes here and to the nearly vertical faces they climb. The two rival climbers are equally obsessed, but otherwise dissimilar Americans who somewhat resemble real-life climbers Gary Hemmings and Royal Robbins: Jack Cabot is a wealthy, married, charismatic Easterner; Vernon Rand is a mystical mountain bum who drifts from girl to girl and climb to climb. Together they climb the treacherous Western face of the Dru, working hand in hand until Cabot makes a misstep and batters his head. Rand saves him, but they never climb together again--Cabot has success after success, never calling on the eager Rand. But then Rand makes a marvelous solo climb, capped by a rescue of two Italian climbers, and becomes even more world-famous than Cabot, who is soon paralyzed by a fall--and must be forced (by Rand) out of his wheelchair. And so it goes, with a grimly downbeat ending that nevertheless persists in glamorizing these essentially selfish, unlikable maniacs. But the climbs are enthralling, and the movie should be a rough-hewn Winner.