Where was Cliffhanger filmed?
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; Durango, Colorado
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The opening scene of 1993’s Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone, is iconic in 90s pop culture. These Cliffhanger action scenes involve two skilled rangers who are called in to save two mountain climbers, Hal and Sarah, in the Colorado Rockies. Gabe is attempting to save Sarah when her harness breaks and she falls to her death. Gabe, blaming himself for the accident, takes a leave from the job.
After nearly one year, Gabe returns to the ranger station, but only to retrieve the rest of his belongings. He intends to never return to the job, and he tries to persuade a fellow Ranger to join him. However, a distress call comes in, and Gabe is asked to join in the rescue.
The rescue was merely a ruse; the climbers are a group of international thieves who have stolen more than $100 million in uncirculated bills. They were aboard a plane when the theft took place, which was later shot down by an FBI agent. The suitcases of money fell, and the distress call was an effort to get Rangers to their location so that they would assist the thieves in finding their loot.
At gunpoint, Gabe and the other Rangers are forced to assist the criminals. Gabe and Hal work together to get away from the thieves, but only Gabe is able to get to an abandoned cabin where Jessie waits with more mountaineering gear. The plot thickens as Gabe and Jessie taunt the thieves by leaving one single bill with the note: Want to trade? at the cabin.
Gabe and Jessie beat Qualen, the leader of the criminals, to the last case. However, Qualen takes Jessie captive. Gabe will eventually best Qualen by convincing him to release Jessie; Gabe then throws the last case of money into the rotors of the helicopter, shredding the remainder of the money.
Gabe, thinking ahead, tethered the helicopter to a steel ladder on the cliff of the mountain. The helicopter becomes incapacitated, and the ladder snaps. Qualen will fall to his death.
The movie ends with Hal, Jessie, and Gabe sitting in the same place where we were introduced to the movie’s heroes in the opening scene.
The bulk of the Cliffhanger locations was filmed in a range of mountains in Italy known as the Dolomites.
The Dolomites are also often referred to as the Dolomite Mountains, the Dolomite Alps, or the Dolomitic Alps. Altogether, the Dolomites are located between the Puster Valley and Sugana Valley. Towns along the Dolomites include Belluno, Vicenza, Verona, Trentino, South Tyrol, Pordenone, and Udine.
Tourists often flock to the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. The Dolomite Mountains were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.
There are multiple footpaths within the Dolomite Alps that are open to tourists. They include the Ombretta Pass, Langkofeljoch, Grasleiten Pass, and Pravitale Pass.
The bridge scene was shot in Monte Cristallo. Many action scenes in Cliffhanger were filmed on the cliffs of Tofane in the town of Cortina. However, Durango, Colorado is another filming location of Cliffhanger. The film itself is set in Colorado.
Durango is situated in La Plata County, Colorado. Visitors enjoy perusing Main Avenue, a historic district in Durango. Here, tourists can visit multiple galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Other must-see attractions in Durango include the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot and the Animas River Valley.
Sylvester Stallone was originally tapped to star in a comedy film with John Candy, but the production was canceled. Instead, Stallone ended up doing Cliffhanger with the same production company. Also, the movie credits the Ute tribe as some shots took place on the Ute Mountain Reservation.
Sarah’s harness breaks scene in Cliffhanger
Vajolet Towers, 39050 Tiers, Autonomous Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol, Italy
Sarah, Gabe, and Hal are all goofing off on a cliff when the helicopter comes for them. All this is as planned. Sarah and Hal are in a relationship, but Gabe is their good friend. Hal and Gabe work as rangers who rescue mountain climbers and hikers.
Sarah isn’t as experienced as Hal and Gabe in regards to mountain climbing, but she can hold her own. The trio has climbed to their goal point, and Jess in the helicopter has come to pick them up.
The helicopter is tethered to the climbers as normal. They each wear a harness that connects to the tether, but they must traverse the rope to get to the helicopter.
Hal makes it across the rope easily, and Sarah is up next. She hooks her harness to the rope and prepares to go across. A metal clip in the harness fails, and Sarah becomes panicked. Jess offers to come to her with the helicopter, but Gabe says there is no time. He goes out on the rope to rescue her.
Still panicked, Sarah waits for Gabe to come to her. She’s able to reach out to Gabe and take his hand. However, she begins to slip. Gabe shouts for her to reach up with her other hand, but she’s too scared to do so. Sarah falls to her death in this most heartbreaking Cliffhanger film scene.
This filming location was at Vajolet Towers, on Tiers, Autonomous Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol, Italy. It is a one-hour drive taking SS241 East from Via Cologna, the nearest metro area. There is no public transportation to this location.
The plane is hijacked scene in Cliffhanger
Rocky Mountains, CO
A plane carrying millions in unmarked bills is flying over the Rocky Mountains. Most of the occupants are agents of the government, and they are charged with guarding the money. However, a confrontation soon shows that there are hijackers on the plane.
One of the hijackers is a pilot. He kills his unsuspecting partner in the cockpit, while the pilot’s partner dispatches the agents in the cabin of the airplane. The hijackers plan to hook their plane to a plane manned by their fellow members in the high-dollar theft ring. However, things will soon go wrong.
The hijackers in plane one intend to send the cases of unmarked bills to the next plane. He repels to the second plane to see why his partners aren’t sending the money as planned. Now the hijackers are turning on each other; one tells the others; I didn’t think you’d wait for me if I sent the money first.
As the hijackers prepare to send the cases to the second plane, an agent fires a shot at one of the hijackers. An explosion ensues, and the planes crash in the Rockies. To get to this location, you will have to take US-36 West to CO-7 West from Denver.
Gabe shreds the money scene in Cliffhanger
Marmolada Dolomite Alps, 38032 Canazei, Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy
Most of Qualen’s group have been wounded or killed. He has taken the helicopter once driven by Frank, and he’s trying to get the remaining money case from Gabe. Gabe has other plans, however.
Qualen tries to run Gabe down with the helicopter. Jessie is on the scene attempting to assist Gabe, but Gabe nearly falls to his own death when the ladder he is on becomes detached from the mountain.
Hal shows up alongside Jesse, and he begins attempting to shoot the helicopter down. He does make contact with the helicopter.
Gabe takes the last cash container and throws it into the blades of the helicopter as it crashes. The helicopter is somehow clinging to the side of the mountain, and Gabe and Qualen fight on top of the precariously situated aircraft.
Gabe is able to best Qualen, and the helicopter falls to the ground, exploding. Jessie tosses a rope down to Gabe, saving him from a similar fate.
Tourists can visit the Dolomite Mountains (also called the Dolomite Alps) where Cliffhanger was filmed. The area offers ski resorts and multiple hiking trails. During the summer, there is an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers.
History buffs may also enjoy touring the areas of the Dolomites that were a part of the World War I conflict. The Battle of the Dolomites isn’t a well-known battle, but you can see the terrain where it was fought while touring the Dolomite Alps. It is a one-hour drive taking SS241 East from Via Cologna, the nearest metro area. There is no public transport to this location.
Cliffhanger as an action-thriller film did not disappoint. The star-studded cast included not only Stallone, but John Lithgow, Janine Turner, and Michael Rooker.
Based on 55 Rotten Tomatoes reviews, the film was well-received. However, some critics felt the movie “borrowed” from other similar films. Cinemascore critics gave the film a “B.” Although the Cliffhanger film set is in the Colorado Rockies, it was filmed in the beautiful Dolomite Alps in Italy except for the hijacking scene. Different peaks can be seen throughout the film.