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The documentary short China Doll is a provocative exploration of gender stereotypes, romance, and rock climbing. Bear witness as Heather Weidner battles personal demons in the world of extreme sport.


With her climb up of China Doll in Upper Dream Canyon, Colorado, Weidner nabbed the first female ascent of the route, and became the fourth woman in the world to send a 5.14a-R graded traditional climb. In the months-long process — which entailed some 70 attempts — she discovered that loving herself is the ultimate project.

''I started to feel like I should be committed to a mental institution - I was a crazy person throwing myself at this climb time and time again, just to walk away with failure. Was I even close?''

— Heather Weidner, on climbing China Doll

This story in China Doll exposes the pervasive nature of unconscious gender roles and reveals differences in how men and women approach love and sport. Despite external achievements and support from her husband, Weidner finds it difficult to believe in herself. Her emblematic struggle is not just about discovering personal freedom, but giving herself permission to enjoy it. Is confidence a choice?


Weidner left a busy career as a veterinarian to follow her passion for rock climbing. Inspired by her late mother’s words, “Life is short and fragile, go out and get it now”, Heather took a step back to reset her priorities before heading out to travel the world to explore, play, climb and live simply.