Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words...

...so I won't bother with a thousand, and just include a few words below. Mostly I'll let the images speak for themselves.

I wanted to dedicate a blog post to some of my photographer friends. I'm ever so slowly developing an eye for photography. Well, I should clarify that. I'm developing a taste for taking copious amounts of photos with my pocket sized point and shoot in an effort to produce at least one image that's worth looking at. Turns out, this strategy has started working for me. What this attention to photography has also given me, is a real appreciation for actually talented photographers. As a professional athlete, I've had the privilege of working with some awesome photographers, and I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite photographers here.

Jamie Finlayson

Jamie is not only a budding photographer, but also our local Squamish crusher. Jamie's climbed pretty much all the hard climbing Squamish has to offer, and now has his sights set on Dreamcatcher, 5.14d. He's getting close. Jamie, his wife Natalie, and their two dogs Furgus and Oscar are also some of our best Squamish buddies. Jamie recently had back surgery, the result of a previous life as a nationally ranked alpine ski racer, and apparently falling off a roof or something like that. Only a few short months later, Jamie just ticked a V12. Wow!

Rich Wheater

Rich is probably the godfather of Squamish climbing photography. He’s been doing it a long time, and is the eyes behind some of the most iconic images of Squamish rock climbing. Rich always seems to do an incredible job of photographing the whole story, not just the climber, but the surrounding landscape too. Because, let’s face it, climbing is about a lot more than just the climbing. Rich, and his partner Senja, are also among the first few people I met when I moved to Vancouver way back in 2004. I've been going on climbing trips with them ever since. 

Chris Christie

I didn't really know Chris until he joined Jasmin Catton, Kinley Aitken, and I on a trip to the Waddington Range as our token male photographer. Chris is awesome, he does everything. He's a bad ass mountain biker, a bad ass big mountain skier, a bad ass cyclocross racer, and not to mention one of my fellow MEC Ambassadors. Chris always makes me chuckle because he'd be the first to tell you that he doesn't necessarily like all the exposure that goes along with climbing photography. Whenever I'm out with him on a photography mission I can hear him muttering to himself from his photographers perch about how much he's freaking out. But, he's always stoked to join in on a mission, and always takes AMAZING photos! I love Chris' work!

Andrew Querner

Andrew is like a 5.14 photographer. I don't mean he only takes pictures of people climbing 5.14's, I just mean he's that good. I get the impression he takes climbing photos to keep himself busy when he's bored. Mainly, he's a sought after documentary photographer, whose work has gained the attention of media outlets like, The National Post. Obviously, his eye for telling a story with his photography is evident in his climbing photography too. Below is an image from a series of his work titled, "Shelter from the Storm". As a climber, it's pretty impressive to me how much tension and emotion I can gather from this image of Sarah climbing an alpine route in the Rockies as a storm rolls in. 

Rich is like my little brother. I’ve watched him grow up in the mountains, and I’ve watched him develop as a photographer. I liken Rich to famed coastal explorers John Clarke, or John Baldwin. He has the incredible ability to suffer. His adventure of choice is long obscure mountain scrambles, all the while with his ridiculously heavy DSLR camera in tow. Despite the enormous amount of suffering he puts himself, and his unsuspecting trip partners through, he always comes away with incredible photos of smiling, happy people. Unlike some of the other photographers included here, Rich has another full-time job so he doesn’t get to updating his blog, or Flikr site very often, but when he does it’s full of not only incredible images, but detailed trip reports too. If you need beta on some mountain your friends have never heard of, then check out Rich’s blog. It’s probably got the detail you need, including where the best pee spots are on the approach.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Patagonia 2014/15 edition II

Since returning from Argentina, I've been getting distracted with fun adventures around home. I can't decide if the very unseasonably small amount of snow we have this year, is a good thing, or a bad thing, because I've sure been having fun climbing...and driving really high (not that kind of high!) on logging roads for ridiculously long ski tours.

Mid-winter bouldering temps, and no rain. Wicked! Photo, Jamie Finlayson

Second day on skis this season, and my first day out after returning from Patagonia was a 35 km ski traverse. My incredibly gifted, and grumpy, friend Rich So took a few silly photos along the way which I thought you might get a laugh out of as well. Photo, Rich So.

I. Look. Like. A. Smartie. Photo, Rich So.

Photo, Rich So.

The "Unlikely Alpinist" himself, Mr. Richard So with the oft-coveted, seldom climbed Vulcan's Thumb, Pyroclastic Pk., and Mt. Cayley in behind. Cool fact, in the language of the aboriginal people that inhabited the Squamish river valley, Mt. Cayley was called, "Landing Place of the Thunderbird". That's pretty cool! This group of mountains holds interest to Geologists too, as they are a part of the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Marius and Adriana halfway through our 35 km grunt, along the extensive Powder Mountain Icefield. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Rich just before we ripped skins and skied our well earned 700 m run to the bottom of the Callaghan Valley. Photo, Sarah Hart.

I got suckered into another Rich So death march a week after the Powdercap Traverse. This time Justin joined us as we made a traverse from the summits of Mt. Tricouni, to Mt. Cypress with a little bit of steep ice shredding along the way. Here, Rich and Justin confirm that we're going to right way, with the sweet looking north face of Mt. Tricouni in the background. Photo, Sarah Hart.

This is out of order but, whatever. Here's JB booting to the summit of Mt. Tricouni. Photo, Sarah Hart.

This is a new thing, it's called the "Alpine Unicorn". You're going to see more of this. Promise. Photo, Rich So.

Next I decided it would be fun to host an adventure right out of our backyard, so I convinced Joel and Paul to join me on a romp up our backyard mountain, Skypilot, for a winter ascent. It was awesome fun, and easy, as evidenced by the jerry-rigged crampon that Paul was able to climb the mountain with after his centre bar broke. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Joel heads towards the final summit tower of Skypilot. We climbed most of the route in near whiteout conditions. It made it a little more exciting. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Paul and Joel follow me up the final snow filled gully to the summit. Photo, Sarah Hart.
Alright, I'm procrastinating here. I should be sharing stories about Patagonia. But, I just can't quite figure out what to say other than the same old climbing trip report jibber jabber. So, in an attempt to break from the norm, I've got a little historical comparison for you. This season, among other routes, I climbed the Argentina, 600 m 6a+, on Aguja Mermoz, and the Austriaca, 350m 6a 50 degrees, on Aguja de L'S. I've got a selection of slides from Colin's first trips to Patagonia, including images of these same routes. Turns out, it's kind of cool to look at his old photos from 2003, and 2005, and then see my photos on the same routes from 2014/15.

Argentina, 600 m 6a+, Aguja Mermoz

Mark Westman following the initial third class ramps in 2005, on the Argentina. Photo, Colin Haley.

Here, Jenny leads off on the same third class ramps in 2014. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Mark following Colin through an iced up chimney just above the third class ramps in 2005. Photo, Colin Haley.

Mark following Colin across a low angle ramp above the icey chimney, to the start of the more technical climbing in 2005. Photo, Colin Haley.

Jenny climbs across the same low angle ramps to the base of the technical climbing in 2014. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Mark following the poor quality 5.8 chimney's in 2005. Photo, Colin Haley.

Me following those same low quality 5.8 chimney's in 2014.  Photo, Doerte Pietron.

Mark leading into the higher quality rock in 2005. Photo, Colin Haley.

Doerte following through that same improving rock in 2014. Photo, Jenny Abegg.

Hey, that rock is looking better now! Mark following higher on the west face. Photo, Colin Haley.

Mark at the base of the crux pitch in 2005. Photo, Colin Haley.

Me, leading that same crux pitch in 2014. It was a fantastic pitch. Photo, Doerte Pietron.

This is looking down that same crux pitch in 2014, to the same ledge in Colin's photo from 2005. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Here I'm leading one more pitch on the west face before joining the lower angle north ridge in 2014. Photo, Doerte Pietron. 

Mark on the lower angle north ridge in 2005, with the west face of Aguja Guillaumet visible behind. Photo, Colin Haley. 

A shot from 2014 of a similar location. Doerte, and Jenny follow the low angle north ridge, with Guillaumet visible behind. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Mark just below the summit of Mermoz in 2005. Photo, Colin Haley.

The girls in 2014, at just about the same spot. Photo, Sarah Hart.

A typical dudes summit shot from 2005. Is Mark giving us "blue steel"? Photo, Colin Haley.

And what's this? Mark Westman, still playing it up for the camera in 2014. Photo, Sarah Hart.

This is more like it. An all girls summit shot in 2014. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Taking in the views from the summit of Mermoz. Photo, Doerte Pietron.

This was kind of exciting. We had to slide down this fin of rock with hundreds of metres of air below us. I wore a hole in the crotch of my pants I was so gripped...literally. Photo, Jenny Abegg.

I had to include this photo. As sketchy as this looks, it wasn't, and it was pretty much the raddest rappel horn ever! Photo, Sarah Hart.

Doerte setting up the first rappel back onto the west face of Mermoz. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Back where we started, and it wasn't even dark yet! Photo, Sarah Hart. 

Austriaca, 350m 6a 50 degrees, Aguja de L'S

Jenny on the approach to the Austriaca in 2015. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Photo, Sarah Hart.

And here is a photo on the same route from Colin's very first trip to Patagonia in 2003. Photo, Colin Haley.

Recognize that ridge? Jenny crosses the same ridge seen above, during our 2015 trip. Photo, Sarah Hart. 

Here's a party of three beginning the final pitches to the summit. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Me following Jenny to the summit in 2015. Photo, Jenny Abegg.

Here, Bart Paul rappels off the summit of Aguja de L'S in 2003. Photo, Colin Haley.

And Jenny rapping off the summit tower in 2015. Photo, Sarah Hart.

Jenny walking back across that beautiful ridge on the descent of de L'S. Aguja St. Exupery towers behind. Photo, Sarah Hart.

And just like that, back at the airport and time to head home. Photo, Sarah Hart.