The show must go on! I’m presenting my World Climbing: Rock Odyssey audio-visual show in Sydney this Thursday night at the Patagonia store in the city (93 Bathurst Street, from 7pm). And it’s free. I’ll also sign books for anyone who’d like to score a copy on the night. For anyone who missed the show last time, I hope you can make it and I look forward to seeing you there!
Happy New Year and welcome to my website for 2012!
My head is still spinning from twenty eleven. Wow, what a crazy action-packed year that turned out it was! All the travel, assignments, personal photography, publications and climbing became a bit mind-boggling at times. To kick the year off we produced a new Blue Mountains Sport Climbing guidebook, then I did photography trips to Lake Huntley in Tasmania, The Darrans in New Zealand, The Grampians and Arapiles as well as a bunch of more local shoots, helped work on the pilot for a new TV show, produced Rock Odyssey which culminated six years work, produced the 2012 calendar, did a massive climbing and photography trip to France and Spain (and made a very successful visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair whilst I was over that way), then came home and squeezed in a series of slide shows before Christmas. Phew! Did we really do all that? Crazy.
So over Christmas and New Year’s I took a bit of break, enjoyed home life for a bit and catching up with family and friends — and incidentally also saw our darling daughter, Coco, turn three…yay!
Over the break I was reflecting on the crazy year gone by and I couldn’t really imagine backing it up with another year like that… But um, short memory eh, because before long I started thinking about the year ahead, started hatching some plans, and yep, this one is already looking pretty darn full-on already. No doubt, or at least I hope (because I wouldn’t want it all to be predictable), a lot of things will come up that I haven’t envisaged yet, but if we do only half of the things we’ve got planned already, then it’ll be super busy and satisfying as it is. I’m psyched and looking forward to getting stuck into it all! Details, details? Well, yes, all will be revealed (right here in this blog) in due course — as soon as I can — but let’s just say my photography and work on publications won’t be slowing down this year. One thing I’ll mention now: obviously a new Australia coffee-table book is well overdue but that is just one of the projects we’ll be working on… And along the way both Monique and I have some climbing to do too…Â It should a great journey, I hope you can join us for the ride!
Don’t get me wrong, my optimism and energy doesn’t mean that I think everything is rosy, it’s all going to be easy and the outcomes are a given. I don’t. If you were to ask me: Do I think the business of being an Australian outdoors photographer, particularly one with a climbing obsession, is an easy one? No, it isn’t and I don’t see that suddenly changing. Creative photography is nice and all very well but should I perhaps produce more, say, guidebooks instead because as least people have a need for those? Yes, probably, my accountant would no-doubt recommend that. Should I stop shooting so much climbing just because I love it — and instead spend more time shooting other subjects or put more effort into finding gigs for more commercial work? Sure, that might be a good idea, the appeal is obvious and many “climbing photographers” have gone down that road… Has the game changed much since I started 18 years ago? Man, the internet then digital cameras changed EVERYTHING! Honestly, for starters I don’t miss sitting in front of the light-box sorting slides for days-on-end. And while some good things (publications, assignments and other gigs) have disappeared, in their place a lot of other opportunities have come along too. And while every climber and his dog has a camera these days, I actually find all the creative energy out there really stimulating. I like that there’s more and more interest in what I’m doing these days, it was a far more lonely profession when I started out (and this year I’m looking forward to sharing more of my photography thoughts, tips and tricks). And the toys, well they just keep getting better (can’t wait to get my hands on Nikon’s new D4, drool… looks sensational!).
So I’m optimistic. And I’m going to keep shooting (climbing especially) and producing as much as I can. I simply love my life and my work and I’m grateful for the opportunities I get to do something that is creative and which excites me. I think climbing is the best sport, errr, no… climbing is the best way of life that I know and it as been in my blood for over 26 years now. It also does (or at least can) take place at some of the most spectacular places on earth. I simply love the outdoors and climbing in particular and I want to share that through my photography. I want to bring something positive to the scene. Let’s celebrate and appreciate the good, the energy, the really amazing things that climbers do. Let’s get psyched!
So to everyone who has supported my work: Everyone who has purchased a book, a calendar or a print. Everyone who was interested enough to come along to one of my slide shows. Everyone who critics my work and gives me feedback, comments, encouragement and helps spread the word. Of course, the climbers who have “modelled” or belayed for a shoot. The editors and business clients who have published my work, given me cool assignments. And my sponsors: Sterling Rope and 5.10. THANK YOU to you all! The support is simply awesome and I can’t do it without you.
Crazy busy times here at the moment! The slide shows and book launch evenings in Katoomba and Sydney went off really well: great turn-out and an excellent vibe. Many thanks to everyone who has come along and helped make a fun night of it all! Next shows — Canberra this week and Melbourne next week.
The book has been generating quite a lot of publicity. There was a big feature in the Daily Telegraph paper last week and another feature in the Canberra Times on Sunday.
…and on Saturday I got a call from ABC News 24 television and the next morning I found myself doing my first live television interview. Which, perhaps like a run-out climb that you manage to cruise for the onsight, turned out to be lots of fun — in a strange sort of way!
We’re back home from overseas now and I’ve organised a little tour of shows to celebrate the release of my new book.
The show will be a spectacular audio-visual show stopping at some exceptional rock climbing destinations from Australia and around the world. I’ll also do a book signing, so if you’d like to get hold of Rock Odyssey it will be the perfect opportunity (they will be available at a discounted price on the night).
KATOOMBA — Tuesday 29th November â€” The Carrington Hotel Ballroom, Katoomba. $5.
SYDNEY — Wednesday 7th December â€” Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, 117 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield. Free!
CANBERRA — Wednesday 14th December (please note this new date) â€” Hayden Allen Lecture Theatre (The Tank), ANU. Free!
MELBOURNE –Â Tuesday 20th December â€” 1000 Â£ Bend, 361 Little Lonsdale Street. Free!
7.30 for 8pm start.
Hope you can come along, catch up, help us launch the new book and enjoy the show!
I’ve added a gallery of some of my favourite images from over the years. Have a look at them here and hopefully enjoy!
If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it here.
Oh oh Oliana!!! Good times! I’ve bumbled around a bit here but have most definitely been putting my expertiseÂ as a belayer (honed from 26 years of hard-won experience) to good use. Regardless of the outcome, I am proud to say that my lovely wife Monique Forestier has been climbing superbly here. She is doing what she loves the most, has set her own goals and has stepped it up — really stepped it up — a notch or two. She has found herself a really beautiful long sustained route to try, graded 8c (33), and after several days work on it, I think it is fair to say, that she is now bee’s dick away from sending it. Will she do it this trip? Probably not, we only have two climbing days left. But it has been good to watch her climbing progress and see it come together. No surprise, youâ€™ll hear about it here first if she sends!
And here are some more pics from Olianaâ€¦Â This time it is French climber Etienne Seppechen (and it’s his blue t-shirt, Guillaume had just borrowed it for the Mind Control shoot!) having a good hard shot at the classic tufa Humildes pa Casa (8b+); unfortunately not quite managing to link it this time. Earlier Iâ€™d photographed Guillaume on this route in good light and had opted to shoot a wide scenic style shot to show the route and its setting (see those here). This time I wanted to do something different and needed to make the most of the light (which was flat as a tack), so I went to for the 70-200mm to get in on the action…
Here’s a new shot of French climber Guillaume Lebret on the incredible Mind Control (8c+) at Oliana which, as I mentioned earlier, he sent on his third (consecutive) day on the route. It’s such an awesome looking 50-metre route and aptly named too — check out the run-out, Guillaume has skipped the last bolt…
Incidentally, Adam Ondra onsighted Mind Control last year and there is an awesome video floating around on YouTube of that here — check it out if you haven’t seen it and have 12 minutes to spare.
As I mentioned in my last post, we are now climbing at the Spanish super-crag Oliana. I call it a super-crag because a) it is so cool and b) because it has the second highest concentration of ultra-hard routes in the world (nearby Santa Linya holds the title). Not that I can do much here, getting spanked on everyone else’s warm-ups seems par for the course for me, but I’m having a good time, hanging with a good crew and that’s what counts as far as I care these days. Guillaume Lebret continues his sending spree (mentioned in the last post) and yesterday we watched him do T1 Total Equip (8c), which he seemed to work hard for but once again it was in the blazing sun and conditions were miserable (well, miserable for sending, I thought conditions were quite nice for belaying actually!). Later I took these shots of Guillaume attempting to flash (but no cigar) the 50-metre Humildes pa Casa (8b+), a stunning route following tufa line for much of its length. Check it out!
The same day that we were at Gorges du Loup catching up with Muriel Sarkany, I had the pleasure to meet the very talented French climber Guillaume Lebret. He was trying to do Trip Tik Tonic without the two sika (glue) holds — and I snapped this shot of him on it. I didn’t even know what route he was on, just though that it looked really hard; only later did I discover it was the famous TTT. There was no joy for Guillaume that day but he sent it a few weeks later. Damn good job! Without the sika holds the route is French grade 9a which would be Australian grade 35 (except that we don’t have any routes that hard, apparently). If you can read French then you can get the full story on his website here.
I think Guillaume might be following us around Europe… We are now in Spain climbing mostly at the super-crag Oliana and Guillaume turned up a few days ago. We quickly went to work on the ultra-classic Mind Control (8c+) which he smoothly send on his third day on. We were then back at the crag yesterday (after a rest day) and watched him do another test-piece: Fisheye (8c) in the blazing sun — obviously not being the least bit precious about conditions. I think he might have got the send out-of-the-way so that his mates could enjoy the shady conditions later in the day. I’ve climbed for 26 odd years now and it was only when watching Guillaume climb that the penny dropped and I finally learnt the solution to climbing in crap conditions. Yep, darn it, the answer is: “get better”!