enter email address to Subscribe to Newsletter
- My Tweets
Category Archives: General News
When we were up in Queensland we split our time between all the Sunshine Coast crags, which I covered in the previous post, and Frog Buttress, which I will quickly cover here.
Best known for the incredible concentration of high-quality crack routes, Frog also has a lot of high-quality face climbing.
Sorry I can’t show you more of my photos from here at the moment, they will be appearing in a feature article soon…
At Frog I employed my Photo Pole apparatus, Photo pole 2.0, for the first time. A few modifications have made it a lot faster and better to work with, compared to the previous design. Here I set it up to shoot Duncan Steel on Whistling Kite. The results were awesome, stay tuned for when my new Australia book comes out to see those.
Frog Buttress, not the only one but another great reason to visit Queensland for climbing!
A few months ago I mentioned that we were up in Queensland shooting and climbing. A lot of the shooting that I was doing on that trip is for a new coffee-table book on Australian climbing, among other things, but the other big project I was working on was a guidebook to several crags in South East Queensland. There were so many times when we were travelling around up there that I wished there was already a guidebook like this, so I’m sure this new guidebook will be a handy thing for many climbers. The guidebook is a collaborative effort with several local climbers but more on the guidebook later. The result for me was that as soon as we returned from Queensland I basically locked myself in the office and spent the last two months in full-on guidebook production mode. For a while it was a nice change to spend some time at home and have a bit of break from travel for while. Producing guidebooks is really satisfying but it’s not my main business and so when I work on one I don’t have the luxury to spend years pottering away at it; I need to fit guidebook production in between trips. The upshot has been that I’ve had my head down and been focused, neglected blogging and even emails, but because I was working with a great team we got the job done and the book should be in the shops before Christmas. Psyched!
So anyway, here is then a little photo essay on our trip up to Queensland. It really is an awesome winter climbing destination.
We arrived in time to compete in the Queensland Bouldering Competition, it was a really fun event run by Urban Climb. Somehow I managed to snake my way into second place in the mens Masters category. Don’t know how I managed that but it’s good to know this carcass still has a little crank left in it even if you wouldn’t know it judging by my performance on rock of late… But of course we were up there for real rock. We split our time between Frog Buttress and the crags up on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane. Frog Buttress is famous for its amazing crack lines of course; there were photos that I wanted to do there and Monique found a project but more on that later. The great surprise for me this trip was just how much great climbing there is up on the Sunshine Coast so I’ll start there… Just an hour north of Brisbane you have the amazing Glass House Mountains:
John J O’Brien got this shot of me abseiling into position for a shoot on Clemency Wall, Mount Tibrogargan.
And the result from the shoot…
And some antics up in the Summit Caves…
And Mount Coolum is a well-known sport climbing crag super close to the beautiful Sunshine Coast beaches. The climbing is funky and requires a lot of knee-bars. People seem to either love it or hate it, Monique loved it.
And close to Noosa there is the generally, but not entirely, slabby Mount Tinbeerwah with a swag of good routes.
Nearby we jigged and poked our way two pitches up Mount Cooroora to get some shots of a stunning arÃªte which John O’Brien (JJ) had established.
And if you head a bit further north there’s a popular bunch of sandstone crags at Brooyar.
So much great climbing! But you know, one of the things I really loved about the Sunshine Coast was that there was more than just the climbing. It’s a beautiful place to visit and hang out. I’m already looking forward to escaping next winter and heading north again, putting the new guidebook to use, and gosh, hopefully having a holiday!
So until next year, a big shout of thanks to John J O’Brien, Sandra Phoenix, Rob and Donna Saunders, and everyone else who helped make our trip up there so awesome!
Snow, in October, in the Blue Mountains, does not happen very often. Turns out this was the best dump we’ve had in 20 years. A good excuse to get out and play and snap a few pics…
It started dry and sticky, perfect for making snowmen…
Afterwards I tried to do some work in the office, honestly I did. But the lights were flickering and I didn’t trust the electricity, so I shut down the ‘puters just before the blackout. The snow was getting wet and heavy and bringing branches down on to the power lines. Only one thing for it, time to go for a walk….
Coco is nearly four so if think that by now she should be walking, well so did I. Out you get lazy girl…
Up on the highway I came across Angus Farquar seizing on the opportunity to attempt possibly the first ever ski descent of Victoria Pass. Not sure how that went…
Yeah I know, to all of you in North America and Europe a bit of snow is hardly worth writing about but around here this much is novel. Since I’ve been crunching hard on the computer for weeks now on a guidebook project, I appreciated the break. And since the mail didn’t go, that’s why mail-orders were delayed yesterday.
Anyway, good times!
When I was at Oliana, Spain, earlier this year I shot some footage of Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra attempting a probable grade 38 (9b+) project (called La Dura Dura — meaning the hard hard one). That’s right, they both seemed fairly confident that if sent it would be the hardest route in the world and warrant a new grade (there are about seven 9b routes in the world; most of which have been climbed by either Chris or Adam).
I watched Chris and Adam attempting this project on many days and on eight days also shot video of it for Big Up Productions. Every time Chris or Adam tied in for a shot I’d jumar up a rope and wait for them, high up the 50-metre route, so that if either of them got through the lower crux’s I’d be in place to film the upper part of their send. Sometimes I got to shoot from other angles. Not the most glamorous job ever but it was really interesting watching them work the route, refine their sequences and gradually unlock the route’s secrets. Well I won’t spoil the story for Big Up. In the meantime check out their teaser for the Reel Rock Tour. It’s good to see some of my crux action footage used there. I can’t wait to see their full clip!
Brisbane you rock!
We have been up shooting and climbing up in Queensland for a few weeks and having a blast, but I just want to say a quick shout out to everyone who came along to my show in Brisbane last night. The Queens Arms was packed and a great vibe too! Thanks to everyone for coming long and making it such a great night. The scene up here is awesome, everyone has been incredibly helpful and hospitable and we’ve been really enjoying the climbing. Got a lot to catch up on now but I’ll post some pics soon…
Photo: JJ O’Brien
Australia has a new online climbing zine, Vertical Life! You can see it all here.
I really like the work that Simon Madden and Ross Taylor have put into this so far – looks great guys. They say they plan to put out a printed annual, looking forward to seeing that too. I reckon it’s a bold move by anyone trying to put out professional quality climbing media in Australia (or anywhere for that matter – but Australia has a particularly small market). Having being involved with Crux Magazine for a while I’ve got an idea of the challenges they’ll face. These guys look well positioned to make a go of it if anyone can. Good luck with it guys! I hope the market is big enough for this to exist along-side the existing print magazine – Rock.
And in the first issue of Vertical Life there is a video interview that they did with me about my work and new book, Rock Odyssey. Also in this video I’ve given away a lot of the detail behind my new photo pole apparatus that I use to get some of my shots. When I blogged about this “revolutionary” new approach to climbing photography a while back I had no less than three different patent attorneys contact with some very generous offers to help out, should I somehow want to produce and market it. Instead of going down that road I decided to share this system with the climbing community. I’ll be happy to see other photographers out there using this system — and their variants of it. I’m working on some ways to improve the system. If you’re a photographer out there playing with this stuff I’d be grateful if you share some of the things that you might learn back with me; maybe together we figure out some of the details to devise a really efficient system for capturing mind-blowing climbing shots. That would be cool, eh?
Here’s that video below. Also on the Vertical Life web site there’s an article, Words about Pictures, where I give the background to some of my shots. Enjoy!
So yes, we are back in Catalunya, Spain, for a bit. We had such a good time here last year, we thought, well, why not? And wow, what an amazing time it is to be here. The climbing is great and there has been so much going on, itâ€™s a really fun place to be. The weather has been superb, primo, but last night a storm brought the first rain in weeks and so â€“ thankfully — at last we are having a much-needed rest. Itâ€™s a chance for Monique to grow some skin back, and for me to finally write about some of the things that have been going onâ€¦
This area is surely the worldâ€™s epicentre of hard sport climbing. More than a few of the worldâ€™s best sport climbers have been here recently, escaping the colder parts of Europe and North America to enjoy the early spring time conditions at awesome crags â€“ such as Santa Linya, Siurana, Margalef and Oliana. Lots of ultra-hard sends by men and women at these crags have constantly been making the climbing news of late.
In fact, if you look at the news coming out of these parts, itâ€™s the women who have dominated it. And rightly so. There is undoubtedly something going on here. Maybe itâ€™s because â€œresistanceâ€ and â€œenduranceâ€ count for so much here. Or because there are some routes which donâ€™t have stopper height-dependant cruxes. Or maybe itâ€™s because the routes are so damn good, long, and inspiring. But whatever it is, the women have stepped it up.
Weâ€™ve mostly been climbing at Oliana where, before we arrived, Daila Ojeda succeeded on Mind Control, her first 8c+ (Aus grade 34). This route is the awesome 50-metre resistance crag classic, which I first mentioned here. Soon after I arrived here I did a photo shoot on this route with Daila; here is just one photo from that –Â some are going to appear in print soon so Iâ€™ll hold off from putting them all on the internet, for now.
Daila has a really smooth climbing style, it was great to see. Brett and Josh Lovell from Big Up Productions are here and have captured some fantastic footage of Daila using an elaborate camera trolley system courtesy of Matt Madaloni and his Sea to Sky Cable Cam, definitely look out for that footage (probably at the Reel Rock Tour).
Dalia achievements have undoubtedly been inspiring to other women. The video of her on Fish Eye drew Moniqueâ€™s attention to that route, and sheâ€™s not the only one. Itâ€™s no surprise to me that once one of these classic hard routes receives a female ascent, other women are more likely to have a crack at it. And thatâ€™s what has happened on Mind Control. Nina Caprez also climbed Mind Control a few days after Daila and now the floodgates have indeed opened. Since Iâ€™ve been here Iâ€™ve seen Caroline Ciavaldini and, more recently, Sascha Digiulian also send it — with Sascha smashing it in just two days! Far out brussel sprout! (Has Sascha got a nick-name yet? What about Sascha the Dispatcher?). Eva Lopez was also trying it and will be returning soon. And the uber-strong Russian woman Evgeniya Malamid was making good progress on it before her time here ran out. Iâ€™ve seen a few men send it in the meantime too.
So we have one of the worldâ€™s premier crags for ultra-hard sport climbing, in peak season, with some of the best sport climbers in the world coming here — in peak form. The sending spree might surprise some armchair critics, but considering those factors the spree certainly doesnâ€™t surprise me — and it sure has been great to see!
On another note though, I have also noticed something a bit odd here, which could easily give the impression that some of these routes are easier than they are. And that is the way some of these ascents have ended up reported in the climbing media. I first noticed something strange when a climber sent a route second time that they were on the route that day, and their ascent was reported in the media as â€œsecond goâ€, yet the detail about them having been on the route the previous year didnâ€™t make it through to the news report. Another time, a send was reported as â€œ3rd repoint attemptâ€ with no mention of the days spent working the route â€“ of which Iâ€™d seen several. Now, I donâ€™t think there is anything deliberately dodgy going on. I asked around and it seems that itâ€™s just a way of reporting accents used by some climbers (probably very much a minority) from some European countries. Fair enough, people will report things in the way they are familiar with, and perhaps some of the detail hasnâ€™t been picked up by the media.
There are a few problems with this though. Firstly, no matter how well intended, if climbers are just highlighting the â€œshotsâ€, â€œgoâ€™sâ€ or â€œredpoint attemptsâ€, without the time also spent working the route, and thatâ€™s all that gets picked up by the media, then it hardly gives a complete picture. Secondly, itâ€™s not consistent with the way many climbers do report their ascents. And thirdly, and perhaps this one is just me, you know — an old fart, grasping to keep up with the latest lingo jingo, but the different terminology is a little confusing at times. Like, just when is a â€œtryâ€ or a â€œgoâ€ a â€œshotâ€ â€“ or not? I think Iâ€™ve got that a â€œdogâ€ is a â€œtryâ€ and not a â€œshotâ€ nor a â€œgoâ€, let alone an â€œattemptâ€. Er what!? Yeah, um maybe Iâ€™m a bit confused. Where did I put the Panadol? Anyway, if climbers want to report this stuff then whatever happened to good old-fashioned reporting of â€œdaysâ€, i.e., any day you got on the route â€“ no matter how long or for whatever reason â€“ got counted as a day? Itâ€™s not a big problem, and should be easy for the climbing media to get on top of â€“ if they just start querying these sorts of reports.
But I digress. I know the real reason you are reading this blog is to find out how Iâ€™ve been going on my latest project, and on that front I am stoked to report that after three weeks of top-roping I managed to send my 7b+ proj on my very first shot! It actually felt easy. Yeah, 7b+, and definitely soft…
Thanks for reading my blog. More soon!
Hola! We are back in Catalunya, Spain, for a bit, and absolutely loving it! Some news coming soon…
Hereâ€™s a little video weâ€™ve just produced of Moniqueâ€™s climb of the awesome Tom et je Ris (8b+ or 32) in Verdon Gorge, which I reported earlier here. I hope you like it!
I’ve shot video from time to time over the years, usually as second camera, getting the hard-to-get shots, on film, TV, and TV commercial jobs. But this itâ€™s the first little video Iâ€™ve produced like this. Iâ€™m really psyched to do a lot more of them in the future and got some exciting projects in the pipeline. So what do you think? Iâ€™d love some feedback and to hear your ideas, let me know what you think of my dangling in mid-air camera work, and maybe Iâ€™ll get even more psyched to do more of these. For sure, stills photography will remain my main focus but Iâ€™m having fun mixing it up a bit.
If you have any feedback for Monique, you could always let her know on her blog here. Iâ€™m sure sheâ€™d appreciate some comments too.
I shot most of this footage on a Nikon D5100 in full high-definition and just a few segments on a Nikon D3s (including the time-lapse). A big thank you to Darryn Rogers for his graphics, editing and grading. And also a big thank you to Moby for letting me use his music.
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!