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Category Archives: General News
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, it’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 – thankfully — at last we are having a much-needed rest. It’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 on…
This area is surely the world’s epicentre of hard sport climbing. More than a few of the world’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 – 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, it’s the women who have dominated it. And rightly so. There is undoubtedly something going on here. Maybe it’s because “resistance” and “endurance” count for so much here. Or because there are some routes which don’t have stopper height-dependant cruxes. Or maybe it’s because the routes are so damn good, long, and inspiring. But whatever it is, the women have stepped it up.
We’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 – some are going to appear in print soon so I’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 Monique’s attention to that route, and she’s not the only one. It’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 that’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 I’ve been here I’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. I’ve seen a few men send it in the meantime too.
So we have one of the world’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 doesn’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 “second go”, yet the detail about them having been on the route the previous year didn’t make it through to the news report. Another time, a send was reported as “3rd repoint attempt” with no mention of the days spent working the route – of which I’d seen several. Now, I don’t think there is anything deliberately dodgy going on. I asked around and it seems that it’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 hasn’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 “shots”, “go’s” or “redpoint attempts”, without the time also spent working the route, and that’s all that gets picked up by the media, then it hardly gives a complete picture. Secondly, it’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 “try” or a “go” a “shot” – or not? I think I’ve got that a “dog” is a “try” and not a “shot” nor a “go”, let alone an “attempt”. Er what!? Yeah, um maybe I’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 “days”, i.e., any day you got on the route – no matter how long or for whatever reason – got counted as a day? It’s not a big problem, and should be easy for the climbing media to get on top of – 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 I’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…
Here’s a little video we’ve just produced of Monique’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 it’s the first little video I’ve produced like this. I’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? I’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 I’ll get even more psyched to do more of these. For sure, stills photography will remain my main focus but I’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. I’m sure she’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!
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… 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 — The Carrington Hotel Ballroom, Katoomba. $5.
SYDNEY — Wednesday 7th December — Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, 117 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield. Free!
CANBERRA — Wednesday 14th December (please note this new date) — Hayden Allen Lecture Theatre (The Tank), ANU. Free!
MELBOURNE – Tuesday 20th December — 1000 £ 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!