Category Archives: Photographs
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!
Busy times for us in Europe… here at last is some news and photos from our time in France:
Monique Forestier (my wife, by the way, if you didn’t know it!) has climbed Tom et je Ris (8b+, or 32 in Oz grades) which is an incredible 60-metre route on the east side of Verdon Gorge. Approached by a one hour and twenty-minute hike and then by abseil, the route itself is super exposed, sustained and run-out. Quite the mind-trip! The steadily overhanging route follows an extraordinary tufa for nearly all of its 60 metres, although at times the route incorporates a couple of other tufa’s into the climbing.
A friend described Tom et je Ris as “one of the King lines” and personally I think it is one of the most stunning lines that I’ve ever seen. I’ve known about the route for years and have long been keen to photograph it. Monique first tried the route, or some of it anyway, one day a few years back. Her quick taster that day was enough for her to get really inspired but we had to wait over two years until we could make it back to France with the stars aligned enough for her to try it in earnest.
At home before our trip Monique built up some fitness — including sending Microcosm (31) in seven days. We then started our trip here to France climbing at St Leger where Monique got used to the limestone and tufa climbing — doing several 7c+’s, 8a’s and an 8a+ (Malaxe, in four shots). From St Leger we did several trips across to Verdon for Tom et je Ris and I started to rack up some belayer’s brownie points.
Tom et je Ris has a lot of climbing that is surprisingly technical. After five days of trying, and leading it through with lots of rests, Monique felt she’d worked it out enough to try red-pointing in earnest. But then Monique nearly pulled the plug. She said to me that she was pretty sure that she could do it but was impossible to tell how long it would take: it could be two days, or two months. Well, we certainly didn’t have the luxury, to hang about on the other side of the world, for her to siege it into submission. I felt it was a more interesting challenge, anyway, for her to try it in the time that we had left and so I encouraged her to give it another few days. On day seven she got through the lower cruxes and things were looking good, I was already starting to the thank the belay-slave god out there but then with a blood-curdling scream she can whipping-off from very high of the route. Lesson learnt: this is just not a route you can over-grip on and pacing is critical, you’ve got to play the game for the long-haul.
On day eight it took a few shots. Pushed to the max, it was an incredible fight. This time I didn’t count my chickens. From the screams coming from 50 metres above me I knew it wouldn’t be long until she fell; so I just paid out lots of slack and waited for the inevitable plummet. But amazingly (thankfully) it never came. She hung in there, gave it everything and fought it right to the end. The rope kept slowly inching out until I finally heard her victory “whoop” reverberating up and down the gorge. I think it was one of the best leads of her life. Such an incredibly cool route too. Incidentally, it is the first Australian grade 32 route that Monique has climbed overseas and her first since having a baby nearly three years ago. Awesome stuff!
After her send we had a little break from Verdon. Then a week later we returned for two days so that I could shoot some photos and video (stay tuned for that). The pics below are just a little taster, my best shots might end up in print so I can’t put them on the internet just yet.