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2014, bring it on!

By 9 January 2014General News

See you later 2013! There were some fun times eh; we saw some great places, hung out with some good friends, we tried to do some good work, captured a few good images and perhaps even came close to snagging a great one — close enough at least to keep the psych high. But let’s be honest here; at times you were a shit of a year too. So thank you 2013 for some good times, but I’m happy to be moving on.

I’m super-excited about our plans for 2014 but before we get too far into that I wanted to wrap up Two-Zero-One-Three. Here are some quick highlights, some lowlights, a mention of some places that I never found the time to write up — and some things that needed to be said.

First up, 2013 actually marked quite a milestone — the 20th anniversary of Onsight Photography! I’m actually very stoked to have made it thus far. I just started out as a kid with a camera (well a grown up kid I guess) who was following his passion and climbing full-time. I saw a lot of goodness around me — inspiring people and beautiful places. I wanted to share the things that I saw; I loved the creativity of photography – and it got me excited. It has taken me to some of the most spectacular places on the planet. Thank you to everyone who has supported my work — I’m very very grateful indeed for all the support and opportunities that I’ve been given!

What a 20 years of Onsight Photography mashed up into a poster looks like. Yep, quite a mess, but maybe something to help you pass time on the dunny.

What 20 years of Onsight Photography mashed up into a poster looks like. Yep, quite a mess, but perhaps something to help you pass time on the dunny?

So what happened at Onsight in 2013? Well, the year started with long hours in the office doing production of the Grampians Climbing: Sport Crags guidebook with Neil Monteith. Neil did a fantastic job and I’m proud of this guidebook. The Grampians is one of Australia’s world-class climbing areas and there had not been a new guidebook to the area in over a decade. There is something very utilitarian about guidebooks that I like and producing this book was a no-brainer really.


Soon after getting the Grampians book off to the printers I joined Monique and Coco in Spain. A great trip; I did a photo blog about it earlier here. I got some good photos and even managed to video Chris Sharma actually sending La Dura Dura — his long-term project and the world’s hardest rock climb. The previous year I had spent many days working for Big Up Productions, jugging up a rope and filming Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra every time they attempted the route, so it was especially sweet to see the send and also to capture it on film. Wouldn’t want to have missed that! I’m happy to say that you can now see the footage of Chris’s send in La Dura Dura Complete, which is part of the Reel Rock 8 DVD or download that Big Up have released here. Andrew Bisharat described it as “best sport climbing footage I’ve ever seen” in his in-depth review here. Don’t miss it!

Chris Sharma working his 9b+ (5.15c) La Dura, Dura project at Oliana.

Chris Sharma working his 9b+ (5.15c) La Dura, Dura project at Oliana.

After returning home from Spain I chained myself to the computer for a few more weeks to finish production of another guidebook — Arapiles: 444 of the Best, which is authored by my good friend Gordon Poultney. I talked about it earlier here. Released in June, it’s a small pocket-sized budget-priced book. I’m proud of it and happy that we have done something positive for the climbing community with this book. With nearly 90 topo and overview photographs this is a really useful stand-alone guidebook which makes route-finding relatively easy. I’d like to make it clear that I’m not interested in producing guidebooks to areas which have already been adequately covered by other guidebooks. Life is too short. But when it came to Arapiles there was only one guidebook available — it is a fairly comprehensive guidebook and it is a great book — but it is big, heavy and expensive. There was nothing for short-term visitors, travellers, those on a budget, or anyone who just wanted a small/light book and/or a selection of the classic routes. Something was crying out to be done. We did it and I am very happy that we gave climbers an option.

ARAPILES 444 cover 300px In May I did a trip to Moonarie in South Australia, shooting photos for my new Rock Climbing in Australia book that I’m working on. It was a great trip with some good friends; my photo blog about it is here.

Under the stars at Top Camp, Moonarie. 30 second exposure with cliffs painted by headtorches

Under the stars at Top Camp, Moonarie. 30 second exposure with cliffs painted by head torches.

But the trip ended abruptly when news came through that my father was in hospital suffering heart failure (and quite some time later pneumonia was also diagnosed). I raced back to his hospital in Canberra to find him weak but in good spirits and itching to get back on the tennis court. Thankfully his condition improved and he was released from hospital a few weeks later.

So then in June Monique, Coco and I made a trip over to Western Australia, teamed up with our good friends John O’Brien and Sam and Lee Cujes from Queensland, hooked up with some locals and headed to Kalbarri Gorge. It was a super-fun action-packed few days, made more exciting by the dodgy 4wd access into the area because the main road was closed for road works.

Lee Cujes on Rattler (22), Kalbarri. Apparently Lee had wanted to visit this place after seeing a photo of a climber on this route in a certain calendar... I hope we wasn't too disappointed! (Sorry Lee!).

Lee Cujes on Rattler (22), Kalbarri. Apparently Lee had wanted to visit this place after seeing a photo of a climber on this route in a certain calendar… I hope we wasn’t too disappointed! (Sorry Lee!).

I haven’t written a trip report about this one but Monique and Lee have already got it covered on their blogs here and here, respectively. Check them out!

Monique hiking in Kalbarri Gorge.

Monique hiking in Kalbarri Gorge.

After our Kalbarri blitz Monique, Coco and I headed down to Margaret River, met some super-cool friendly and helpful locals and were having a blast dodging the weather and doing our best to get out on the crags around there. Then boom. In came the news. My father had died.


Me with Dad at his Canberra home in 2010. With me looking concerned with how Mum was struggling to hold my camera…

My dad was Edwin Keith Carter, but was known by most as Keith. He had died peacefully in his sleep at home at age 93. As this is my – and my family’s – personal loss I’m reluctant to mention it and honestly don’t need to have messages of condolences (it was six months ago now anyway). But it’s a simple fact that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now without my father’s simply extraordinary support through the years. To me, Dad deserves so much more than just a passing mention in a blog post, so until I find a better way to honour my father I want to say a few things about this special man.

When I think of my father his resilience, hard work ethic, selfless contributions to others, and incredibly sound character, come foremost to mind. Keith was born and bred in country Victoria (Benalla) and went off to WWII when he was 20. He served in the Middle East and New Guinea and he was at Milne Bay (the Battle of Milne Bay was a turning point in the war), and he also managed to survive a hard fight with malaria and septicaemia. Dad returned from the war as a Sergeant but two of his brothers, one of whom was his twin, didn’t return. After the war he studied geology, moved to Canberra (where he met my mum) and worked for the Bureau of Mineral Resources for many years and did his PhD. Dad rode around the Snowy Mountains on horseback working on the geology behind the Hydro Electric Scheme, and did long field trips to Queensland and the Northern Territory, often sleeping under the stars. He is credited as the discoverer of the Constance Range body of iron ore. Among other things he worked on the science about how nuclear bomb testing was affecting Mururoa Atoll, thereby giving the Australian Government some sound scientific arguments, and an imperative, to tell the French to take their stupid bombs elsewhere. He also worked on engineering geology matters for hydro-electric schemes in PNG and for the urban development of Canberra. In his later years Dad’s work was more administrative; but he didn’t stop working till he was 70. He was an active, devoted, member of his local church. And Dad was still swinging his tennis racket with potent effect every week, at age 93, right up until his health declined at the end.

Obviously I’ve got my father to thank for many things but one thing stands out. I never felt judged by my Dad but always felt incredibly supported in all the silly crazy perhaps irresponsible things that I wanted and tried to do. He also raised my two older brothers, Jon and Andrew, both of whom I consider to be super-intelligent and are very successful in their fields, so he must have done something right there. I am extremely grateful for the full and valuable life that he lived, and for the gentle way that he departed this world. He was a man of his generation; one we can learn so much from.

Rest in peace, Dad.

Frederick's Peak, near Townsville.

Frederick’s Peak, near Townsville.

So then, a few weeks after Dad’s passing the opportunity for a Townsville trip came up. I wasn’t too sure if there was enough climbing there to justify the trip. It was a fast trip with just 5 days to cover all the crags in the area. In the end I was blown away by the great climbing and the small vibrant scene — who all helped make it super-productive and fun. Thanks so much to Madoc and Sarah Sheehan, Chris Beric, Tomic Kluzniak, Rob Saunders, Marina Haintz, Jarrah Brand-Adams, and anyone I’ve overlooked. It was a blast to visit the mega new crag at Frederick’s Peak, the old-school Mount Stewart, the inner-city Castle Hill, the enormous — and enormously under-publicised — boulder fields at Harvey’s Marbles, and the idyllic playground at Bowen. I’m stoked with my shots; so glad I did that trip!

Tomic Kluzniak bouldering at Bowen.

Tomic Kluzniak bouldering at Bowen.

Soon after I returned to the Blue Mountains Alex Megos rocked into town and we thought something interesting might happen. So on three days I hung off a rope at Diamond Falls with my camera and sure enough — pow! Australia got it’s first 35/9a route. I blogged about it here and personally I think that’s a good thing for Oz climbing — and funny that it seemed to ruffle a few feathers. A great job by Alex Megos who was recently recognised by Climbing Magazine with a “Golden Piton” for breakthrough performance. Congrats for that Alex!

Alexander Megos, Retired Extremely Dangerous aka The Red Project, at Diamond Falls in the Blue Mountains. The first grade 35 (9a) route in Australia.

Alexander Megos, Retired Extremely Dangerous aka The Red Project, at Diamond Falls in the Blue Mountains. The first grade 35 (9a) route in Australia.

Also in August it was announced that Rock Magazine, Australia’s only climbing print magazine and something of an institution for Australian climbing — announced that after over 35 years it was ceasing publication. This, I think, was a sad day for Australian climbing. Sure, it is hard doing print in this day and age, and as a major contributor over the years I was acutely aware that Rock had its problems. The problems were exacerbated by a lack of contributors and supporters. The result is sadly Australia no longer has a print magazine. Yes Rock needed to change, but I don’t buy that “print is dead”.

In September the climbing super-stars kept coming to Oz — and Chris Sharma visited Australia for the first time. I was lucky to work with Chris and a great crew to produce a video for Prana about Chris climbing in the Grampians. Be sure to check out the video here.

Chris Sharma sending The Groove Train (33, 5.14b), Taipan Wall, Grampians.

Chris Sharma sending The Groove Train (33, 5.14b), Taipan Wall, Grampians.

After Chris’s visit I stayed on in Victoria with Monique and Coco for some weeks and did a lot of shooting around the Grampians and Arapiles. Loved it! As always.

Emma Cooper, Bard (12) pitch 5, Mt Arapiles.

Emma Cooper, Bard (12) pitch 5, Mt Arapiles.

Monique Forestier, Central Latitudes (30), Muline Crag, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Monique Forestier sending Central Latitudes (30), a 45-metre traversing route at Muline Crag, Grampians.

In October we were back at home when the bushfire emergency broke out. We evacuated, we thought we’d lost the house, but it just burned to our fence. We were certainly one of the lucky ones – 8 neighbours nearby lost their homes. I blogged about it here. We lost a few weeks productivity from all the disruptions but things are back to normal for us now – and most of the great climbing around here is unaffected.

What else? Well, we published our World Climbing Calendar 2014 and it had a great response. Thanks to everyone who is into it (and is in it)!

In November we set up a new online shop on this website. Please note — that we will soon be ceasing distribution of that other defunct Australian climbing magazine – CRUX Magazine. We want more space here so will be pulping all the remaining copies. So check out the CRUX clearance specials here — and the guidebook specials whilst you’re at it.

Then in December news came in that Australian climbing legend John Ewbank had passed away. This is a great loss to the climbing community he will be missed by many. We’ve been working on a tribute to John and will be publishing it here soon.

The Cathedral, Mount Buffalo.

The Cathedral, Mount Buffalo.

Then for me there was one last photo trip for the year, this time to the magnificent Mount Buffalo. It was nice to get back there again and a good way to finish the year.
So that all then wraps up 2013. We’ve got some exciting plans for 2014 — and we are psyched! We have some cool projects in the pipeline. Stay tuned to this website for a lot more images, interviews and news – among other things. You’ll see! Please check back again soon.

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Best wishes for 2014!

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Susy G says:

    What a productive year you’ve had, Simon. I hope 2014 is enriching for you guys. Lovin ya, Susy G PS That photo of the Cathedral is amazing!

  • Christophe says:

    You have a video of Chris Sharma sending La Dura Dura? You should publish it…

    • Simon Carter says:

      Yes. Thanks Christophe. Bip Up have published it at that link in my blog. I think that’s a good result, they’ve put a lot of work into filming this and it’ll get widely seen there.

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