I’m really not sure what I love more: climbing or photography. However, I do know the best of both worlds is to take pictures of people while they climb. My last adventure to Indian Creek allowed me to do just that. There are some photographs that I just refuse to take (most of the time); that specific photograph being the infamous “butt-shot”. That being said, I will do almost anything to avoid those types of pictures. To me, photographing someone on a route preserves a little snap shot in their personal history – their personal history of growth, perseverance, and strength. The following lead climbs are no exception to this belief.
Matt looked at this finger crack and just couldn’t resist: “It looks beautiful”. The climb is on the Pistol Whipped wall and is super thin with one bolt to protect on about half way up.
At the bottom of the route, Matt had to work hard to pull some boulder moves before being “in the clear” for protection. After climbing with Matt for a week, his sound of exhaustion mimics that of a horse. Let’s just say there were lots of horse noises at the bottom of the climb.
The route remained stout up to the bolt. Matt shakes out his arms in order to push to the anchors. As he gazed up at the anchors he stated the obvious, “Man, this is hard.” Good news for Matt, the beautiful route remained beautifully stout.
After it was all said and done, Matt did an outstanding job on-sighting this 12+. His perseverance and calm lead head never wavered. Although, when Matt reached the ground he said he felt like he was going to fall as he made his way past the bolt and to the anchors – “I was really scared.” Watching him climb something so thin with such grace was inspirational. There’s something enchanting about watching people climb really hard routes, let alone on-sighting them.
Kristina is one of the women I climbed with in the Creek. On our last day before parting from the desert, Kristina set out to lead Big Guy on Scarface wall. Big Guy is a burly off width climb that requires up to a #6 camalot. Off width (also referred to as “o-dub”) is Kristina’s favourite type of climbing and she quite good at it.
While she climbed and methodically worked her way up the crack by filling its void with her body, I got to play with my camera a little to avoid taking butt shots.
I desperately wanted to get some awesome shots of Kristina leading this route. Although, I had one stipulation: I had to be at the anchors to have any chance and there was no way I was going to be leading this route. Matt and I quickly devised a plan – we were going to convince her to re-lead it after she was on the ground and could regain her strength.
Kristina ended up making it to the top of the anchors with only one fall. Her only regret was forgetting to put on her long sleeved, off-width shirt. I top-roped the climb afterwards. The climb required a level of endurance and strength that I couldn’t imagine maintaining while on lead. While I slowly made my way to the top, Matt had worked his magic and convinced Kristina to lead the climb again so I could take pictures. Although, it didn’t take much convincing – she was stoked. Matt grabbed a top rope on the climb so she could rest before leading the route again.
When Matt reached the top, he huffed in between breaths “Yeah, I would in no way lead this. It’s so burly and effin’ hard.”
After 4 straight days of hard climbing in the Creek, it was no doubt that Kristina was feeling a bit worked especially doing her second burn on this gnarly off-width.
If you look at her hands in this picture, you can see that she has managed a no-hands rest. I didn’t hesitate even a second to take advantage of this opportunity and asked her to pose.
Now that’s a super satisfied face if I’ve ever seen one. Kristina made it to the top without falling this time around. Her courage is potent and inevitably inspiring. I watched this young woman put up a lot of hard climbs over the week. Her passion is invigorating; her energy exhilarating. Women like Kristina have such a delicate strength. I truly admire Kristina and I feel like I have gained something in life from merely spending that little bit of time with her. She’s a thoroughly legit human being and I appreciate her presence in my life. So to you, Kristina, keep living and sharing your joy of life with anyone and everyone you meet. You’ll never know just how much of an impression you could make.
And now for the last picture of Kristina on her climb. I saved this picture for the end of the post because it’s possibly one of my favourite climbing photographs ever. What was your favourite photograph?
© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/