Leading with Style

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.

Can you tell what this is a picture of?

Matt Reeser at the beginning of his climb – Nathan Martin, 5.12+, 80′

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.

Already pumped and there’s a long way to go

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.

Making progress

“Whew, I made it to the draw.”

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.

Thin moves past the bolt

Did and done!

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 Weyer gearing up for Big Guy, 5.11-, 120′ with Matt as her belayer

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.

Kristina calmly drinks water while Matt looks at what is in store for his climber.

Beginning Big Guy, an ironic choice for a small woman

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.

Matt’s impression of Kristina’s o-dub burliness

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.


I love, love this photograph

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.

I worked out lens logistics with Matt as my guinea pig

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.”

Gazing up at the climb once more, this time with her designated off-width shirt on

And it begins!

Rest one and she still has a smile on her face as she shakes out her arms

Style points

A bit exhausted

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.

“Look Mom, no hands!” Who poses on the lead of an off width? This girl.

By this point in the climb, she was very vocal about how tired she was


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.

The shirt comes off. Game over. Hell yeah.

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?

Ultimate style points



© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/


12 responses to “Leading with Style

  1. My favorite, though its tough is the one where it looks like shes getting close and you turn the angle of the photo around. I just like the angle i guess or the one with the crack as it curves up and you see the cam. WELL DONE!!!

  2. My favorite climbing photo ever was of candle spire in Australia, hopefully a wall i can some day conquer. But you are awesome at what you do! I just have to say!

  3. WOW! Some of these gave me a terrified feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t really tell what the top picture is, but it is my favorite because of the lighting! Great work.

  4. AWESOME PHOTOS! Kind of gave me goose bumps… Last photo is probably my fav. or the one with her shoes, cam, and hands. You have an amazing talent girl, keep it up. And Kristina, well, she’s a BAD ASS!

    • Ah, thanks so much Jess! I really, really love hearing about how my photographs affect people. Thank you =) And yes, Kristina is pretty bad ass. She’s super inspirational to climb with. She’s a great, great person with an amazing soul.

  5. Love this! Your photos are amazing-and so is Kristina 🙂 My fave is the two fist stack-wish I could do this an actually move off of it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s