In Praise of Climb­ing Pho­tog­ra­phers

Climbing - - APPROACH -

Novem­ber day in 2013, the staff hiked to the famed route on Castle­ton Tower dur­ing a gear-test­ing trip to Moab, Utah. Se­nior Con­tribut­ing Pho­tog­ra­pher An­drew Burr kept us laugh­ing with corny jokes dur­ing the stren­u­ous ap­proach through steep sand­stone washes and crum­bling em­bank­ments. We fi­nally reached the ridge and a short tech­ni­cal sec­tion, so I re­moved my back­pack and went up to perch on the edge of the slop­ing stone and shut­tle packs. Grab the han­dle, twist, toss. Grab the han­dle, twist, toss. Grab the han— I lurched for­ward un­der the weight of Burr’s 65-liter pack, al­most top­pling over on the kitty lit­ter rock. His over­stuffed pack out­weighed the oth­ers by 25-plus pounds. I could barely move it.

On my half-dozen climb­ing trips with Burr, I’ve never seen him stop work­ing. Awake be­fore every­one else, he’s car­ry­ing dou­ble the gear, run­ning ahead of the group, hang­ing on a rope for hours, and hustling un­til well after every­one else is sit­ting by the fire, all while smil­ing, laugh­ing, and car­ry­ing ex­tra beers to share at the sum­mit. That doesn’t even men­tion the count­less hours of edit­ing, email­ing, pitch­ing, in­voic­ing—all to eke out a mod­est liv­ing. It’s easy to as­sume that climb­ing pho­tog­ra­phers have glam­orous lives trav­el­ing the world, tak­ing beau­ti­ful im­ages, and hob­nob­bing with the pros, but the truth is they work harder than any­one else in the in­dus­try. Their ef­forts give the rest of us the blood-pump­ing in­spi­ra­tion we need to bust out an­other set on the hang­board, save money for a plane ticket, or day­dream dur­ing an end­less bud­get meet­ing.

In an ef­fort to pay homage to those who per­son­ify the beat­ing heart of our sport, we present the Photo An­nual, a yearly cel­e­bra­tion of all things climb­ing pho­tog­ra­phy. You’ll find a look back at 10 years of Climb­ing cov­ers (p.24), a pro­file of a spunky fe­male pho­tog­ra­pher (p.26), an essay on be­ing the muse (p.32), and 18 pages ded­i­cated to the best climb­ing im­agery we’ve ever seen (p.54).

Fif­teen years ago, when I picked up my first is­sue of this magazine, the mag­nif­i­cent pho­tog­ra­phy piqued my cu­rios­ity and even­tu­ally con­sumed me. Un­like words, pho­tos have no cul­tural, lin­guis­tic, or gen­er­a­tional bound­aries. See­ing a climber high above her last piece with fo­cus in her eyes, grop­ing for a mi­cro-crimp and the wall fall­ing away 500 feet to the ground be­low is a lan­guage we can all un­der­stand. JULIE EL­LI­SON, ED­I­TOR


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