Indian Creek: Capturing the Action


One of the things I was really excited to do this spring at Indian Creek was to practice photographing climbing. Its really easy to take pictures of climbers that don't do justice to the climb or its context, and working toward conveying the things I love about climbing, especially climbing at Indian Creek, was a really fun project.

My friend Khash (pronounced 'Cash') became one of my primary photo subjects. Khash is a pretty experienced climber and was always willing to rope up and try a hard lead climb at my request.

One of the challenges I found was balancing the desire to convey the spirit of the place versus conveying the climbing. Sometimes a shot, like this one, spoke more to the context of the climb than the climbing itself, but couldn't be passed up.

This shot, of the same climb, was an attempt to share the struggle Khash was working through in his (successful) attempt to climb clean a classic crack called Puma, one of considerable difficulty with a grade of 5.11+.

Also of Khash on Puma, this shot sought to find some middle ground between conveying his experience and sharing the context that made him seem so small on the wall.

Much of climbing photography centers around working safely on the wall, roped up and off the ground, in an effort not to shoot from below capturing the ubiquitous 'butt shots' of climbing. Occasionally, though, they seem warranted, as did this one of Ian King climbing 'Deseret Moon' (5.11).

With this type of climbing, almost as much thought and energy goes into placing the protective gear one relies on as does making the movements to get up the climb. Here Khash places a piece of gear as he exits the roof section of The Incredible Handcrack (5.10).

Yet another challenge in climbing is capturing the climber's personal experience and emotions as they make their way through the climb. Here Ben Duewenke climbing the painful and strenuous fingercrack Sig Sauer (5.12-).

Fingercrack technique centers around slotting fingers into the crack, torquing them so they lock off, and doing pull ups on those fingerlocks with minimal help from your feet.

Then there's trying to capture your climber looking cool. Here's Khash, looking cool. There's an interesting blend of strength and finesse that go into climbing.

One of our final adventures this spring was a night ascent of the South Six Shooter desert tower under a full moon. Most of the climbing was mellow, not requiring a rope, but from the summit the desert landscape was breathtaking. Here Vinny gets set to rappel from the tower while friends look on and illuminate.