I just got back from an amazing month long trip to Slovenia and Croatia. Kate and I spent the first couple weeks of the trip getting familiar with the steep limestone of Misja Pec in southern Slovenia and then headed to Paklineca in Croatia for the second half of the trip. Brittany Griffith joined us for the second half which really helped to keep the stoke high (and made taking photos easier).
I think I’m still a bit pumped from all the steep rock over there!
It’s obviously not the US version of National Geographic Magazine but hey I’ll still take it!
Most of the readers of my blog already know last year I worked as Jimmy Chin’s assistant for a feature article on climbing in Yosemite for National Geograhic magazine. Well the article is out in print now (though I actually haven’t seen it…) and online. We spent nearly 50 days of shooting and then close to 10 more days of editing to and came away with 11 images that made it into the mag. Hands down it was the largest project I’ve ever been involved with. And needless to say it was an amazing opportunity learn and to see how National Geographic gets it done. I’ll be forever indebted to Jimmy for asking me to be part of the project. I barely knew Jimmy before the shoot and had a great time getting to know him and watch him work his magic. It was a truly inspirational project.
As well has learning a ton I managed to make a few images along they way when I wasn’t doing my duties as an assistant. Never in my wildest dreams did I think one of the images would ever get published, let alone the double page opening spread in the article, and the above cover shot. I’m still having a hard time believing it….
While assisting Jimmy I also shot a bunch of video along with Renan Ozturk that Camp4 Collective edited and made into 3 short videos that are airing online at NG.com.
(sorry I can’t directly imbed the video… click on the image to watch it at NG.com)
Finally got a chance to upload everything from last season down in Patagonia. Got to do a lot climbing this last season with some really great partners. I could probably could of used my camera a little bit more but sometimes just climbing is hard enough.
Looking at all the photos is already getting me excited for next year!
Last September between assisting with Jimmy Chin, for a Nat Geo project, I was asked to shoot a multi-week backcountry project for a great friend Fitz Cahall. He’s best know for The Dirtbag Diaries, but he has also produced a web TV series The Season.
Fitz and Becca’s dream trip finally came to realization, a month long adventure that would start in Sequoia Kings Canyon and take them northward criss crossing through the Sierra’s, eventually depositing them north of Yosemite National Park at the Incredible Hulk. Epic to say the least.
This was one of the most demanding shoots I’d been asked to do. Not only did I have to shoot all the video content but was shooting for a feature article for Climbing Magazine as well as Outdoor Research. Thankfully I had Kate with me for most of the shoot to keep me from going completely crazy!
As always Fitz and Becca did a great job producing, and how couldn’t they when their production company’s name is Duct Tape Then Beer…..
It’s been a week now since Kate and I were standing on top of the Fitz and I can finally say we’ve elevated our body temperature back to normal. Though it took flying to the big island of Hawaii to do it.
The mighty Fitzroy massif
Nearly two weeks ago now the weather forecast started to show a possible 4 day weather window. The only problem for us was we were suppose to catch a plane back the states right in the middle of the goods. As the predicted weather approach it became apparent that we’d have to change our tickets for an attempt at the Fitz. A few frustrating hours on the phone and 1k spent we were good to go. I kept telling myself it better be worth it….
On Monday the 7th we packed our bags and made our way through Piedre Fraile and onto the bivi at Piedra Negra. As luck would have it, the weather Monday night wasn’t so great. Just past midnight it started to sprinkle. To save weight on the approach we opted for no tent, so we sat there in a light rain deciding what to do. After much contemplation we decided we should just get up and start. It was 12:45am.
To our dismay the glacier hadn’t yet frozen as we made our way from Paso Guillaumet to the base of La Brecha. We had figured the it would only take us 3 hours from camp to the base but it ended up taking nearly 5. Which wasn’t that much of a problem but it meant we would then be climbing the Brecha in the full effect of the sun. Not fun nor that safe. Onwards and upward we went climbing right threw the waterfall that was starting run down the Brecha.
Kate on the traverse from the Brecha to the base of the south face
Due to the running water we were forced to stop ontop the Brecha in the sun for a couple hours to dry our clothes. At this point we were starting to run way behind. Little did we know were about to fall way behind schedule as we traversed to base of the south face. A few years ago we had covered this same terrain and has cruised right across it. This time we found boiler plate hard blue ice. Our old worn out aluminum crampons were drastically inadequate as well as our single light weight ice tool.
After a few weeks of poor weather and lots of waiting a decent weather forecast appeared on the charts. Kate showed up in early January and hadn’t yet climbed anything, so needless to say her motivation was high. Though the forecast was for cold weather we still had hoped to go do some rock climbing as opposed to a more icy/mixed objective
Kate on the 6 hour march to basecamp in the Torre Valley
I’ve got a long term goal of climbing all the major summits in the Fitzroy massif. After 5 seasons here I still had 4 of the 9 to go. (I’m not doing to well…) Given the short bit of predicted good weather the Chairo di Luna route on St. Exupery seamed like a fine choice. The route starts very close to the bottom of the West Ridge and climbs over 700m of near perfect alpine granite.
A few days after our successful climb of Mermoz the weather got good again. This time we were looking for something a bit less alpine and a bit more FUN. This is my 5th season here and unbelievably I had never made it back into the Torre valley. So without to much discussion that where we set our sights.
Innominata! The west ridge takes takes the face of the lower buttress and then weaves around the next summit to gain the true summit
The weather was looking good for two days but I was still a tad knackered from Mermoz. I couldn’t find the energy to go huge so we settled on the West Ridge of Innominata, a 700m climb with a relatively short approach and an easy descent. Perfect!
After two tries this season and an attempt two years ago, we completed a new route on the East face of Mermoz.
We left camp at 1:30 or so on the morning of the 28th making our way to the base of Mermoz just as it was getting light. I took the first block leading up two easy rock and mixed pitches to gain the main gully. I then continued on for two more moderate (AI 3, M5) pitches before turning over the lead to Colin Haley (who decided to join kinda last minute).
Colin "Cometa" Haley on the 3rd pitch
Conditions were much improved over our last attempt though temps were rising quickly and things were starting to get slushy as Colin took over. He made quick work of the steeper iced sections and motored through the awesome 6th pitch.
I recently arrived in Patagonia for another season of climbing and suffering. This is my 5th time coming here to climb and sadly I’ve had shit luck with the weather down here every time. So far this year has been no different.
I’m here climbing with Jens Holsten, a good friend and great climber from Washington. We’ve made a few attempts at getting up into the mountains since we’ve been here with varying degrees of succes. Our most recent attempt was looking promising with a projected weather window of two days. The forecast was showing zero precipitation, cold temps, and tolerable winds. This was a perfect forecast for our icy objective on the East face of Mermoz.
The East face of Mermoz with red line showing our attempted route