When I flew back from North America after a two month climbing trip to shoot the above photo it always seemed like a long shot. Seriously no pun intended. Just to travel interstate, let alone internationally to shoot a solo can put a lot of unwanted pressure on the subject. It takes a lot of trust between the photographer and the climber in these situations. The climber acknowledges that you have made a huge effort to be there but they must ignore these external pressures and listen to their own intuition and focus only on their motivations and ensure they are pure. The best I can do is be there at the right time and not alter the situation. I tell Danny that I'm happy to go home with out a photo as long as he is safe. This is part true, of course I want my friend to live a long and happy life...but I'd be lying to say I didn't want that shot more than anything.
More than that, I just want to be their to witness the climb. It is a confusing compulsion, this soloing thing. I've spent many hours thinking about the whys and whats of it all. Sometimes the best I can come up with is being exposed to my dads library of climbing and mountaineering literature as a kid infused me with this desire for this particular flavour of risk taking. But without ever understanding what it all meant and simply following that desire. In later years, through my own climbing, with and with out ropes, I've forced myself to try and understand it properly. This is beyond the scope of here and now but I will say that, its not something that anyone could have ever explained to me. I had to live it and experience myself to truly understand.
They don't get to much easier to photograph than this one on the left. To be able to capture such a magnificent feature so easily is a nice change to the usual shenanigans and voodoo required, especially in Tasmania. Its just a matter of finding a STRONG like Bogus here and then walking around the top of the cliff to you get to the point this pic was taken and let the shutter rip.
Its nice to have an easy break sometimes. Where you generally spend days walking around with a heavy pack full of climbing gear, cameras, food and sleeping gear to just get shut down. Seamless shots like this are welcome.
This was a little more effort. I'd wanted to get out to the Tyndall ranges for years. To climb or to take photos, I didn't really care. If only the climbing was as spectacular as the scenery! Its a bit out in the middle of whoop whoop, with a bit of an uphill slog to get to camp, but as far as big wilderness cliffs in Australia...the access doesn't get much easier. Once you arrive at camp, your basically at the top of one the most impressive bits of rock around high above the serene Lake Huntley. Surrounded pristine freshwater tarns and magnificent little micro forests of Tasmania's unique plants, It one of my favourite wild places.
Rappeling over the Main face, with 350 odd metres of air below you, its a seriously intimidating place to be hanging out taking photos. You take it easy, triple check everything but you still have this lingering voice in your head saying "yup...I'm pretty sure i'm gonna die any moment".
This photo very nearly didn't happen. I was hanging out in Freycinet the night before and waiting to hear back from Jorg and his partner Katha, both professional climbers from Europe, who were travelling through Tassie. Everything was telling me that going out to meet them in Ben Lomond the next day was going to be a waste of time. I'd never met either of them before and the likelihood of getting any decent photos seemed low, I was a bit low, and I kind of just wanted to go home. It was three hours drive in the wrong direction from home, and it pained me spend my last 50 bucks on petrol. This has since become a common theme in my life. Last week I got stuck in Natimuk, after flying over to take photos of Danny again, I couldn't afford a return ticket.
I met them in the carpark and we made the trek up to the top of plateau and rappelled into the wizard. I had no food, was a little hung over from the previous night and I was just hanging out halfway down this cliff for hours, whilst the two crushers worked the route. It was a magic moment when Jorg busted open a pack of dinosaur gummy things. Oh man, if id known him a little better, I would have stolen the whole pack to myself I was that hungry!
It was all worth it in the end, I managed to get some cracking shots and I remember feeling very happy with myself that evening as I drove home in a semi delirious state. Still hungry as, driving down the midlands highway I discovered that one of the greasy diners was open after midnight. It must have been the only thing open on the whole island bar McDonalds. Potato scallops and chocolate milk all the way home.