Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sissified Artist vs - Wild Man

"Hey Forest, not to freak you out...but don't fall here." Scott calls as to me, as I gingerly balance on a spine of rock that moments before he had pranced across.

Earlier that morning, Scott, Blake and I loaded up our packs with climbing gear and left over pizza and headed out from Denver into the Lost Creek Wilderness. Two days mucking around out in the wilds with a couple of serious climbers was enough to expose rather blatantly what a sissified artist I've become. I never thought I'd use those words to describe myself. Yet as I panted up the trail to the approach, doding imaginary rattle snakes under every rock, inwardly weeping as shimmering mirages of cold beers dissipated, and eventually clawed my way up craggy faces that Blake and Scott very nearly walked up, I realized I was a lot less tough than I had thought. Oh and I also realized I have a slight fear of heights. That said, by the end of our time together I found myself "jumaring" up ropes to shoot from what I fondly refer to as "killing heights"; as well as laybacking, finger jamming, and blood smearing my way up a couple of pitches I would have scoffed at the idea of climbing a couple days earlier. 

In all this I found myself frequently chewing on my own advice that I so love to sling around..."photograph what you know". 
I do not "know" climbing, and it showed in my struggles to position myself, anticipate the "crux" moves, and execute the shots I had in mind. 

Of course, the best way to overcome this is to learn to climb. And so that is what I set out to do. 
Yet in doing so I found myself in the catch-22 that exists at the confluence of "doing" and "photographing".I cannot climb to the limit of my abilities with a camera slung over my shoulder, and I cannot photograph the way I need to without the ability to climb and position myself.
Enter the struggle between the "sissified artist" in me (who drinks orange-mocha-frappes and wears Sperry's and linen) and the ever-present "wild man" (who kicks cameras into the Aegean sea and kayaks off waterfalls). Did I mention I'm a Gemini?
While the symbiotic growth of artist and adventurer is is not always easily achieved, it is certainly something to aspire to, and I relish the trips such as this one that push the two to a head...


  1. great pics forest. it is hard to enjoy an adventure and also document it. but i think you did an amazing job. i can already see some of these the next time i open up alpinist mag...keep it up, and get over that fear of heights you puss...

  2. You do know the work of Galen Rowell, don't you? If not, check him out (Mountain Light). He excelled at what you described here! But then he was a mountain climber before he was a photographer.

  3. Great shots Forest! I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit on the climbing front, though, you did great!

    Let me know next time you're in town, we should definitely hang out,


  4. Awesome shots! I don't know what Sperry's are, and I'm pretty sure you stole my headlamp and took it ti Japan, but I can't wait to hang out again when you return.

  5. Hey Forest, you keep amazing me with your tilt-shift skills! Dude, for once, stop making us newbees feel bad:)

  6. Goodtimes...Great shots...I have so many favorites!