Tag Archives: climbing

Sunny Stroeer – Grand Staircase Escalante Adventures

Libby and Alli canyoneering through narrow Zebra Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA
“Let’s do something that’s ACTUALLY fun.” Libby Sauter, Yosemite bigwall climber extraordinaire, turns to me with a pleading look while we’re huffing and puffing and shivering in the Argentinian cold at 18,000ft. “I mean it. Let’s get this mountain over with, and then let’s go somewhere remote and adventurous - but the type of adventure that’s WARM and FUN.” We’re just barely halfway through a brutally difficult six-week speed record mission on 22,838ft Aconcagua, capturing content for adidas Outdoor, and we’re already brainstorming our next project.
Cathedral in the Desert is a partially submerged sidearm of Glen Canyon and one of Lake Powell's many spectacular natural treasures. As water levels in the lake recede, more of Cathedral in the desert becomes accessible to intrepid explorers. Utah, USA. Self portrait.
Three months and one high-altitude speed record later I am still huffing and puffing, but this time in a very different setting. Libby, myself and our friend Allison are standup paddle boarding on Lake Powell as part of a multi-sport adventure - the very adventure that was conceived during those long cold days on Aconcagua. This time we’re focused on advocacy rather than on the quest for standout athletic performance: we want to playfully explore Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, to capture images and stories that can help advocate for the preservation of these tremendous landscapes.
Libby looking at map while sitting on stand-up paddleboard, Lake Powell, Utah, USA
Libby, Alli and I start out with long slow days of desert trail running and canyoneering before packing up to embark on a two night / three day SUP backpack. We each carry forty pounds of gear - paddleboards, overnight and emergency gear, and my full camera kit - cross-country along miles of remote and difficult slick rock terrain as we gradually descend into the hot maze of canyons that defines Lake Powell. Five hours after setting out from our vehicles we finally reach the lakeshore, tucked away deep in the sunless bend of a canyon.
Libby and Alli trail running down hill through desert in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA
This is where we’ll inflate our paddle boards and take to the water. But this is also where Libby discovers that she only packed in the blade of her three-piece collapsible paddle and not the shaft, which throws a bit of a wrench into our plans to SUP dozens of miles in the next 48 hours. Hiking back to the cars to retrieve the missing shaft would be a ten hour round trip and is out of the question, but as the old adage goes in these types of adventures: “If you don’t have it you don’t need it.” We devise a way to jerry rig a workable paddle from our combined kit plus a tree branch or two.
Beautiful natural scenery of sandstone cliffs reflecting in Lake Powell, Utah, USA
The next two days are my personal crux: I am doubling as SUP guide - since neither Libby nor Alli have experience on a standup paddle board or on the lake, while I can draw from my lesson’s of an eight-day solo SUP expedition that I embarked on in these same parts the prior year - and as photographer while also balancing my camera gear on the front of my paddle board, camera and lenses precariously close to a potential watery death.
Libby climbing on sandstone cliff, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA
It’s not an easy setup but this is my favorite way of shooting: as part of a self-motivated, intimate project that results in organic imagery. This particular mission in Grand Staircase is just that - a passion project that combines adventure and creative work in the best possible way. And at the end of our time on Lake Powell and in Grand Staircase, the three of us walk away with a treasure trove of images, memories, and an infinite amount of excitement to plan the next project.
Libby smiling while holding Moqui Marble, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA
Close-up of desert primrose growing in desert, Grand†Staircase-Escalante†National Monument, Utah, USA
Sunny and Alli canyoneering through narrow Zebra Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA
Majestic scenery with submerged bare trees against sandstone cliffs in Lake Powell, Utah, USA
See more of Sunny's images here!

Remembering Tom Frost (1937-2018)

Tom Frost at the end of the Great Roof during his second ascent of The Nose in June 1997. Photo by Ryan Frost.
Tom Frost at the end of the Great Roof during his second ascent of The Nose in June 1997. Photo by Ryan Frost.
The climbing world, photography world, and adventure world lost a legend recently when Tom Frost passed. Our own adventure photography maven, Corey Rich, wanted to share some words about Tom.
Descriptions like pioneer, legend, hero, giant, and polymath are pretty bold descriptions that often get tossed around. Tom Frost truly lived up to each of those descriptions. 
On August 24, Tom lost his battle with cancer at a hospice near his home in Oakdale, California.
Tom was a friend, mentor, and giant in both the climbing and photography worlds. He was a pioneer during Yosemite’s Golden Age of climbing. He began climbing in Yosemite with the Stanford Alpine Club, and graduated from the prestigious university in 1958. That same year, Warren Harding had just completed the first ascent of El Capitan via the Nose. In 1960, Frost became part of the team that made the second ascent of the Nose. Frost went on to complete two more noteworthy ascents of El Capitan. In 1961, he joined up with Royal Robbins and Chuck Pratt and achieved the first ascent of the Salathé Wall, El Cap’s second route. In 1964, this same trio as well as Yvon Chouinard completed the first ascent of the North America Wall over nine days. This was considered El Capitan’s most difficult climb to date. His photography documented this era and these remarkable ascents with a preternatural ability for photographic storytelling unlike any I’ve ever seen in any photographer before or since. In my opinion, he was the most gifted adventure photographer in the world. Frost also had a background as an inventor, engineer, and businessman. In 1972 when he and Chouinard founded Great Pacific Ironworks and started to manufacture climbing gear. This company would ultimately give birth to both Patagonia and Black Diamond Equipment, the successful apparel and climbing-gear companies that we now know today. Later, he co-founded Chimera Lighting, based in Boulder, Colorado. What made Tom so remarkable, however, was undoubtedly his humility. He was an absolutely incredible human, as humble as they come, as caring and as genuine a person as I've ever met. Tom had a huge effect on me as a person. Calling Tom both a friend and a mentor has been one of the great honors of my life. He'll be missed by me and by many, many more. We'll miss you Tom. -Corey Rich
The North America Wall summit group (Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, and Yvon Chouinard), on a snowy October 1964 day. Photo taken with a self-timer.
The North America Wall summit group (Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, and Yvon Chouinard), on a snowy October 1964 day. Photo taken with a self-timer.
Yosemite climbing pioneer Royal Robbins aid climbing on the first ascent of the Salathe Wall on El Capitan. Pitch 3, September 1961. (Model Rights Clearance Available Upon Request)
Yosemite climbing pioneer Royal Robbins aid climbing on the first ascent of the Salathe Wall on El Capitan. Pitch 3, September 1961. (Model Rights Clearance Available Upon Request)
Yosemite climbing pioneers Joe Fitschen, Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins sorting gear at Camp Four for the second ascent of The Nose on El Capitan. September 1960.
Yosemite climbing pioneers Joe Fitschen, Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins sorting gear at Camp Four for the second ascent of The Nose on El Capitan. September 1960.

New Images for September

Shadow Of People On Football Pitch During Night Time Temperatures are cooling down, but things are heating up over here, with an air of competition to our new images for September! There's the story of a 750-mile boat race from Washington to Alaska, and a longboard slalom competition in Moscow. We've got athletes hardcore training with weights and CrossFit, or running outdoors to stay in shape, and excitable fans at a soccer match in Brazil. Continuing around the world, we've got imagery from volcanoes in Indonesia, epic landscapes in Banff, mountaineering in Iceland, rock climbing in South Africa, snowboarding in Japan, and intense battles with wind in New Zealand. See all of the best in outdoor living and exotic travel, plus secret underground tunnels,  free diving at night in Lake Tahoe, and some spooky images in time for Halloween in this month's curated gallery embracing the outdoors:  http://www.auroraphotos.com/result?webseries_id=14734

Tom Frost to be Inducted Into 2016 Hall of Mountaineering Excellence

Aurora contributor Tom Frost will be inducted into The American Alpine Club's 2016 Hall of Mountaineering Excellence during the Club's Inaugural Awards Dinner on May 7th, 2016. This prestigious accolade is given to those who have made lasting contributions both on and off the mountain. Climbers awarded have inspired a legacy for future climbers, positively impacted the environment, and advanced the fields of science and medicine, all while accomplishing incredible climbing feats. Frost is being recognized for his efforts in saving Yosemite's iconic Camp 4 and his many first ascents in Yosemite including the Salathé Wall. The other inductees this year include Geoff Tabin, John Roskelley, Hugh Herr and Libby Sauter. About Tom Frost Tom Frost is an accomplished climber and photographer. He began making first ascents in Yosemite in the late 1950's climbing with American rock-climbing pioneers like Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt and Joe Fitschen. In 1961, Frost and Yvon Chouinard, one of the leading climbers of the 'Golden Age of Yosemite Climbing', visited Grand Teton National Park and made the first ascent of the northeast face of Disappointment Peak. That same year Frost, along with Robbins and Pratt, began the first ascent of the Salathé Wall on El Capitan. It took them a total of 11 days and 36 pitches of vertical climbing to finish the route. In October of 1964, with Robbins, Pratt and Chouinard, Frost made the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan.
Yosemite climbing pioneers Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins arriving at the Cyclops Eye bivy on the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan. End of pitch 19, Fall 1964.
Yosemite climbing pioneers Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins arriving at the Cyclops Eye bivy on the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan. End of pitch 19, Fall 1964.
Frost is a longtime advocate of environmental ethics in climbing, using natural protection whenever possible, guided by respect for tradition and a desire to "leave no trace." He opposes what he believes to be excessive use of bolts by sport climbers, especially the altering of traditional climbing routes previously completed without such aids. Frost played a critical role in the fight to save Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, starting in 1997. He filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service to save the historic rock climbers' campsite with the support of the American Alpine Club. The effort was ultimately successful and Camp 4 was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Yosemite climbing pioneer Yvonne Chouinard checking out the view from Big Sur ledge the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan. End of pitch 11, Fall 1964.
Yosemite climbing pioneer Yvonne Chouinard checking out the view from Big Sur ledge the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan. End of pitch 11, Fall 1964.
Frost photographed many of his first ascents. Glen Denny, a mountaineering photographer and author of the book Yosemite in the Sixties, wrote of Frost's photographic achievements saying, "Most of the climbing photos you see now are prearranged setups for the camera on much-traveled routes. The impressive thing about Frost is that his classic images were seen, and photographed, during major first ascents. In those awesome situations he led, cleaned, hauled, day after day and--somehow--used his camera with the acuity of a Cartier-Bresson strolling about a piazza. Extremes of heat and cold, storm and high altitude, fear and exhaustion . . . it didn't matter. He didn't seem to feel the pressure." In 1979, Frost co-founded Chimera Photographic Lighting with Gary Regester. The company, based in Boulder, CO, manufactures lighting products for photography and filming.
Yosemite climbing pioneers Royal Robbins and Glen Denny on the Easy Street ledge on the second exploration ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan.  Pitch 6, Spring 1964.
Yosemite climbing pioneers Royal Robbins and Glen Denny on the Easy Street ledge on the second exploration ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan. Pitch 6, Spring 1964. Taken by Tom Frost
Royal Robbins offered the following description of Frost: "Tom is the kindest and gentlest and most generous person I have ever met, with never an ill word to say of anyone. He is also a man of courage and leadership, as witness his recent vanguard role in the effort to save Camp 4 in Yosemite. And he continues to possess the true spirit of climbing. Just a couple of years ago, at age 60, with his son, he climbed three big El Capitan routes, one of them the North American Wall." The American Alpine club will be hosting the Excellence in Climbing Awards Dinner, presented by Adidas Outdoor, on May 7, 2016 at the History Colorado Center. To go along with the keynote and induction ceremony, attendees will enjoy a cocktail reception, live and silent auctions, libations and fine dining. All proceeds benefit The American Alpine Club Library and The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum. Tickets are limited for this event. For more information and to reserve your spot, head over to The American Alpine Club's website. See more of Tom Frost's work here. 

New Images for September

Hiking White Mountains We've got all the running, basketball playing, hiking, climbing, cycling, motocross racing, skateboarding, surfing, exploring, outdoor relaxing and watermelon-eating-while-on-a-southwest-USA-journey you could want! For those excited about the shift towards colder temperatures, we've got skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing and alpine survival. Or perhaps remote travel and exotic adventures is more your thing.  We've got that too. Click here to see what else we've got, in our new images for September gallery: http://www.auroraphotos.com/result?webseries_id=14734