Tag Archives: rock 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.

Aurora Photographers Win Big in PDN’s Great Outdoors Contest

PDN just announced the 2016 winners of The Great Outdoors photography contest in categories including Action/Adventure, Landscapes, Beaches/Underwater, and Wildlife/Insects. Open to both pro and amateur shooters, The Great Outdoors contest celebrates the beautiful vistas, diverse wildlife and adventure that make our planet so unique.

We’re excited to share that several Aurora photographers, which we entered into the contest, were selected as winners in 3 out of the 4 professional categories including Sean Naugle who won the Grand prize in the Professional Action/Adventure category.

Our first place winners included Paul Zizka in the Landscapes category and Sergio Villalba in the Beaches/Underwater category. Chris Schmid and Chris Ross were also selected as winners in the Action/Adventure and Beaches/Underwater categories. Additionally, 3 more of our photographers, Adam Clark, Krystle Wright and Alasdair Turner won with their own independent entries in the Action/Adventure and Wildlife/Insects categories, respectively.

Although it’s always a challenge to select only a few pieces to submit from our photographers’ great body of imagery it's also extremely rewarding and validating to have their fantastic work recognized on such a big stage by a wide variety of  judges.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Check out our photographers' winning imagery below and browse the entire winner’s gallery here.

Grand Prize Winner: Sean Naugle

Professional kiteboarder Matt Thames catches huge air in the backcountry near Fairfield, Idaho.
Professional kiteboarder Matt Thames catches huge air in the backcountry near Fairfield, Idaho.
First Place Professional, Landscapes: Paul Zizka
Ice climbing under the aurora borealis in Athabasca, Canada.
Ice climbing under the aurora borealis in Athabasca, Canada.
First Place Professional, Beaches/Underwater: Sergio Villalba
A woman ducks under a wave.
A woman ducks under a wave.
Winner Professional, Action/Adventure: Chris Schmid
An aerial shot of a surfer, captured above Brazil's Praia Mole beach in Florianopolis.
An aerial shot of a surfer, captured above Brazil's Praia Mole beach in Florianopolis.
Winner Professional, Beaches/Underwater: Chris Ross
Offshore fishermen catching sailfish and dolphin fish in the waters off Guatemala
Offshore fishermen catching sailfish and dolphin fish in the waters off Guatemala
Winner Professional, Action/Adventure: Adam Clark
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa descends the Neacola Mountains in Alaska.
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa descends the Neacola Mountains in Alaska.
Winner Professional, Action/Adventure: Krystle Wright
Steph Davis ascends The Joker 5.12d near Moab, Utah.
Steph Davis ascends The Joker 5.12d near Moab, Utah.
Winner Professional, Landscapes and Wildlife/Insects: Alasdair Turner
A crack runs across the surface of the Ross Sea in Antarctica
A crack runs across the surface of the Ross Sea in Antarctica
A weddell seal in a breathing hole in the sea ice of the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
A weddell seal in a breathing hole in the sea ice of the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
   

This Just In: Kevin Brown’s Son Follows His Dad’s Lead

Kevin Brown, a gifted climber, Olympic level athletic trainer and veteran of Yosemite Big Walls recently passed away from an aggressive cancer at age 50. A man with a heart of gold, he left behind his wife Lori, two young children (Rachel 13 and Ryan 11 yrs) and countless friends.  Recently, his climbing partners’ families gathered at the house of El Capitan speed ascent record holder Hans Florine in Yosemite National Park to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the place that Kevin loved so deeply. A highlight of the gathering was young Ryan’s first multi-pitch climb on the 5 pitch classic line "Nutcracker".  He was led up the route by his Dad's three close climbing partners, Mike Carville, Christian Santelices and photographer Kevin Steele. Ryan is certainly following in his father's footsteps.

Click here to see the a selection of photos from Ryan's ascent.

To see more stock photography by Kevin Steele, visit Aurora Photos.

This Just In: Marcos Ferro Shows His Love

Mexican rock climber Isabel "Chere" Silva climbing kraken (5.12b) at the Actopan Cave, Hidalgo, Mexico.
A few years back, Marcos celebrated the completion of a big project with a large scale photography exhibit that profiled athletes across many disciplines. The idea was to pair up an action frame next to a portrait of the featured athlete. This rock climbing image was paired up with a portrait of Isabel, side by side. This particular frame is part of a set that features a fun little love story as its foundation. Marcos says: I first met Isabel during a photo shoot and little by little beyond that first meeting we fell in love. Now we are thinking of taking the next "big move" and getting married. After many shoots in many locations together, this place, the Actopan Cave is one of her favorite spots. And that is the most important thing for me as a action sports photographer, that the athlete feels confident where and with what it is being photographed. Isabel Silva is the first Mexican woman to climb a 5.13 and has now successfully completed 15 5.13 climbs.

To see more stock photography by Marcos Ferro, visit Aurora Photos.

To see Marcos' assignment portfolio, visit Aurora Select.