Oct 28th: A Decade of Climbing and Calendars…

Whilst I’ve been working on Climbing:2014 I’ve been feeling in a rather reflective mood. Not only is Climbing:2014 my tenth consecutive climbing calendar but I’m now into my fifth decade of climbing. Both feel something of a benchmark. My intro text to Climbing:2014 reflects my feelings on both the calendar and on climbing and I figure it’s maybe worth posting it on-line…

Back in the summer of 2004 I had the bright idea of publishing a climbing calendar. At that time I didn’t know what that would entail or how to bring that simple idea to fruition. Neither did I give a second thought to where it might go in the future. To coin a phrase, I had a dream, and set off in pursuit of that dream armed with a camera and a bag of lenses, an address book, a shelf-full of guidebooks and a bunch of ideas. My mission was underwritten in my mind by a number of objectives which I came to treat as core values: produce a premium product; include an eclectic mix of striking climbing images from the UK, Europe and beyond; include images of both inspirational and aspirational climbing across the grade range; include all the disparate climbing styles; feature male and female climbers as well as heroes and non-heroes alike. And to make matters even more authentic feature seasonal images as well and take them in the month they were to appear in!

A decade on, Climbing 2014 is my tenth calendar and, save the last of the criteria listed above, my mission and core values remain as they were back in 2004. Not surprisingly, the decade has flown by in no time at all! Climbing is now even more polarised than it was: sport climbing is becoming middle-aged; many boulderers don’t own ropes, a harness nor rack; indoor climbing has a huge following and is an end in itself for a significant number; DWS (deep water soloing) is firmly established; hard trad is still alive and kicking although no longer is it just quintessentially British any more and training is no longer a dirty word, in fact, if you’re not following a programme and not using a stop watch then you’re not really training at all!

And yet, despite all this nu-skool agenda, fundamentally climbing is the same as it was, climbers getting it on with the rock! One glorious Saturday in August I drove north to the Yorkshire Dales to capture some images for the calendar. In the car, along with myself, was Paul Reeve, Steve McClure and Buster Martin. At the ripe young age of 50 Paul had just plucked an ascent of Cry Freedom (now reckoned to be F8c). Buster had done Bat Route (another F8c) earlier in the year when he was a mere 16 and Steve McClure, for his part, had nailed Batman (at F9a/+). I was struck by the disparate circumstances of us all but by the strength of the common bond that was climbing that wove us all together. I couldn’t help but take delight at that bond.

So, Climbing 2014 features yet another eclectic mix of images, some of firm classics and others of new routes that are likely to become classics of tomorrow. Climbing isn’t easy, nothing worth doing ever is. That a significant number of us are driven by the need for exploration is to our sport’s benefit. New developments are the life-blood of climbing; they fuel the inner drive of so many of us and help keep climbing fresh and exciting. I’ve no more idea what the next years will bring in climbing than the next person – but here’s to the journey wherever it takes us. And finally, thanks to all who have been involved with my calendars over the last 10 years – it’s been a blast.

So there you have it; my reflections of a decade of calendars. This being a photographic blog I can’t really leave without an image or two so here’s a few more shots of Neil and Claire on the somewhat ‘off radar’ Hanging out at Glastonbury at Castell Helen, images which were shot for the calendar on an absolute cracking summer’s day. It seems a lifetime away already…

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This entry was posted in Climbing, KSP Publications, Photography.