IndianCreek 3.2014-BrookeWarren1214-crop

Unfortunately Fortunate Lessons in Indian Creek

I made a huge mistake. When I made the mistake I was hanging on a fixed rope from the top of “Neat,” a 5.10 crack where I found my rhythm. Tears washed a week’s worth of dirt off my face and I kicked the sandstone cliff, finally feeling pain in my numbed toes, to get out my frustration. But I had to compose myself because Morgan Foster was starting to climb up “Hayutake,” and I wanted to take advantage of my vantage point from above.

This was the day before I left Indian Creek, the crack climbing mecca in Utah where sandstone buttresses are clustered in a desert valley. Approaching the cliffs involves trudging up scree fields of fallen boulders and the road to our campsite out an unmaintained road at Bridger Jack was an off-road adventure. We had spent the past week relishing climbing sustained cracks, the lack of cell service, golden light that swept across the cliffs each morning and evening and sleeping under the stars. I had taken countless photos of the climbing culture and my friends and family dancing up hand-size splits in the rock.  Sunshine peeking through ominous clouds and perfectly positioned boulders where I could get shots of climbers’ faces gave me the chance to work on photographing a sport that I love. I even had filmed a bunch of b-roll to compile a video about the trip.

Jamming your hands  and feet in cracks is a masochistic hobby, but it’s a fun one. I have a fair share of bruises dappling my legs from gear swinging against my body (I bruise easily), and all climbers get gobies (open sores) even if they plaster their hands with athletic tape. I climbed a variety of routes that had me squeezed under chock stones and 120 feet off the ground. Every time I got back to the bottom I was stoked, even if I cursed my way up because I was jamming my calf in an off-width crack or pulling with only the fingertips of one hand.

I was stoked because climbing requires me to focus. I zone in on the problem in front of me; thumb down, twist wrist, scoot feet up, stand, pull up. A bird nest lies nuzzled in the crack where I squeeze my fist and I reach the top of a climb, look at the landscape spread around me, and break into an ecstatic grin. Pushing my physical limits and appreciating the natural world just makes me happy.

This is all while I’m constantly thinking about how I can document the world of climbing. Experience drives my photography and I want to capture moments that make a viewer feel as if they were there. My photographs are my livelihood and my memories. Which brings me back to my mistake.

As I was hanging from that fixed line, I had just pulled my camera out to start shooting. And then, who knows why, I formatted my card. I thought all was lost and I’d never be able to recover my pictures from the past week, but luckily when I got home I was able to download Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery and retrieve the pictures I had accidentally deleted. The shame I felt making that mistake was replaced by the relief of recovering tangible memories and photos that mark multiple learning processes in my career. Needless to say, even though I now have the software, I will never make that mistake again. Maybe it needed to happen so I won’t make a careless mistake when it really matters. What an unfortunately fortunate lesson.

And here’s a few photos from a week of sand and stone in Indian Creek:

Robert Warren climbs "Elephant Man" (5.10-) as a warmup on his arrival for a week-long climbing trip in Indian Creek, Utah on March 21, 2014.

Robert Warren climbs “Elephant Man” (5.10-) as a warmup on his arrival for a week-long climbing trip in Indian Creek, Utah on March 21, 2014.

Morgan Foster organizes his rack before a day of climbing on March 22, 2014. Indian Creek is known for its sustained cracks that can require as many as ten of the same sized pieces of protection.

Morgan Foster organizes his rack before a day of climbing on March 22, 2014. Indian Creek is known for its sustained cracks that can require as many as ten of the same sized pieces of protection.

Notes flutter in the breeze of an oncoming rainstorm on a message board in Indian Creek, Utah. The messages are essential for climbing partners to meet up because there is no cell service in the area.

Notes flutter in the breeze of an oncoming rainstorm on a message board in Indian Creek, Utah. The messages are essential for climbing partners to meet up because there is no cell service in the area.

Morgan Foster tops out on "Crack Attack" (5.11-) in Indian Creek, Utah on March 26, 2014.

Morgan Foster tops out on “Crack Attack” (5.11-) in Indian Creek, Utah on March 26, 2014.

Morgan Foster approaches South Six Shooter on the morning of March 28, 2014. South Six Shooter and North Six Shooter, in the background, are two solitary towers that stand northwest of the cragging buttresses in Indian Creek.

Morgan Foster approaches South Six Shooter on the morning of March 28, 2014. South Six Shooter and North Six Shooter, in the background, are two solitary towers that stand northwest of the cragging buttresses in Indian Creek.

Climbers show off their hands wrapped in athletic tape after a week of climbing. Tape protects their hands from major scrapes while jamming hands in cracks.

Climbers show off their hands wrapped in athletic tape after a week of climbing. Tape protects their hands from major scrapes while jamming hands in cracks.

Robert Warren and Michelle Brugiere, who live in their VW van about a third of the year, camped below the Bridger Jack spires. Vans, camper trucks and a variety of other liveable vehicles are common in Indian Creek campsites.

Robert Warren and Michelle Brugiere, who live in their VW van about a third of the year, camped below the Bridger Jack spires. Vans, camper trucks and a variety of other liveable vehicles are common in Indian Creek campsites.

 

 

Wrestling Regionals

I recently shot the regional high school wrestling tournament at Squalicum Highschool for Skagit Valley Herald. It was the first time I photographed wrestling and my main focus was to capture faces. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Their faces were smashed into the mats, into one another’s heads and rarely facing my direction if they did happen to be looking out. It’s the nature of the sport. But when they did look my way, or I ran to the other side of the mat in time, the looks of desperation and strength that I managed to photograph were intense!

Adam Adkinson from Sedro-Woolley High School and Luke Jordan from Squalicum High School wrestle with cheerleaders watch from the sidelines. High School wrestlers competed in the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash.

Adam Adkinson from Sedro-Woolley High School and Luke Jordan from Squalicum High School wrestle while cheerleaders watch from the sidelines. High School wrestlers competed in the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash. | Skagit Valley Herald

Sedro-Woolley's Gabe Torgerson has the advantage against Anacortes' Ross Atterberry. High School wrestlers competed in the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash.

Sedro-Woolley’s Gabe Torgerson has the advantage against Anacortes’ Ross Atterberry. High School wrestlers competed in the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash. | Skagit Valley Herald

Sedro-Woolley’s Gabe Torgerson and Anacortes' Ross Atterberry face off at the start of their match. High School wrestlers competed in the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash.

Sedro-Woolley’s Gabe Torgerson and Anacortes’ Ross Atterberry face off at the start of their match. High School wrestlers competed in the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash. | Skagit Valley Herald

Sedro-Woolley's Clayton Johnson pins Cedarcrest's Ely Malametz at the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash.

Sedro-Woolley’s Tanner Roppel pins Lakewood’s Jeff Harrison at the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash. | Skagit Valley Herald

Head coach Russ Robinson and volunteer coach Wren Bishop celebrate Luke Jordan's victory in the 120 weight class at the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash.

Head coach Russ Robinson and volunteer coach Wren Bishop celebrate Luke Jordan’s victory in the 120 weight class at the boys 2A regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 15, 2014, at Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Wash. | Skagit Valley Herald

Double Exposure: Dynos

While I was photographing the bouldering competition at Western Washington University, I decided the “dyno” competition would be a perfect chance to experiment with the in-camera multiple exposure setting on my camera. It’s one of the most entertaining parts of the competition because climbers launch themselves up the wall from one hold to another.

I shot climbers focusing on their goal and layered it with the jump to achieve these photos:

2.1 ClimbingComp-BrookeWarren105

2.1 ClimbingComp-BrookeWarren111 2.1 ClimbingComp-BrookeWarren125 2.1 ClimbingComp-BrookeWarren130 2.1 ClimbingComp-BrookeWarren157-colorcorrect

Climbing Competition

I covered the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University a few weeks ago and had fun layering and trying to capture reactions rather than brute force. The lighting was a bit weird since they had colored spotlights on the climbers for the open finals. Sometimes the colors made the people a sickly shade of green, but other times the spotlights provided the perfect off-camera lighting I needed.Here are some of my favorite pictures from the event.

Brittany Goris tapes the routes for finals at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Brittany Goris tapes the routes for finals at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Liza Dinh, 20, won women's open at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Liza Dinh won women’s open at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Jimmy Eggiman laughs after he falls off a route during finals at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014. He got second place in men's open at the competition.

Jimmy Eggiman laughs after he falls off a route during finals at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014. He got second place in men’s open at the competition.

Morgan Cabe, 20, pulls through a move in the women's open finals at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Morgan Cabe pulls through a move in the women’s open finals at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Liza Dinh, 20, swings from the cave at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

Liza Dinh swings from the cave at the NC3 Bouldering Competition at Western Washington University on Feb. 1, 2014.

No Alto Maipo!

The debate for resources, jobs, environment, aesthetics and ecology seems to see no end. In Cajon del Maipo, Chile a proposed hydroelectric project would reroute the area’s rivers into a pipe to power the Santiago metropolis nearby. The region’s residents are split: Some welcome the influx of jobs that would come with the project’s development, and others want to keep the valley untouched to save the land for the native species that live there as well as continued recreation and tourism.

While I was living in Santiago, Chile this fall I had the chance to photograph three protests for the hydroelectric project as well as hike and climb in the valley to see the landscape the demonstrators were so passionate about.

A protester chants through a sign at a demonstration in central Santiago, Chile on Oct. 24, 2013.

A protestor chants through a sign at a demonstration against a hydroelectric project in central Santiago, Chile on Oct. 24, 2013.

Protestors gather for a demonstration in central Santiago, Chile to show that they disagree with a proposed hydroelectric plant that would alter the rivers and surrounding landscape in Cajon del Maipo.

Protestors gather for a demonstration in central Santiago, Chile to show that they disagree with a proposed hydroelectric plant that would alter the rivers and surrounding landscape in Cajon del Maipo.

An Andean Condor, Chile's national bird and one of the largest flying birds with a wingspan of 10 feet, flies above Andean peaks in Cajon del Maipo.

An Andean Condor, Chile’s national bird and one of the largest flying birds with a wingspan of 10 feet, flies above Andean peaks in Cajon del Maipo.

Chagul Orrego climbs a light pole to unfurl a sign in protest of a hydroelectric plant in Cajón deMaipo, a rural suburb in Santiago, Chile on Sept. 7, 2013. The hydroelectric plant would destroy the ecology in the canyon, but it would also bring jobs to the people living there, Orrego says.

Chagul Orrego climbs a light pole to unfurl a sign in protest of a hydroelectric plant in Cajón deMaipo, a rural suburb in Santiago, Chile on Sept. 7, 2013. The hydroelectric plant would destroy the biodiversity in the canyon, but it would also bring jobs to the people living there, Orrego says.

Paola Saente Marie-Kaiser, right, dances at a protest for a hydroelectric plant in Cajon del Maipo near Santigo, Chile. Her father brought their family to Cajon del Maipo sixty years ago and she says rerouting the rivers into a pipe will ruin the area for those living and recreating there.

Paola Saente Marie-Kaiser, right, dances at a protest for a hydroelectric plant in Cajon del Maipo near Santigo, Chile. Her father brought their family to Cajon del Maipo sixty years ago and she says rerouting the rivers into a pipe will ruin the area for those living and recreating there.

A woman waves a flag with her children at a "No Alto Maipo" protest.

A woman waves a flag with her children at a “No Alto Maipo” protest.

Anthony Prior, left, leads protestors in a chant on Sept. 7, 2013. "Luksic, cagón, fuera del cajon!" they shout. Luksic is one of the wealthiest families in Chile and they are funding the hydroelectric development.

Anthony Prior, left, leads protestors in a chant on Sept. 7, 2013. “Luksic, cagón, fuera del cajon!” they shout. Adronico Luksic is one of the wealthiest men in Chile and is funding the hydroelectric development.

The snow covered peaks in Cajon del Maipo are a destination for skiers, climbers and backpackers. The hydroelectric dam could prevent access and change the environment.

The snow covered peaks in Cajon del Maipo are a destination for skiers, climbers and backpackers. The hydroelectric dam could prevent access to the area and destroy some of the natural biodiversity.

More information about the issue: http://www.riosdelmaipo.cl/

Aboreal Carcasses

Katherine Darrow treks through a burned forest in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile on Dec. 11, 2013. About 125 square miles of land were burned in a forest fire started by a campfire in December 2011.

Katherine Darrow treks through a burned forest in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile on Dec. 11, 2013. About 125 square miles of land were burned in a forest fire started by a campfire in December 2011.

One of the strangest landscapes in Patagonia are the forests of tree skeletons. The burned bark of the beech tree known as the lenga in Chile (Nothofagus pumilio) turns white after the black char has weathered off, making them appear even more like bones. Fires are strictly prohibited in National Parks in Chile, partly due to the catastrophic forest fires that have burned through Torres del Paine National Park. The most recent fire was in 2011 when the flame from burnt toilet paper blew out of control in the strong wind that is characteristic of the area. The forests are slowly returning, and the pioneer species that carpet the land soon after the fire keep the ground green. For now, the aboreal carcasses remind any hikers or climbers not to start fires in the area.

Tree skeletons from a forest fire in 2011 spread across the landscape in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. The fierce and constant wind in the area makes any fire a potential hazard.

Tree skeletons from a forest fire in 2011 spread across the landscape in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. The fierce and constant wind in the area makes any fire a potential hazard.

Zac Cobb, left, and Connor Watumull dash through a section of burned forest in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

Zac Cobb, left, and Connor Watumull dash through a section of forest killed by a debris flow in French Valley of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

Mercados y Mariscos

A vendor displays an octopus, one of the many types of seafood he sells each day.

A vendor displays an octopus, one of the many types of seafood he sells each day.

Vendors at a fish market in Santiago, Chile chant their prices and hail customers to buy their seafood. They keep the fish for up to five days, while periodically laying it on fresh ice, before it is no longer deemed fresh. Seafood is part of the traditional Chilean diet due to the country's easy access to the Pacific Ocean.

Vendors at a fish market in Santiago, Chile chant their prices and hail customers to buy their seafood. They keep the fish for up to five days, while periodically laying it on fresh ice, before it is no longer deemed fresh. Seafood is part of the traditional Chilean diet due to the country’s easy access to the Pacific Ocean.

Katherine Darrow, a tourist from the United States, explores the traditional markets in Santiago, Chile.

Katherine Darrow, a tourist from the United States, explores the traditional markets in Santiago, Chile.

Women sell a variety of foods in their stalls at a traditional market in Santiago, Chile. Many Chileans shop at supermarkets, but open-air markets are still popular, especially to buy produce.

Women sell a variety of foods in their stalls at a traditional market in Santiago, Chile. Many Chileans shop at supermarkets, but open-air markets are still popular, especially to buy produce.