In preparation for the Squamish Exposed Photo Showdown at the 2017 Arc’teryx Climbing Academy, we asked photographer John Price to select 10 of his favourite climbing images, including his rationale for selecting each one. “I chose these photographs as they are some of my proudest stills, moments captured from the Rockies eastern ranges to the beautiful granite of Squamish,” says John. “A mix of alpine rock, big mulitpitch rigs & some favourites from Squamish. I’ve spent little time in Squamish, but can’t wait to get back there to climb & shoot more this summer.”
It was the last day I hung out with Anna Smith before she passed away last year. Many climbers across the world lost a dear friend & crusher of a climbing partner. We ran into each other the day before and it wasn’t long before we were excitedly hatching plans to shoot on the last few pitches of ‘High Plains Drifter’. After cragging in the morning, I packed a few ropes, camera gear & water and hiked up the chief, somehow found the top of the route, rapped down around 100 metres and photographed the girls on the last few pitches. A beautiful, warm night to be up high, doing what I loved most.
I’m the first to admit my crack climbing has a long way to go, and one of the drawbacks of living in the ‘Bow Valley’ is there are not many splitters around to hone your skills on. Despite this, I always try and throw myself at Squamish cracks when I head out there. ‘Blazing Saddles’ was an intimidating lead for me, but I knew I wanted to shoot my partner seconding and thats what inspired me to head up. Safe as houses, great gear, but a tricky mantle meant I took the whipper I feared I would. Here, Jasmin Fauteux seconds this beautiful line.
Last year I was in Squamish for a quick 10 day trip. While there I wanted to split my time to personal climbing & shooting. One route I was fixated on shooting was ‘Pipeline’. I reached out to a few people who I thought would be keen to climb this 5.10d offwidth, most were not overly psyched, understandably. Good friend and crusher Ian Strachan stepped up and the stars aligned for us to head up there, rap in and photograph Ian & Bonnie climbing this incredible line. It was one of the most inspiring stretches of rock climbing I’ve witnessed, Ian was noticeably intimidated by his situation throughout the route but held it together. Here he is placing his only Valley Giant, I think having two would have made the whole affair a bit more friendly.
As I was hanging off a rope and photographing Ian on ‘Pipeline’ I realized I was able to push out hard from the overhanging wall I was on and capture ‘drone like’ angles. The re-entry to the wall was a bit rough and I had to be careful not to smash myself up too badly. Happy with my rope protection and rebelays, I continued to launch myself out from the wall while photographing to get wicked angles.
I’ve never placed a big bro, and I’m not sure Ian had either before that day. Despite this, he toughed out a very strenuous stem position for a long time while trying to blindly place one. He asked if I thought it was ok and I hastily replied I was in no position to confirm whether it was a good placement or not. Shooting people push themselves in climbing is an intense and somewhat intimate affair. Feeling a mix of things; a responsibility for his situation and an excitement for the images I was capturing.
Undoubtedly one of my proudest images ever taken. ‘The Grand Sentinel’ is an iconic chunk of rock that almost every climber in Canada wants to climb at some point. After spending a day climbing & shooting on it, I walked out to the pass when I ran into two friends who were going to climb it that evening. Having prepared for this possibility, I ran back up to the pass, lay down in the prone position and photographed their ascent of ‘Cardiac Arete’ with a 100-400mm lens. A definite highlight of my photography journey thus far.
Jasmin Fauteux looks back down the 1500m North Face of Mt Temple right before pulling over the top of the ‘Greenwood Locke’ route. A year previous we had climbed the ‘Greenwood Jones’ together and now we were topping out on it’s counterpart classic. My only regret that day was not taking more images. The seriousness of the route forced me to take my camera out less than I normally would, but we ended up climbing it much faster than we anticipated. Finding the balance of climbing & photography in the alpine can sometimes be tricky, one of them always suffers to some extent.
Sonnie Trotter loving life on ‘Blue Jeans’ on Yamnuska. We spent a long afternoon / evening shooting almost the entire route. He was up there to project his direct alternate / finish which if taken, puts the route at 5.14. I’ve worked with a few professional athletes over the years, but watching Sonnie flow up stone on this route was mind boggling, he made 5.13 look like 5.9. Seamless, fluid movement. Always with a smile of stoke on his face.
The plan was to photograph Sonnie Trotter & Brandon Pullan on ‘The Shining’ on Mt Louis. To do so, my friend, Joy and I climbed the East Buttress of Mt Louis. It was my third time climbing Mt Louis, but never by this route. It’s definitely not recommended when compared to the other lines on the mountain but it did allow us an incredible vantage point to shoot across at Sonnie & Brandon on the incredible flake feature of ‘The Shining’.
Lake Louise, the best rock to be found in the Bow Valley. A world class crag made so by its beautiful quartzite climbing & views to boot. I was a bit obsessed with shooting a fairly new line, established by Craig Mcgee, ‘Back in the Saddle’ 11b. It’s a short route located above ‘Brave new world’. I had shot it before, but the light was brutal and the results were less than average. I went back, with the right timing and good friend Kris Irwin. The results were exactly as I imaged. It’s fun shooting classic areas but bringing a fresh look to them.
John Price is a photographer and climber who has spent the last six years traveling all over the world, while basing himself out of Canada. Over the last three years Price has been actively climbing and photographing rock, ice, and alpine ascents throughout North America, including the deserts of Nevada, the Ruth Gorge in Alaska, the remote corners of the Himalaya, rural Japan, and extensively throughout the Canadian Rockies. He is currently based in Canmore, Alberta where he works as a freelance adventure, lifestyle, and landscape photographer. He also teaches private workshops, creates editorial pieces, and shoots for commercial projects for a range of clients.
More about Squamish Exposed at the 2017 Arc’teryx Climbing Academy:
Team up with some of the world’s best and spend a day on destination climbs, capturing the essence of what it means to expose yourself to the challenges and majesty of climbing in and around Squamish.
Six teams composed of professional athlete, photographer and a lucky member of the public go head-to-head creating a slideshow that best displays the athleticism and personality of climbing in Squamish.
The Photo Showdown will take place Saturday, July 22, downtown Squamish @ O’siem Pavilion Park – 6:45pm