Words, photos and filming: Kieran Brownie
I lean back from the small stance trying to catch a glimpse of Brette; we are still locked in the soft blue of an early morning, the cold air has settled in the valley below and somewhere between I hear the scratch of steel crampons on bare rock. The crux is subtle, a delicate move up and right where the snow is thin and the rock smooth. It is a pleasure to be sharing time in the mountains with a close friend, I am thankful for the opportunities, for the little details of a day in the hills – the air is so clear and still. I consider the ultra-light drone in my backpack, the noise is offensive and will sacrifice a critical element of our experience.
We live in remarkable times. With only a few pieces of equipment anyone can publish a story. We have total freedom to express ourselves and regardless of whether our stories are told through words or pictures, movies or songs, or even memes, they are all contributions to our collective mythology. This is what we will leave behind, these will be the building blocks for future imaginations –and for this I am willing to make sacrifices. I lean out from my stance, distancing the spinning rotors of the drone from rock and rope.
As a kid; stories provided a place to go that existed beyond school and home. I have followed that feeling ever since; stepping into a new realm, confronting the electric edge of what we know and what might lie ahead. Caution always takes precedence while climbing but the images I look for are the moments that represent that edge. When the unknown factors force us to adapt because if it works then that is good, but if not, that is good too –the same must be said about reaching the summit. I find it is too easy to question my actions on the ground, there is always something I can tinker with, but when one is on the other side of a hard day there is never any interest in returning to change minor details. The experience is as it was and that is what makes it beautiful and unique –it is in the improvisation- as there is honesty in our instincts, we cannot hide from ourselves here and in a world where truth is so hard to come by I feel it is important to share these moments, if only to leave behind a trail of bread-crumbs that will inspire future generations to seek out that electric edge and demand the truth for themselves.
Note: This shoot took place on Labour Day Peak. On January 3, 2018 Brette Harrington and Kieran Brownie completed the first winter ascent of the North West buttress and then linked it into the North-East ridge of Station D.