Sunday, July 24, 2016

Staring At The Sun: A photo essay

Seems I choose to stare at the sun a little more these days...

Living for quite some time this last year during the darker months at northern latitudes in Scandinavia has me exposing eyes and heart to the light and warmth again... and putting the new my 14mm to work.

all images ©Bennett Barthelemy/Tandem Stills + Motion

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hypoxic High: An alpine photo essay

There are parallels... The luck of finding and seizing an optimal weather day, like nabbing the Sankara Stone of Indy lore, is real gift given the fickle Rockies weather at 14,000. I had never climbed with Eric but was confident. Boulder Canyon, our first choice, was on lockdown from the Cold Springs Nederland fire so a low commitment day to see how we worked as a climbing team was not going to happen. At the base I got a text from a friend that said, "Good luck! I have been snowed off that route 3 times!"

When weather, fitness, confidence, high quality rock, good route finding (despite not bringing a topo), uber exposed climbing but relatively solid protection options and partner communication all come together it makes for a rad day. The geologic feature that the Flying Buttress ascends is standout. I have watched it in many different moments while guiding Longs Peak and it was high on the list - a precursor route to climbing the Diamond - a dream of some 20 years...

It was a real gift to get to lead every pitch of this unbelievable route first time out. I am indebted to Eric for allowing this. There is much magic in the mountains... At once humbling and rekindling inspiration.

all images ©Bennett Barthelemy July 2016

The Flying Buttress ascends the shadow and light line close to center

Solo on the "third class" approach pitches

Pitch two ascended the spire and traversed across the 5.9 face to belay at two 1/4 star drive museum piece bolts

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Real as Rainbows: A photo essay from the Southwest

There are places that see too impossible to actually exist. Like a few people I have met... They are both in yet out of time. They live on in dreams, ethereal, ephemeral as mist from waterfalls. Once visited it seems impossible that such a place could really be or have been. There is a forgetting that happens, that must happen, or the rest of life feels sallow by comparison. 

It had been over 5 years since I had been to Supai and the side arm tributary of other-worldly waterfalls that bleeds blue turquoise into the dusky Colorado River. I am working again as a guide part time and by chance I happened to be local in the Southwest for a bit. The trip spanned three days, the middle day happened to fall on my birthday this year, July 1. 

It was unseasonably cool and very electric. The monsoons had recently arrived and the myriad regional storms were popping up all over the state. The middle day was our day at basecamp and our day to explore the lower Mooney Falls and swim the desert again. 

As fate would have it, Matt my porter for the trip whom I had not met beforehand, was a shooter as well - and shot a Sony. We swapped lenses and left the clients to nap ast sunset for a photo excursion to Havasu Falls. He hoped to shoot a softer falls in fading light, a long exposure. I envisioned the magical pink light I had seen some 7 years ago on my first trip to Supai - an amazing moment when fully spent physically having covered 10 miles of trail, then cresting the edge of the travertine at sunset with Havasu Falls coming into view... 

This was a place I believed I would likely never see again, wandering through deep darkness and splinters of light in Northern Europe this last year, like a lost pilgrim connecting rocky shrines across Mediterranean Spain and then finally falling off the map in Morocco this Spring... 

Yet I made it back through a series of clearly not so impossible coincidences. 

A late evening monsoon, tightly regional, was blowing through, cottonwood leaves danced. I could see that this monsoon was up canyon and the winds swirled the distant rains to us. Thunder rolled in the distance. At that moment the sun dropped beneath the layer of clouds and illuminated the higher Coconino sandstone layer. I knew it was likely a rainbow would appear - somewhere. I guessed where it would happen and knew where I wanted to be when it did. I was ready... 

My birthday rainbow. As real as rainbows. And there will be more.

All images ©Bennett Barthelemy July 2016 (last image ©Matt Bloomfield)

Matt capturing me in an ephemeral moment...