2013 was pretty wild; I completed some big climbing projects, but I also lost a lot of friends to the mountains and was thrown in to the deep end when Everest kicked off. Luckily though I’ve been surrounded by some great people in the last 6 months and looking back over the last 365 days I’m lucky to have climbed, lived, and laughed so much. So here is a round up of my year through my camera lens…
A few days after New Years my climbing year kicked off with an attempt of Metanoia on the North Face of the Eiger. I think the Harlin and Metanoia vie for the spot of hardest route on this face so whilst it was disappointing to have to retreat it wasn’t a huge surprise; but it was a good chance to catch up with someone I would spend a lot of the coming year with- Ueli Steck.
A few days after Metanoia I headed off on a quick simul solo up the Couturier Couloir on the Aiguille Verte to stretch my legs. Ben Briggs joined me and skied down the thing- steep skiing is really quite terrifying and I was glad just to down climb. But the Verte brought back an old link up of mine that would come together a couple of months later
Conditions in the high mountain weren’t great and so I found myself climbing a lot in an area I’d never visited before- the Requin in the Envers. The snow was bountiful during January and February making the climbing somewhat Scottish at times.
An Adidas Outdoor photoshoot took me back on to the Supercouloir Direct on Mont Blanc du Tacul in -25 degree temperatures and heavy spindrift. A tough shoot for all but the shots were awesome.
I started focusing quite a bit on ice-climbing having not done a huge amount and culminated in doing Dame du Lac followed by Shiva Lingham the next day (and Dame du Lac again the following day!). Shiva is without a doubt the hardest ice lead I’ve done but I was psyched to get a timer release shot of me on it at the top.
On the 3rd March I set off to solo the North Face of the Verte, NE Face of the Droites, and N Face of the Courtes in a day. I was a little nervous to say the least and the Droites was tenuous and buried in sugar snow but it was just one of those days that felt good and in the end it all went to plan.
My fitness training had been good and I felt strong enough and confident to head off to Everest with Ueli Steck and Simone Moro to film and photograph what would have been a cutting edge Himalayan ascent. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, but I learned alot about altitude, people, and the media; and that will all prove a very important life lesson.
Coming back from Everest was very tough because of the hounding we received from around the world. We were made to look like villains and I was broke having invested alot in the trip. Such is life. I ended up soloing the Monch N Face from Grindewald town with Ueli late one night after a few days of interviews for Sender Films just to get out and do something. Leaving at midnight we had a really important climb for the both of us allowing us climb side by side and talk things over about what had happened on Everest and the Media aftermath.
I did a really fun and cool Petzl shoot with Jeff Mercier and Ally Swinton that took us over on a huge traverse of the Chardonnet, Argentiere, and Tour Noir. This is the kind of shoot I love- I get to ‘solo’ around the two athletes and the shots are genuine and real. I also got to see the three north faces that I’d linked up in March in their entirety and I think it finally sunk in how big a day that was.
I had to remain fit for another expedition so I managed to solo a big traverse of the Mont Blanc massif starting in Les Contamines and ending up at the Aiguille du Midi. It was something I’d tried twice before but always been thwarted by the weather. Arriving at the Midi I felt strong and ran up the arete- 5000m of ascent and 42km or horizontal. I felt ready for Pakistan.
In August left for my second trip to the Charakusa Valley in Pakistan with Andy Houseman. The Nanga Parbat massacre a month earlier had been a major concern but we felt far enough away that it was safe. Unfortunately we didn’t get to climb our main objective as Andy was ill but third time’s a charm as they say….next year insha’Allah!
Coming back from Pakistan with two failed expeditions in the same year it was starting to feel like a bad one. The weather was pretty poor in Chamonix but we managed to do a really great shoot for Berghaus in winter temps on the Diables Arete where everyone worked their asses off- the shots are some of the best I’ve ever taken…so that’s always nice.
A shoot with Millet on Beyond Good and Evil allowed me to climb it the day before to see the shots I wanted and check out conditions. Some really great climbing and I was psyched that we managed to free it. It’s super thin compared to the previous year to add to the fun of it.
Melissa Arnot (of Everest heroine fame) came to visit and we shot a climb for her sponsor First Ascent. The conditions weren’t great but we managed a fun little route called Chippendale on the Petit Capucin nevertheless….where there’s a will there’s a way.
Straight after the First Ascent shoot I headed up to climb the Grandes Charmoz North Face from town with Ally Swinton. The climb was super fast and easy but the round trip from town in deep snow made for a really long and fun day out.
The weather this autumn and winter has not been conducive to anything high mountain, so I’ve set my sights on the ice again doing numerous laps on Nuit Blanche and other ice climbs in the area. I thought I was going to die on this pitch when the whole pillar fractured and started cracking around me for 20 seconds, the scariest moment of my climbing life so far.
2014…..with two Greater Ranges trips already scheduled am feeling good about this one!