The Last Dark Horse

Nayda Vorotnikov competing in this season’s last Dark Horse Bouldering series. February 4, 2012.

 Alex Johnson rocking some killer argyle socks at the Dark Horse Bouldering Series. February 4, 2012.

Why I climb.

Cannon Cliff from Boise Rock. Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire. Morning of January 30, 2012. Panoramic composite of 13 images.

Climbing terrain like Cannon is inspiring to me because nature provides a chaotic array of features that beg for interpretation. Like a writer who strings letters together into something cohesive and beautiful, I think a section of cliff is like an alphabet waiting to be arranged into words, sentences, paragraphs. I suppose this analogy could be carried all sorts of ways, but I think I will leave it here for now.


Climbing Tackle

Look close at these beer cans and you’ll see the corners are polished and some of the labeling has rubbed off from rolling around on pitons and carabiners since, likely, the summer of 2009. What I’m trying to say is that I can be very bad about cleaning out my car. Here’s to a little bit of pre-spring cleaning.

AUSTIN SIADAK: The Dirtbagrapher

When I hang out with Austin Siadak I sometimes wonder if this is what Walter Sobchak would be like if he moved into a minivan and rock climbed instead of going to Vietnam.  Eitherway, ‘Dak did move into a van and began documenting the climbing life. I caught up with him sometime after he pitched his Nikon D700 off a cliff (the sensor was fine, but the mic got worked) and asked him some questions about the nascent life of a Professional Dirtbagrapher.

 Austin Siadak “sleeping it off” en route to a day of sport climbing.

How do you take your coffee? Dark as night and twice before I can get anything done for the day.

If you could put $5,000 into your vehicle, where would it go? My current vehicle/home is a rickety, dent, and scratched minivan with 203,000 miles. I bought it for $500, so I suppose I could have a fleet of ten minivans. 


Homebase in 7 years is going to be where?  Oh man, I have NO idea.  And I love that.  Hopefully something in Seattle, San Francisco, Boulder, Salt Lake, Jackson.  Anywhere close to stellar climbing and hiking, good friends, and a major airport.  
Does your degree keep you warm? I studied International Relations at Tufts University, and at one point was dead set on working for the State Department. For this stuff, I use the analytical and reasoning skills that I developed.  Most of what I know about video is from sitting down with a pen and paper and watching videos ten or fifteen times in a row, jotting down what works and what doesn’t. 

So you’re self taught. What are some of the challenges that you could have never expected from dSLR video? Shooting in low-light.  You can’t just drop your shutter speed in the same way you can when shooting stills. I found it difficult to get quality footage of a campfire, unless the fire is really bright.  It can be frustrating because you see something so well with your eyes yet have immense trouble showing it through the lens.
Why do people care enough to watch climbing? I think inspiration has a lot to do with it.  Perhaps more than anything else.  Climbers who embrace the lifestyle want to be inspired and see inspiring stories.  Videos give us the drive to go out and accomplish more in our own lives than we thought possible.

Do climbers document themselves more than others? Climbers proliferate a huge quantity of media.  This probably has a lot to do with bouldering and sport climbing where there are essentially a lot of people standing around with nothing better to do than take videos and photos. But that’s just the quantity side.  Quality is another matter.  Guys like Corey Rich, Keith Ladzinski, Jimmy Chin are capturing awesome, inspiring images.  But most climbing videos are the same 2-5 minute “man-climbs-hard-route” type of thing. It’s getting old. 

Chuck, fuck, and marry: Condoleezza Rice, Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright? Chuck Condi, fuck Clinton, and marry Albright.  Little known fact: Rice studied under Albright’s father at the University of Denver. Did I mention I used to be an International Relations nerd?

.:HBs:. Thanks for reading

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