Client Case Study: Monkey Mountaineering

Multi pitch climbing at Heptonstall Quarry with Monkey Mountaineering

March 1, 2021

A little history...

Sam Marshall is the owner and CEO of Monkey Mountaineering. He's also a really nice guy. I first met Sam at a climbing wall near Darlington while staring at the mad skills of a 10 year old climbing upside down on a roof section of the ROF59 climbing wall - for those who haven't been here, it's quite a wall. The roof section is around 25 metres off the ground and around 10-15 meters overhanging the rest of the wall. This kid was romping this climb... "I can't do that". Sam, being a confident outdoor instructor with many years experience, overheard and said, "Why not?"... we got chatting.

Anyway, scrolling on a few years Sam came to my aid when I said I wanted to take some images of climbers at Heptonstall Quarry. It just so happened that he climbed his favourite E2 there many years before, 'Thin Red Line'. It's quite a route and one he was keen for having a go at again. He brought his daughter, Megan along too, who's also a keen climber having spent much of her upbringing going with her dad when he went out.

What happened on the shoot?


We agreed to meet and did just that on a hot summer day at the end of June. I'd been hoping to get out to the crag a lot sooner in the year but as is/was the case, COVID-19 got in the way of that and a delay occurred. Still, it was a nice day, if not a little bright for ideal photography conditions. It was because of this that I opted for black and white images with harsh contrast. I had hoped to fill the shadows with off-camera flash but I didn't have an assistant with me at the time and so was restricted as to where I could put my flash heads.

The pair arrived and started to climb Fairy Steps, a HS 4b climb which takes a sweet route around a corner before an exposed couple of unprotected moves around a large step. This step features in four of the images below and is quite an imposing feature. Meg took the first pitch before handing over to 'good ol dad' to finish the crux - everyday hero! Nice one.

We then moved onto Thin Red Line and Sam gave this a go. For this I was able to light some of the shadows from the ground with my ELB-500 on full power. It needed to be as it was on the ground and around 10-15m away. I only wish I could have raised it higher.

This was a fun shoot that got some great edgy images in harsh contrasting light. Thanks Sam and Meg for their efforts and I hope you like the images.

Cheers

XE

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