As Hard As you Can..

First of all I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read  my first post. The feedback was great, and the main thing I realized from writing that one was that I am far from alone when it comes to concerns about the climbing industry and the future of our resources. While we may not have the same ideas, it is nice to see that this is becoming a more important topic of discussion within the community. The next 10 years are going to be very interesting. I hope that the leaders of our industry choose to take it in a good direction; I know a lot of us will be watching.

To give credit where it is due, there have been some cool stuff out there lately.  To note a couple of nice concepts,  LT11 and the Access Fund  did a great job with the gorilla campaign (see it here). It was funny and to the point.

I want to thank Stephen Dison at Three Ball Climbing for giving me the opportunity me contribute with  a series of ads for Dead Point Mag and several guidebooks. I believe that in advertisement there is a huge opportunity to send a good message while at the same time enhancing the image of a Business.  It was super fun making them. Sorry Tony Reinaldo for exploiting your sexiness as the dude taking the dump in the Huecos of Hueco. :)


Ads can be used both ways. Educational while at the same time being very positive for a company’s image.


The video of  Haroun Souirji in the Rocklands (see it here) was a great example of how to showcase our sport in an elegant and balanced way. This video made the beauty of our discipline evident to the viewer, and it also touched on some of the core reasons why we travel the world playing on rocks.


Vivid Lanscapes by Haroun Souirji

Vivid Lanscapes by Haroun Souirji


On a personal note I would love to thank  R.Tyler Gross for the great video/slideshow he posted at the end of last year (see it here). Indeed, “Not all who wonder are lost”. His photography is natural and inspiring; in my opinion, he paints with the camera. Pretty awesome stuff broda.

In this next post a want to share the lessons I learned on a trip I went to in September of last year. It was my first time going on a trip with the specific purpose of taking photos. To say the least, it was more challenging than I expected.

As Hard as You Can“…..

In September I got a call from Jason Kehl and Dead Point Magazine about a trip to Lake Tahoe in California. Jason invited me to come up to Tahoe to take some photos and to develop boulders. The idea was to spend a couple of weeks climbing with the local crews and exploring the old and new potential of  Lake Tahoe Bouldering. We were going  to document the trip for DPM, so for me it was a great opportunity to shoot my first feature article. Sadly, the article never happened, but the good news is that the trip did, and I came back with some photos, a lot more experience and some priceless memories.


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Bliss is a beautiful area. Imagine the best rock at The Buttermilks, add some tints of  orange , some chunky pines and a  great view of the Lake.  Although the area is small, you can definitely spend a couple days having tons of fun.


In the past year my motivation for photography had gone down a little bit and the camera had several months sitting in a corner. When I got this invite I was very happy and something novel like this got me exited about photos again. What I hadn’t realize is that photography is kind of a flow; it needs to be a constant practice, especially if you intend to put more meaning and enhanced purpose to taking photographs.  To be fair, I was rusty, and the combination of that with a lack of  “on assignment” experience put me in a position were I  struggle to build momentum; the days started passing and the “Tahoe pics” folder remained empty.


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Kyle O on the FA of “Kona The Barbarian”. Kona held a flash from the left so she was out of frame, cool enough Loki stayed. If you wanna go get your scare on, this puppy is at Cold Stream. The wall is on the second tear way at the back.


For me the process of taking a picture has always been natural and accidental. My plan everyday goes as far as bringing the camera; the rest, like señor Kehl says, “you will know when you see it”. In this trip I discovered that if you are shooting photos with a specific purpose, it takes a little more planning than “just do it”. It also became apparent that photos are hard to force, that evenly lit overcast skies are a special occurrence and that lack of practice and unreliable equipment are not a good combination if your goal is to take several well balanced, “Five Element” Images.


That tree on the right was incredible, so I told my friend Dave Suizo to snap a pic of me on that frame.  Castle Peaks is stunning and has great potential. An off road vehicle is recommended to reach the upper parking lot.

That tree on the right was incredible, so I told my friend Dave Suizo to snap a pic of me on that frame. Castle Peaks is stunning and has great potential. An off road vehicle is recommended to reach the upper parking lot.


Since I wanted to come back with some great shots I had some expectations, so another visitor was Pressure. Pressure has always been a positive factor in anything I do; it enhances my focus, but for some reason I never expected it to play a part in the process of photography. The reality is that I wasn’t able to use pressure as an ally, instead, it clouded my performance and I became overcritical of my work. Inevitably, I ended up boycotting my own process and never found flow. It seems that Photography, like many things in life are better approached with no pressure, musicians call it a “Jam Session”, and I think it means letting go and trusting that if you are performing from the heart with fun as the main element of creation, your personal talents will engage on their own. Looking back I was freaking out for most of the time, unless we were having dinner or sitting at home watching TV.


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El Hombre, El Mito, La Leyenda.
Dave Hatchet does a lap on his Castle Peaks addition “Endless Summer”. The rock here is way gourmet.


Well, the bottom line is that I am not  happy with how I approached the project and the results were not the best. These are not my best shots,  but for the most part I still like the photos. For me, being at peace with my work  doesn’t happen too much so learning to appreciate the results I had by the end of trip was a great leap in itself.  I realize now that the interference for creation was there by expectation, and to fulfill my expectations I should have let it flow like dream, not a forced reality. The Reality was that I tried too hard. Since we are kids we hear about the importance of trying “As hard as you can”, but not everyone gets told that trying hard is the second step, the first step is to pick a good direction. That’s my lesson from this trip, I hope next time I can find a way to “Jam” a little more. :)


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Jason on the FA of “The Chopping Block”. A  soft  arete on bullet rock that hardly needed any cleaning. This was a 4 star line in a beautiful setting.


The trip itself was amazing, I got to hang out with one of the most interesting climbers of our generation; Jason Robert is an actual modern day Ninja and I’m glad to call him my friend.  He and Martina Mali were awesome and they did everything they could for me to have tons of fun and come back with many photos. I was able to climb with another person I very much look up to, Señor Moses Potter.  Jon Thompson made us an incredible dinner that was as much a vision quest as it was a gourmet supper, it was a volcano of fun.

Señor Dave Hatchett played heavy rock, toured us around, and showed us many cool places and rock climbs. Dave came out with a series of “Lake Tahoe Bouldering” guidebooks this year. There are a lot of newly developed areas with great potential, and the established routes are very good too. For information about the guidebooks and Tahoe Bouldering,  visit here.


Happy Times At Dave's

At “Fortress” rehearsing studio / Dave’s House of Weird filming a documentary about The Barbiepocalypse. The film is set to come out at some point in 2027. sadly it will be shown on another planet.


I would love to give special thanks to my friend Jason Burd who was an amazing host; he opened his home to us and made our stay comfortable and relaxed. If your up there in Tahoe check out his climbing and fitness gym High Altitude Fitness, the place is awesome.


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Always sexy, always ready. Jon Thompson flexing. Seconds later from this snap he took a nasty fall from the top out, hence the name of the climb, “Splat”. About a 7 banger.


In short, the people I met were extremely motivated, diverse, and talented, but more importantly they were great people. The town is surrounded by many areas with all colors and shapes of granite. Tahoe is a beautiful place and the climbing is the same way.


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J and Martina lake-gazing on a beautiful night at the house of Burd. The next day I flew to CO and the trip was over. Life is full of special moments, I will always remember this trip and smile.

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