Behind the Images

The towering spires of the Bugaboos National Park make for an imposing backdrop to any climbing expedition. Uisdean Hawthorn takes us behind the images of a recent trip with Ethan Berman to explore new route possibilities and sample some classic lines.


It had been raining most of the day, but during a brief break in the showers Ethan and I went for a walk to look around. Fifteen mins from camp we looked to the west and saw another wall of rain heading our way so we quickly turned around and raced the incoming rain back to camp. We were caught about two minutes from camp and stopped to put our jackets on. I knew it was going to make an atmospheric photo and had to choose between putting my jacket on or taking the photo. I ended up getting wet but at least the photograph turned out well, the wind creating movement in the jacket is key.

Solitary Confinement is a five-pitch crack. It starts with a fingertip crack until eventually the same crack widens pitch by pitch to the top. The crux is an extremely awkward vertical off-width. A good facial expression often makes an image, and this is the case here. Another funny fact about this image is I hauled the pack all the way to the belay just to get my camera out of it to then lower the pack back down so it would be in the frame. It adds something extra to the shot, but mainly I like capturing a good feature of a product; In this case ragging a lightweight pack over multiple pitches of extremely rough granite without it exploding.

Ethan on a new route, we called the Feathered Friends. We weren’t quite sure where to go on this pitch and the most unlikely option ended up being the way. Onsighting new routes doesn’t happen often but when it does it's pretty special. I like this shot, it's sharp where it needs to be, the ropes and the cracks make lots of subtle lines all leading to Ethan.

The essentials of camping: coffee and 2kg of Peanut Butter. It’s difficult to get good camping shots without them looking to staged. Anyone who has been camping can relate to the gritty feel captured here. Dirty face, scared hands, worn clothes and eating out of a jar, all the realities of living outside for a week.

The North, Central and South Howser Towers, three inspiring granite spires. The classic Beckey-Chouinard climbs the sun lit arete on the south (rightmost) tower, and the harder classic of All Along The Watchtower climbs the open book corner on the North (leftmost) tower. The 300m corner is the iconic feature of All Along The Watchtower, it is just highlighted by the very last rays of sunshine. I love how the sun gives definition to the feature the route is famous for. It was a cold evening when I took this, and the drone battery started draining fast and I really wasn’t sure if I was going to get it back, thankfully it made it.

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