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It’s quieter than you think out there, except for the fragile tinkling of ice, and maybe a soft whisper of wind. It’s still and very cold. Every time Matt Lloyd swings his pick into the frozen wall, it echoes through the amphitheater of rock and ice surrounding us. It’s one of the reasons I’m out there, documenting adventure, year after year after year. I believe that you have to love these kinds of environment, in order to feel at home enough to tell a good story within them.
A few days earlier, an ice climber named Matt Lloyd gave us a call and said he heard from the locals that the ice up in Vail, Colorado is “fat,” and he wanted to climb an ice route called “The Rigid Designator.” “Fat” is a term climbers use when columns of ice are in season, and seem safe enough to climb.
Keith Ladzinski, my partner at 3 Strings Productions and a fellow photographer, and I are always down for some fun. So we dressed warmly, packed all of the gear we needed to fix the route, and headed up into the mountains to shoot it.
My idea was to hang a rope from the top of the ice column, climb up there, and get the top-down perspective. I knew I wanted Matt to dominate the top left of my frame; however, my left brain was also telling me I wanted the bottom of the ice column in the frame as well. Once I got up there, I knew I wanted the landscape scene out to the left as well. Hmmm… Sometimes you've got to have it all, and if you can get comfortable using a fisheye lens to shoot wide action landscapes, you often can have your cake and eat it, too. Pay attention to your corners though, and avoid having your subject get sucked into the fisheye "warping vortex."
The important thing to remember is that when an adventure knocks on your door, go out, no matter how cold it is. Access is everything right? You’ll probably love how quiet it is out there.
Model: Nikon D90
Lens: Nikon DX 10.5mm
Shutter: 1/200 sec
About Andy Mann: After spending many years on the road as Senior Photographer at Climbing magazine, Andy Mann co-founded 3 Strings Productions in 2010, and is Director at an adventure-based media house based in Boulder, Colorado. Partnered with National Geographic Creative in 2013, Mann and his team covered several assignments for the magazine, as well as shooting and directing international commercial film campaigns for major outdoor-product manufacturers. Mann designed a signature series of outdoor camera packs for Mountainsmith, based on many years of experience in the field, which are available here at B&H.