‘Alex was on vacation in greek – however even ~ above vacation, the still climbs. Fortunately, unlike in the film cost-free Solo, he’s on a rope here’


When you climbing, things can go from funny to significant pretty quick. The worst loss I ever had taken place while I remained in Aspen, Colorado, in 2002. I damaged my neck, mine pelvic bone and four ribs. I collapsed my appropriate lung, too, and had kidney and liver damage. Ns didn’t think about anything as I fell. Ns was simply waiting for my tools to catch me, yet it didn’t. It all came away from the wall and ns hit the floor 11 metres below. I don’t mental the influence so there to be no trauma linked with that. I simply remember waking up pretty disorientated, with around eight top looking under at me. “Oh mine God, you simply fell,” i thought.

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It shook me up and I swore i was finished v climbing. But I was 22 and my photography career to be just beginning to be a thing. So 3 months later, when a newspaper asked me to go on a rock shoot, i agreed and also I’ve to be climbing ever since. I’ve had actually close friend who passed away base-jumping, ice-climber friend who died on big mountains, and also one friend who died “free-soloing”. It is climbing there is no a rope. It’s among the most dangerous things you can do since there’s no room for any kind of error in ~ all.

I took this on a little Greek island referred to as Kalymnos in 2011. The climber is Alex Honnold, one old friend of mine. He’s the star of totally free Solo, the documentary around his climb of El Capitan the won one Oscar critical year. El cap is a 3,000ft sheer rock confront in Yosemite, California, and he climbed it there is no a rope. Although Alex is recognized in the general public eye as a cost-free solo-ist, many climbing the does takes location on a rope. He commonly won’t cost-free solo a challenging route until it’s been extensively rehearsed when attached come one. So it is what provides this shot fun – and also of course, below he’s clipped in.

Alex was on vacation but even on holidays he tho climbs. It to be an in-flight magazine that sent me along to shooting him. Kalymnos is a popular destination for rock-climbers, because of the beautiful weather, the glistening backdrop of the Aegean Sea, and climbs prefer this one, which is referred to as the Grande Grotta.


Sheer thrills … Alex Honnold climb El Capitan without a rope, in the film complimentary Solo. Photograph: Jimmy Chin/National Geographic/Jimmy ChinWe’re both about 30m up, me on an surrounding route. It’s a tiny tricky taking shots the way, functioning out that a bag when dangling from a rope that’s attached come the cliff via anchors. I prefer this shot because, compositionally, it’s an extremely clean. Alex is fallout’s right right into the an adverse space. The irradiate is nice, the Aegean looks impressive and, given the way his legs and also arms are, he seems frozen in time. Whatever in the shot reads well. Alex no slam down right into the wall, though. That component of the climb is so overhung, he just dropped down right into air. If the hadn’t had actually a rope, if he’d been free-soloing, well, that would certainly be a different conversation.

Falling is pretty standard at the peak level when you’re advertise yourself. There’s possibly an 80-90% failure rate. You need to rehearse your moves. You discover a difficult climb in sections: if you don’t have actually your host right here, if friend don’t placed your foot effectively there, if you nothing bend your knee at this bit, then her body’s no going to have sufficient tension and also you’re going to autumn off. Therefore you require a great understanding of your body and terrific memory for moves.

I’ve done a the majority of crazy things on mountains. I’ve lugged huge strobes increase peaks simply to irradiate a shot. In 2012, on my very first assignment for national Geographic, a plane dropped united state at Queen Maud Land, 200 miles inside Antarctica. We spent 54 days life on the ice cream cap, self-supporting, slowly climbing this 2,200ft pinnacle. It deserve to take days just to gain into the right place for together a shot, to fully capture how wild and also beautiful a ar is. It was a really hard trip but it opened up up a whole new world that work.

A lot of has readjusted since acquisition that loss in Aspen. I’m married now and also recently had a baby. It’s make me consider risk in a whole new way.

Keith Ladzinski’s CV


Photograph: Eduardo Minte HessBorn: New York, 1976.

Training: Self-taught, some books and also “shooting a lot of poor pictures”.

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Influences: Atiba Jefferson, Steve McCurry, Paul Nicklen, Dave Black, Frans Lanting and David Guttenfelder.

High point: “A 54-day trip into Queen Maud land in Antarctica in 2012.”

Low point: “Losing a difficult drive containing a rock-climbing shoot in Spain. An extremely angry editor.”