3 Top Climbing Photographers Share Their Favorite Unpublished Photos

Publish date:

This story originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of our print edition.

A few of the world’s best climbing photographers share some of their favorite unpublished images, as well as what it’s like behind the scenes for these professionals and their subjects

1. Ken Etzel

Heart and Soul Oak Creek Canyon Rock Climbing

Jeff Snyder and Dean Hoffman on Heart and Soul (5.11+), Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

Thirty-seven-year-old shooter Ken Etzel says that traveling 200 days a year in pursuit of finding “the next new spot” is a huge perk of his chosen career, but it’s a life he’s used to, saying, “We lived a transient life growing up, and not much has changed!”

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Unpublished Climbing Photo Spotlight: Ken Etzel

2. Jeremiah Watt

Divine Intervention Zion National Park Ice Climbing

Scott Adamson and Matt Tuttle high on Divine Intervention (WI6), Zion National Park, Utah

A marketing internship with an international adventure travel company led this Salt Lake City–based photographer to his current career path. “I lived and worked with guides who were psyched, all making a decent living, and doing the very things daily I wanted for myself,” he says. “I returned to school in South Dakota, dropped all my classes, and signed up for a black and white photography course.” 

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Unpublished Climbing Photo Spotlight: Jeremiah Watt

3. Christian Pondella

Oz Tuolumne Meadows Lonnie Kauk Rock Climbing Free Solo

Lonnie Kauk solos the breathtaking dihedral pitch of the Tuolumne Meadows mega-classic, Oz (5.10d)

“Being passionate about your subject is the most important thing with photography,” 44-year-old shooter Christian Pondella says. “I love to ski and climb, and that’s what my friends and I were doing every day…eventually it evolved into a career.” 

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Unpublished Climbing Photo Spotlight: Christian Pondella