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Photo Gallery: The 2019 Photo Annual

First-look climbing images from around the globe

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From the boulders of Bishop to the sandstone of China, and from California big walls to Utah ice, we give you a first look at 21 of this year’s most amazing climbing images, from five of the top photographers in the game.

Photographer: Andy Wickstrom

Gallery: 4 Photos by Andy Wickstrom

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Andy Wickstrom

Matt Robbins on the classic Checkerboard (V8), Buttermilks, Bishop, CA.

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Andy Wickstrom

Tonde San sorting the beta on the immaculate arête of Amandala (5.13c), Index, WA.

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Andy Wickstrom

Jess Wickstrom capping the day with a hangboard session in camp, Hueco Tanks, TX.

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Andy Wickstrom

Arête love for Andy Wickstrom on A.T.D. (V7), Squamish, BC.

Home

Asheville, North Carolina

Favorite camera

Nikon Z6 with a 16-35mm f/4, 85mm f/1.4, and 24mm f/1.4

Favorite place to shoot

The Red River Gorge in November—it feels like my wife’s and my home crag, and the friends we’ve made there are a big reason. Photographing in the Red feels natural to me: I’ve shot it so much and seen so many images of it that I feel like I’m looking a lot harder and being more self-critical than in the past—that growth feels good, artistically speaking. 

Pro tip

Keep your photographic framing clean—remove distracting background elements (“yard sales”—e.g., piles of ropes, backpacks, clothing, water bottles, etc. at the cliff base) to create more impactful shots. In an effort to avoid this visual clutter, I’ll ask folks if I can move or get their help moving backpacks or other things off to the side and out of frame.

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Photographer: François Lebeau

Gallery: 4 Photos by François Lebeau

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François Lebeau

Babsi Zangerl on Desert Gold (5.13a), Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rock, Las Vegas, NV.

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François Lebeau

Jacopo Larcher enters the white circle on a free ascent of Zodiac
(VI 5.13d), El Cap.

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François Lebeau

Peter Juvan sinks the cam on the Regular Route (III 5.10-), Third Pillar of Mount Dana, CA.

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François Lebeau

Jacopo Larcher crimpin’ and clampin’ on Eurasian Eyes (5.13b), Squamish, BC.

Home

Denver, Colorado

Favorite camera

Nikon D750 with a 50mm f/1.4

Favorite place to shoot

I can’t pinpoint an exact location. I’m always happy being at the right spot at the right time—or at least planning it. I’m obsessed with light, and waiting patiently for that moment is what makes the place I’m shooting my favorite place.

Pro tip

My way of shooting changed the day I decided to find a better way to carry my extra camera gear anywhere other than on my back or harness. Find a bag that fits only the necessary equipment, with a strong clip, handle, safety strap, or something solid so you can clip any equipment you aren’t currently using somewhere on the wall, rope, or anywhere else that’s safe.

Follow François Lebeau:

Related: Interview—Photographer François Lebeau on Climbing, Art, and His New Book, Climbing Rock

Photographer: Irene Yee

Gallery: 4 Photos by Irene Yee

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Irene Yee

Dean Ronzoni on Keep Your Powder Dry (5.12b), Trophy Wall, Red Rock, NV.

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Irene Yee

Fred Campbell eyes up Speaking in Tongues (5.12b), The Cathedral, UT.

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Irene Yee

Nothing but The Goodness (5.12b/c) for Leici Hendrix, The Grail, Mesquite, NV.

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Irene Yee

Ryan Stroud on pitch three of Elephant Riders (5.12b/c), Liming, China.

Home

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite camera

Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70mm f/2.8

Favorite place to shoot

It changes every time I go somewhere new. Liming, China, has the most beautiful lichen; Vedauwoo, Wyoming, has gritty, emotional climbing; Red Rock, Nevada, has an impressive landscape; Texas Canyon, California, has amazing rock texture; Squamish, British Columbia, has amazing light—everywhere new offers something different to be excited about.

Pro tip

Never give up the ground perspective. People often dismiss it, as it’s easy to lose height and scale, and you tend to get way more of a climber’s butt than their face. But if you can achieve a dynamic editorial shot from the ground, I guarantee it will be more interesting and creative then anything from a fixed line.

Follow Irene Yee:

Photographer: Andrew Burr

Gallery: 5 Photos by Andrew Burr

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Andrew Burr

Erik Kelly sinking picks on Coats Corner (WI4), Huntington Canyon, Wasatch Plateau, UT.

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Andrew Burr

Amanda Livsay on Hueco Roof left (V4), Cumberland Boulders, TN.

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Andrew Burr

Andy Anderson on the layback corner of Singapore (5.11a), City of Rocks, ID.

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Andrew Burr

Andy Knight amidst the aspens on Big Red (V3), Sevier Plateau, UT.

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Andrew Burr

Laban Swafford steps over the void on Crosspickin’ (5.9+), North Clear Creek, Obed, TN.

Home

Salt Lake City, Utah

Favorite camera

Canon 5D Mark IV with 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, and 14mm f/2.4

Favorite place to shoot

Anywhere new, whether internationally or Stateside—I love the unknown canvas of a new area.

Pro tip

Adapt to your surroundings. While it’s somewhat important to have preconceived notions of images you’d like to create, be prepared to abandon all ideas and shoot naturally, determining the best way to document the location/person/setting within the given situation. You’ll become a pro when you can create a usable image even when everything’s going wrong.

Follow Andrew Burr:

Related: Tires and Ice—Fat-Tire Biking into Alaska’s Hinterlands to Search for Frozen Bounty, by Andrew Burr

Photographer: Levi Harrell

Gallery: 4 Photos by Levi Harrell

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Levi Harrell

Starlight navigation on The Keyhole (5.10a/b), Escalante Canyon, UT.

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Levi Harrell

Jenny Fischer on the cleaved corner of Japanese Cowboy (5.12), Liming, China.

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Levi Harrell

A midnight ascent of Tommy’s Arête (V7) for Madeline Strother, RMNP, CO.

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Levi Harrell

Jenny Fischer susses the upper section of Another World (5.12d), Liming, China.

Home

Boulder, Colorado

Favorite camera

Sony a7R II with a 16mm f/2.8 and 28mm f/2. 

Favorite place to shoot

Locally, the Flatirons, Colorado—the green lichen against the burnt-orange and brown rock adds cool contrast, plus the variety of routes means you’ll never have to shoot the same climb twice. Internationally, it’s Wye Creek, New Zealand, which holds ice climbing in winter, and in summer has one of the best backdrops of any crag I’ve been to.

Pro tip

Don’t get stuck in the rut of shooting every climb the same way. Look for unique angles and techniques when shooting a popular climb; look for a different perspective or shoot during a different time of day.

Follow Levi Harrell:

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