Mad Rock at Primo Wall

Being a climbing photographer is hard, but it’s even harder when you break your back. In March I received a compression fracture from a climbing fall, and for a month and half I wore a back brace. But I still continued to get out with climbers.

Mad Rock asked me to get out with two of their athletes in, Zach Lerner and Megan Mascarenas, to the Primo Wall in April. To do so I had to cross a tyrolean traverse, a means of getting across the river using ropes attached to both sides. You pull yourself onto the ropes, connect a long quickdraw that connects your harness to the ropes, and pull yourself across the river. Without a broken back it can be tiring.

We start out shooting in Nomad’s Cave. Easy enough. The cave opens up inside allowing me to position a reflector and shoot a flash into the reflector, lighting the scene. Meghan, Tiffany Hensley, and Zach work on the one of the boulder problem that exits the cave.

Then we move over to Shine, a 5.14a sport route that Zach and Meghan work on. Zach puts up a fixed line for me to jug up. Hanging from a rope, even sitting on my bosun’s chair, with my back brace is very difficult. Leaning out to get the shots really engages your core, which causes your back muscles to tighten. Unhappy broken back… A well, to get the shot, right?

But in the end, I survived. Now, well over six months after my fall I am 100%. I’m climbing full strength and rarely feel any impact from my fall, other than an increased attention to detail.