For this week's "story behind the image" I thought I'd talk a little about this shot of Zippy climbing Traverse of the Gods, a VS at Swanage. There's a lot of talk about needing perfect light for the best shots, I don't agree. Great light of course can lead to some really beautiful images but there's alot more to life and especially the climbing life than just beauty. On this day the sky was dull and flat, even more the rock was completely soaked. Usually there'd be no climbing and no photos on a day like this but I'd had a vision of an image I wanted.
It's a bit embarrassing to admit but I sometimes dream of particular pictures I hope I might have a chance to photograph. I've always loved that feeling on seacliffs when the water becomes a real presence. Those big sea days when you're racing the tide and the waves are leaping around like wild animals. In most of the seacliff climbing shots I've taken the sea has remained tame; a mere pretty backdrop.
Luckily for me (unluckily for Zips) on this day the sea had been unleashed and the waves were crashing occasionally over the tops of the cliff. I managed to persuade Zips to give the first pitch a try, got the camera ready and waited for the big breaker. Of course I got as soaked as Zips but when you get one of those images you've been dreaming of its all worth it.
The thing I like best about this shot is that nature is most definately the boss. One of the most cringe-worthy attitudes in climbing is the idea of "conquering the mountain" or in more contemporary parlence "crushing the route"! In reality when a climber's at the top of their game they achieve a balance with nature. Nature however can easily bite back as Zippy found out.