I decided to take a brief break from the photo-secesisonists today to look at some O’Keefe and read a bit in Galen Rowell’s Retrospective. First, I was surprised at how unimpressed I was with Galen’s work at the beginning of his career. It seems fairly documentary at a very basic level. However, as his work progresses it started to take on an almost impressionistic, dream-state, kind of feel. Second, I found a really compelling story about a trip he took with Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Rick Ridgeway. Ridgeway recounts it in an aside in the book entitled “The Difference Between Looking and Seeing.” I copy it below interspersed with a couple photos from last week.
“We stopped in front of a large print of several basaltic rocks with smooth, faceted faces. The black rocks were huge gemstones rising Stonehenge-like out of the flat hardpan. We were silent for perhaps a full minute before we began to comment on how this image, unique among the others Galen had made during our expedition, seemed somehow to capture the wild power of the northwest Chang Tang — the only remaining corner of the Tibetan plateau as yet unoccupied by human beings. We also noted how quintessentially a Galen Rowell photograph that it was recognizable as his, in the way that a painting by Picasso or Miro doesn’t need to be attributed to the artist.
“But where did he take it?” Jimmy asked. ”I was wondering the same thing,” Conrad responded. ”I don’t remember seeing those rocks, do you, Rick?” ”No, and I’ve been trying to retrace the trip in my mind,” I said. ”I can’t place them.” ”It’s not like we didn’t all walk by them,” Jimmy added. ”We were together the whole trip.”
“That’s the thing isn’t it,” I replied. ”We all walked by them.”
Conrad said, “But only Galen saw them.”
A pretty huge shot of the property that Cache Creek Outfitters operates on. We shot a meet and greet here last night. This is 123 images stitched and blended. Photo © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012
I got into the car to go the Tetons and woke up here instead. Photos © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012
Sunset over Lone Mountain. Photos © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012.
Angela Tomczik leads up Climb of the Ancient Mariner (5.10a) of Lumpy Ridge while Jess Pemble belays. Photos © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012
I recently had the privilege of leading my dad up Osiris (5.7) on The Book of Lumpy Ridge fame. It was a very good day and an important one for me. He hasn’t been on rock in nineteen years except for the day I started climbing when he took me to some short little 4th class slab and showed me how to tie in and belay. It was pretty amazing to have him following and talking about my gear placements, praising many and chuckling at others, and generally bantering about climbing for a few hours.
In the day he was a Camp 4 dirtbag climbing El Cap classics and taking our family all over the west: when we weren’t in Yosemite we had stints living in a tent in Joshua Tree, Tahquitz, and Stoney Point, with stops in Zion, Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Moab, and we based primarily out of Telluride (lifts and pre-ice park Ouray in winter, Ophir Wall in summer) and Dolores until we moved to Denver. Despite all of the climbing he did in my first ten years growing up, I hated heights and we weren’t encouraged to pick up climbing at all. It wasn’t until late in 2010 that I decided to do that and now here we are.
Anyway, it was a happy day :-)
Photos © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012
David Appelhans on a late afternoon burn in the Ouray Ice Park. Photos © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012
Kari Bangtson working a berm on a late afternoon ride in Vail. Photos © Ryan Day Thompson, 2012