Beat: The World of Climbing

The sport of sport climbing began at Smith Rock State Park, Oregon. (Tommy Pittenger)

The sport of sport climbing began at Smith Rock State Park, Oregon. (Tommy Pittenger)

Ever since I could walk I have been climbing things. I grew up with my parents telling me stories of finding my fast asleep on the highest level of the bookshelf, atop the family van in the garage and on the seemingly unclimbable refrigerator. Whether a mode of exploration or escape, it makes sense that I hold a passion for climbing till this day.

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Tony Chan leads a climb at Smith Rock State Park. (Tommy Pittenger)

I am drawn not only to the physical act but the aesthetics of it all. Climbing involves traveling to very unique locations, with each outdoor location acting as a geology lesson on what story the rocks they have to tell. Smith Rock‘s story is different than Joshua Tree’s, as is the climbing mecca, Half Dome of Yosemite.

One man who captures the climbing community in a very holistic manner is Jimmy Chin. He has photographed nearly all of the current big-time climbers and his work is humbling. He takes great photos, videos and is doing the same climb as these professionals with the additional weight of camera gear. He works freelance, but is also a big contributor for Camp 4 Collective and Sherpas Cinema.

Corey Rich is another photographer and videographer in the climbing community who got his start as a photojournalist in Arizona. He shot for his high school newspaper, his college daily and pursed climbing photography after ending an internship at the Modesto Bee. He saved $3000 from his internship, bought 100 rolls of film and drove around the Western United States shooting rock climbing. He then sent his 40 best lifestyle photos to Patagonia and his 40 best climbing photos to Climbing Magazine. Many of those were in fact published, helping to kick start his career as a photojournalist.

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