Climbers Picture of the Week

This week’s featured image was shot in Boynton Canyon on Sedona’s west side, north of State Route 89A. It’s the site of The Enchantment Resort—a very high-end destination requiring deep pockets to stay there. There are several trails in the canyon that meander among the cliffs and buttes, and that’s exactly what I was searching for. In the parking lot, the map said that I had a choice of three routes: one that went to a dead-end up the canyon, a second longer trail over Dead Man’s Pass, and finally a short hike to a canyon overlook. I’m all for short and I’m adverse to dead men, so I set off for the overlook.

The trail is fishhook-shaped as it skirts the south side of an outcrop then turns 180° and ascends into a saddle, wedged between the outcrop and a larger butte. It’s only a quarter-mile long, but the rise got tricky in a couple of sections. It’s good that it was well-marked with white paint splotches. The climb doesn’t seem much until you reach the saddle and turn around and see the valley floor a couple hundred feet below. To the west is a great view of the resort nestled among the red-rock cliffs.

As I clambered up the hill, I stopped a couple of times to rest and clear the heart beating in my ears. When I could hear again, there were voices, but I couldn’t see anyone on the trail above or behind me. It wasn’t until I reached the saddle that I saw a pair of climbers—a woman and a man tethered together with a rope—as they were nearing the butte’s summit. I assumed that she was leading as she was higher and coaching his assent.  “Cool,” I thought.

Once I reached the saddle, I set up my tripod and camera and began shooting all the compass points, and savored the water I remembered to bring. After I completed my long-shots, I started a series of close-ups with the camera hand-held. I could tell from their voices that my climbers had reached the top and were taking in the view.

Climbers-A pair of rock-climbers celebrates success atop a Sedona Butte.

I thought about photographing them while they were enjoying their success, so I yelled up to them, “Hey! Can I get a shot?”

They were so polite. They hunkered down out of sight. “No,” I shouted again, “I want to shoot you on top.” When they stood up, I pantomimed celebration by raising my hands in the air. They followed my instructions and even began whooping. I fired off a couple of frames and shouted “Thanks” to them and then began to make my way back down to the truck.

I like the way the shot Climbers turned out even though they don’t take up a lot of frame space. As an Alaska guide once instructed us, “Humans are easy to spot. They’re the only thing standing erect.” In the image, I wanted to show their difficult conquest so I didn’t bother with a long lens. I also like the way the red sandstone contrasts against the dark blue sky and streaky cloud so I included more of it in the composition.

You can see a larger version of Climbers on its Web Page by clicking here. I hope you enjoy viewing this week’s post and come back next week when we’ll show another featured image from Sedona.

Until next time — jw