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HIGH ART | How climbing photographers get the shots that make us gasp

By Jonathan Thesenga

Jonathan Griffith

3 of 7

"I'd been waiting for years to shoot photos on the Innominata Ridge. It's a stunning knife edge that splits the immense south face of Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in Europe. I got this photo at sunrise as my partner, Ally Swinton, climbed along the terribly exposed ridge."
—Jonathan Griffith


British photographer and alpinist Jonathan Griffith, 28, has lived in Chamonix, France—the birthplace of European alpinism—for the past seven years. He's known for capturing images there, and in places like Denali and Patagonia, during narrow weather windows that call for climbers to carry little and move fast.

"The whole camera setup doubles my pack weight," Griffith says. "It's like carrying 84 ounces of water that you can never drink; a sleeping bag, pad, and bivy bag that you can never sleep in; and food for three days that you can never eat."

During a recent expedition to Patagonia, Griffith and his climbing partner, Will Sim, were trying to make the second ascent of a route on Cerro Piergiorgio when the forecasted window of clear weather was a scant 24 hours. As they neared the summit, the storm smashed down on them, unleashing hurricane-force winds. "I knew it was time to go," Griffith says, "but I couldn't stop shooting."

The pair made it safely down from the summit, as did Griffith's trusty camera. "To be honest, I can't imagine a camera kit getting more used and abused than mine does," he says. "But somehow it makes it back down ready for the next battering. A bit like its owner, I guess."


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