Don’t Judge Me, It Was My First Time: Superior’s Sexy South Side

Written by on July 29th, 2013 // Filed under Blog

You can tell that it’s late when I can’t even come up with a catchy headline for my blog post without using the word “sex.” Oh well, teh interwebz and its lurkers will love that one.

Monday was Timp (blog post coming soon, because it was awesome), followed by Monday night (which was sleepless), followed by Tuesday at work (which was boring), followed by Tuesday at 1:46 PM:

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 10.07.47 PM

I’ve known Brody Leven digitally for a while, but we’d never met in person until last summer at the Outdoor Retailer Show. Sometimes having dozens of mutual friends just isn’t enough to connect the social dots and spend time with someone, even when your batteries all get charged by the same recreation.

We’ve been trying to connect for quite some time, but his rowdy  professional ski–mountaineering schedule and my humble trying–to–be–a–professional–photographer–but–still–have–to–hold–down–a–normal–job schedule don’t often align, so I was pretty stoked that Andy and I had already started talking about a photo project that piqued Brody’s interest.

So this was it: someone (aka Brody) was going to run up the south ridge route of Mount Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon while someone else (aka Andy) shot photos from across the drainage on Cardiff. I wasn’t really sure where I fit into Andy’s plan, so I just inserted myself and said I’d climb/run/walk/jog the ridge with Brody and we’d all reconnect on the summit for the journey down to the car.

Brody Climbing the South Ridge of Mount Superior
There are the occasional 5th class moves that make Superior’s South Ridge a super fun adventure if you have a couple hours to spare.

First times are pretty rad, as a rule––particularly first times in an alpine environment. The South Ridge of Superior isn’t a world class rock climb by any stretch of the imagination, but if you stay on the ridge proper there are a few moves of technical climbing thrown in with long stretches of class 3 and 4 scrambling. This was my first time on the South Ridge, and it was really fun to do it with someone like Brody who is not only an incredibly proficient athlete, but also had climbed the route so many times that he knew all the best climbing sections, and could warn me if he felt like it was about to get spicy.

The Process
This is me getting shots that will likely never be seen. It’s all part of the process of getting a great photo.

First times are also a real challenge because no matter how much time you spend researching the beta online or in guidebooks or via friends, you can never know where the good camera angles are, or exactly what the lighting will be. This is hard because it forces you to be more creative than you otherwise would be required to be, but it’s a wonderful blessing in disguise because you get the chance to avoid complacency in shooting (which rears its head more often than you’d think); complacency isn’t even an option.

4th Class Moves Abound
Brody pulls a little 4th class step as we move along the ridge in the evening sun. Such a fun route.

The Mountain Project entry claims that this route is 5.4, although the community consensus says 5.1. I’d highly recommend this route to anyone who is trying to get more comfortable with exposure via easy 5th class moves. The bulk of the route is class 3 and 4, so the climbing is incredibly straightforward, and most of the rock is pretty stable, with the occasional loose block from time to time. We took our time waiting for light and repeating sections for photos, and we did it in 2:45. I think this could easily be done right around an hour by a person who was interested in a great workout.

Parker On The Ridge
Andy Earl nabbed this shot of me running across the bottom of the ridge. Pretty psyched on how this one turned out.
Brody On The South Ridge
Tim Kemple says that when you’re doing adventure photography, you should effectively use background, midground, and foreground to tell your story, and that you should paint your subject with light. I’m hoping this is what he was talking about.
Summit Sunset
I couldn’t help but drink in the western sky once we reached the summit. It was too beautiful.
Summit Selfie
Summit selfies are mandatory.

As the sun started to go down, we descended the east ridge, reconnected with Andy, and headed to the Pole Line trail and back to the car. I frequently spend time in the mountains, but usually alone. It was a nice change to be jogging down the trail in the twilight with some good friends knowing that we were able to get some dynamic shots. I’m looking forward to the next adventure.

Brody Overlooking Mill D North
In some ways, summertime sunsets are a dime a dozen; they’re never in short supply. On the other hand, each brings it’s own flare to the table, and it doesn’t take much effort to appreciate the uniqueness that each twilight period has to offer.
Here Brody takes in the last few moments of color before our descent was swallowed up by shadow.


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