UKC and UKH are proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Marmot Photography Awards.
An automatic selection of five photos from each of the categories on site was made based on the votes from the previous 12 months. Users were then asked to vote for the overall winners of each category from this selection. In addition to the category awards, we also have three overall winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd), which were selected by professional photographer Tim Glasby.
Tim has worked closely with Marmot for many years, with images of all their key athletes to his name - Steve McClure, Lucy Creamer, Neil Mawson, Jack Geldard, and Leah Crane - just to name a few. Alongside his choices he will be including a paragraph on why he has made each selection, just to provide a bit of background on his thinking.
You can view Tim's work here.
Winner of the Bouldering Category: Undercooke (f7a/V6), Apiary Wall Area, St Bees - Matt Greenwell
The image was a result of wanting to obtain footage and promotional material for a climbing project called Project Cote d'Ivoire, an expedition to Africa to establish new trad and bouldering routes which we embarked on in January this year (projectci.co.uk). On a training weekend in St Bees, we decided to head down to boulders by the sea in the evening to try and catch some shots of the sunset and get some late evening climbing in. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the spectacular orange light we were hoping for but after watching the tide come in decided this boulder would be an excellent spot for a photo. I liked the leading lines of the boulder and the horizon and Ryan had also been sessioning this problem the day before so was keen to get some more photos on it. The camera used was the Sony A7S MkII, being a great camera for low light video work and convenient enough to grab some stills on it as well. The image was captured using a canon 16-35 2.8 L-Series lens at an aperture of f.6.3 to try and focus not just on Ryan climbing, but also retain some sharpness of the waves and rock. The shutter speed was 1/160 to try and avoid boosting the iso too much which was kept at 640. In hindsight, it would have probably been better to bump the shutter speed and ISO up a bit to avoid any motion blur in the sea and Ryan’s moves on the route. Editing wise not much was done other than adding a bit of contrast and reducing the highlights to bring out more detail in the sunset and the clouds
Sony A7S MKII, Canon 16-35 F2.8, 1/160, f6.8, ISO 640
Winner of the Expedition Category: Not your regular crevasse by James Rushforth
Firstly before Ian Stevens corrects me again (and thanks for the education Ian) this is a subglacial meltwater channel, not a crevasse. The upper hole seen here is known as a relict portal, created by a previous, higher meltwater channel. We followed this particular ice cave for some 300m, deep inside the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. The light which filters down from above illuminates many otherworldly textures and patterns which closely resemble the works of several surrealist painters. Care must be taken around the entrances during warmer weather as they are prone to collapsing meaning it is only possible to explore the caves during the winter.
Nikon D810, 24-70 at 56mm. 1/200s, F/14, ISO 100
Winner of the Hillwalking Category: Winnats Pass by Sam Taylor
Winnats Pass is a well known photographers haunt in the Peak District and on a calm cold morning a cloud inversion over Castleton always attracts a fair few people looking for the classic shot. We’d already shot an amazing sunrise up on Mam Tor and headed down to Winnats on the way back into Sheffield not expecting there to still be an inversion in the valley. To our delight, when we arrived it was just starting to thin out, revealing the contours of the lower sides of the pass through the haze. We hurried along the top and Ben made his way onto one of the pinnacles and we grabbed a few shots before the mist burned off.
Canon 5D III, Canon 17-40mm f4, 1/320th, f5, ISO 160
Winner of the Landscape Category: Cir Mhor by Garry Robertson
Having overnighted on Goatfell's summit a few weeks previous in far from perfect conditions, we were now back aboard the ferry heading for the wonderful Isle of Arran with our intention being to bivvy and hopefully catch a beautiful summit sunset, stunning sunrise or, if fortunate, both. With a good weather window, we finalised plans and decided to make for Caisteal Abhail whose top is relatively flat but also with numerous interesting granite torrs and superb views in all directions. What ultimately unfolded was way beyond our expectations.
The early evening walk in was typical for this time of year with a gradual climb on easy terrain, a light breeze and only an odd midge to bother us. Before long the sun slipped serenely behind the Paps of Jura and we were now being treated to an amazing full moon floating above Goatfell and conveniently lighting up the surrounding ridges.
We woke at around 03:45 and on getting to our feet we could hardly believe the fantastic cloud inversion scene that was so atmospherically engulfing the whole island.
Sunrise was still an hour away so no need to rush. Dawn was just spectacular with the ever-evolving sea of white clouds entertaining us as they poured up the glens then spilling over into the next. Before long the first rays of warm diffused light began to streak across the low clouds and granite tops, a truly magical sight with many photographs being taken long into the morning.
In this image, I have placed the wonderful peak of Cir Mhor centrally, hopefully helping to both isolate and at the same time enhance its solitary beauty.
Canon 5Ds with 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens @ 16mm, 1/5sec, f/16, ISO 100, Lee ND grad filter, tripod
Winner of the Scrambling Category: Crib Goch by Sam Taylor
The photo was taken during a mountain biking trip to Snowdonia with the University of Sheffield Cycling Club which consists of a hike-a-bike up Snowdon on the first day. Oscar and I were injured so left the bikes at home, instead aiming to meet our fellow riders on the summit via Crib Goch. The weather was horrendous, strong winds and blinding snow covering the summit and blinding up-drafted hail battering us from our right as we scrambled along the narrowest parts of the ridge. Oscar led and I hung back to grab a photo, just as the clouds parted and the sun lit him up briefly. I just grabbed the shot before the clouds closed back in.
Canon 5D III, Canon 17-40mm f4, 1/1250th, f4, ISO 400
Winner of the Sport Climbing Category: Alex Mason on Manic Strain by Jethro Kiernan
The day started off with a trip to Gogarth but strong winds and the typical lack of a decent belay to ab off meant I didn't get any decent shots and Mick and Alex were fed up of being blown around, A quick conflab saw us heading back to Llanberis to play on the slate.
Alex wanted to get on the slate classic Manic Strain so we set up, I wanted to shoot wide angle to get the pool into the shot as I'd previously taken pictures of Pete Robins on the adjacent route on a tight shot so didn't want to repeat that. Shooting wide angle on routes can be tricky, you can "lose" the subject and if you get the angle wrong you can make hard routes look like a slab. Unfortunately, the right angle means trying to keep your feet out the shot which takes a lot of contortions and a good core workout.
The overcast light was working well for bringing out the converging lines of the slate corners and different shades of slate, I just let Alex do his thing snapping away waiting for him to reach the point I thought it looked best.
Winner of the Trad Climbing Category: Whipper by Nadir Khan
Robbie Phillips had been climbing wild at heart E7 6b on The Cobbler, Arrochar and had virtually finished the route and had done all the hard climbing and had gone around the corner of the aerate out of site and I was looking through the camera viewfinder waiting for the triumphant shot at the top of the crag, suddenly I heard a shout as the last hold was covered in dirt and his hand slid off it as he was making the last move. I fired off a burst of shots and this one caught the flight in mid-action
Canon 5D IV, 70-200 f4, 1/4000, f4, ISO 800
Winner of the Winter Climbing Category: Headtorch ascent of Great Gully II on Buchaille Etive Mor by Jonathan Doyle
We were treated to perfect conditions during our winter traverse of the Aonach Eagach Ridge, above Glencoe. It was certainly a very un-Scottish experience! After having such a wonderful day, I was feeling really inspired to take some night-time landscape photographs. In fact, I had already spotted a shot I wanted to capture of Buachaille Etive Mòr, the beautiful angular peak guarding the entrance to Glen Coe, the previous night. The others just wanted to climb! Together we quickly realised that Great Gully cut right through the centre of the frame and thus the plan was formed.
Matt Amos, Dan Dry and Timo Makower set off for the start of the route as night fell. In my mind’s eye, I wanted to photograph the headtorch trail travelling up the route, but unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly equipped for this; all I had with me was my Nikon D750 camera with a Tamron 24-70 f/2.8. I spent some time finding a good position to take the shot and then proceeded to set up my gear. I balanced my camera on some rocks and a water bottle and took a few test shots to make sure my settings were suitable (ISO 400, f/2.8, 13-second exposure). I then crawled into my sleeping bag and waited for my friends to begin.
They took just under 75 minutes to complete the route, during which I shot one image every minute using my phone as a timer and manually releasing the shutter (with a 2-second delay). Overall it was a beautifully engaging experience, watching my friends progress up the mountain while simultaneously capturing it was so energising. I am certain I enjoyed the evening just as much as my friends did!
Winner of the Winter Walking Category: Approaching the Buachaille by Paul Bennett
This image was taken on the walk in to Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mòr. The day was clear with blue skies in the valley, but as we neared the route, the wind whipped up the spindrift, making conditions harsher.
This was an opportunistic shot taken as two climbers ahead approached their chosen route. The way in which the figures are walking out of the frame and the cold, almost monochrome scene, creates a feeling of unease reflecting the trepidation we felt as we approached the route.
We followed some other climbers onto our route without confirming our position and soon passed them. The route should have been well within our ability, but we found it a real challenge. We later discovered we had climbed a different and significantly harder route.
We were slower than expected and topped out as night was falling. We saw enough of the descent to pick up the correct line to follow before we were in complete darkness. Luckily we picked up a trail of raised footprints which lead us in the light of our head torches off the mountain, down to the snowline and back to the car.
My climbing partner commented on how strangely foggy the night had become. This struck me as odd given the crystal clear starry sky above. Upon reaching the pub in Glencoe at last orders it was obvious there was something wrong with his vision as he needed guiding through the door. Fortunately, his sight returned after a night's sleep. We put it down to dehydration or exhaustion. Who knows. A great day out in the Scottish winter!
Nikon D3000 with 35mm lens, 1/800 sec, f/10.0, IS0 400
3rd Place: Starting up the last pitch in full conditions by Dave Matthews
Although based in Tayside, none of us had climbed in Corrie Farchal before and we decided to try the route ‘Silver Threads among the Gold’. We all had a go at leading various pitches and it wound up with Ewan at the sharp end for the last, crux pitch. Callum took up the belaying leaving me free to amuse myself. Conditions were pretty grim with snow and spindrift being whipped around in a gusty wind. It got pretty chilly standing around as Ewan inched his way slowly up the wall to our left with a white void below. It turned out protection was good as none of us could free the cam he’d placed! Needless to say, we both struggled too, but all made it up happy – it’s a great little route.
As I was stuck around on the belay doing nothing useful I took the chance to grab a few snaps. Back in the warmth at home, I thought this one captured the feeling of that pitch: something about the blurriness and Callum’s outstretched hand.
I’d like to thank all the UKC users who voted for the photo when I first posted it, and Tim Glasby for selecting it as a finalist in the competition. And, of course, Ewan and Callum for the climbing!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 Compact at 28mm, 1/500, f3.3, ISO400
If I was asked by the mainstream media to supply them with an image that encapsulated Scottish winter climbing, I’d send them this one.
To me this is a “grab shot” when a photo opportunity arises you take the shot. The skill here is getting into a position to allow yourself to do that and that is exactly what Dave did. It’s not the most beautiful shot, but it is gritty and real and shows a part of climbing we rarely see. Given the conditions he’s shooting in he did well to capture such a great image.
2nd Place: On the summit of Monte Forca by James Rushforth
Located equidistant between the Marmolada South Face and the San Pellegrino Pass, Monte Forca is a seldom frequented but spectacular ski mountaineering itinerary with excellent views in all directions. This shot was taken whilst approaching the ridge from the north after crossing the Marmolada group from the Val Pettorina. Visibility was in and out all day with low cloud rising up from the lowlands surrounding Moena. A brief clear up revealed a party of two which had just ascended via the west ridge; their silhouettes stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding low cloud making for a wonderful scene that looked black and white even in colour. I snapped this shot off quickly with a 24-70 lens before switching to a 70-200 for better framing. Unfortunately by the time I had them changed over the cloud was back and visibility was once again down to a few metres. Thus the resulting shot is very heavily cropped image taken at 70mm, made possible by the huge resolution offered by the D810.
Nikon D810, 24-70 at 70mm. 1/500s, F/11, ISO 100.
Strong lines, a well-placed climber/walker and an almost monochromatic feel to this image from James make for a striking photo.
The fore and background nicely balance each other, both have just enough detail in them to keep the viewer interested, but not detract from the very strong central composition. Both highlights and shadows retain that all important detail. I also love the balance between the person and the mountain. The composition, how it's laid out, can make or break a photo. The lines here are very strong, my eyes were immediately drawn to the climber and then from there followed the ridgeline to the peak and then on to the only “just peaks” hidden in the clouds beyond.
Overall Winner: Liam Fyfe Flying in the Preselis by Simon Rawlinson
The photo was taken on a great day exploring the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire. Liam had climbed this problem on an earlier visit and it stood out for a photo opportunity as his beta required an all points of dyno. The photo was taken on a Nikon d10 (settings f16 iso 125 1\60 sec) with a Samyang 12mm F2 Lens. This allowed me to capture the dynamic part of climbing whilst keeping the amazing backdrop in shot. I used 2 Hahnel modus 600 speed lights, one to light Liam in flight and the other I was experimenting with in various positions. Liam climbed this problem 7 times in total and whilst I was shooting, which allowed me to fine tune the shot each time. The end image I am very pleased with as it portrays the fun we had messing around on these relatively unexplored blocs over an amazing summer.
Climbing, mountaineering or walking photography can be rather predictable. When I first went through all the photos in each category it was Simon's image of a virtually airborne Liam Fyfe that immediately caught my eye. It was different, it made me grin, it stood out from all the other well exposed and classically composed photos. For me, that is exactly what a great photo is supposed to do, create a reaction and get you talking.
A photo competition is a perfect place to submit something a little different, something that isn’t necessarily what we would expect, dare I say it, a little “left-field” and that is what Simon has done here. Convention straight out the window! However It’s also technically very good, his use of off-camera flash to illuminate the climber, which he’s had to balance to accommodate the background works really well. He’s used a very wide angle lens which has caused converging verticals, but the climber has been placed almost centrally to minimise this effect (Simon knows his gear). There is nothing subtle about this image, it’s almost a deliberate caricature of a bouldering shot and it hits you at a 100mph, which is what I love about it - it puts the fun back into what is a joyous sport.
UKC and UKH would like to thank all the users who have submitted photographs throughout 2018. In total there were 8581 user submitted photos, a real testament to the online climbing community.