The afternoon was hot and dry, the air was heavy with dust. I was at Minnehaha Rock Park looking for a creative landscape imaging experience. I was studying the light, looking for unique perspectives and views in the interplay of rocks and trees. I wasn’t too far into my search when a group of four rock climbers came into view, preparing for an afternoon of fun and challenge.
Having done some mountaineering in the past, I was familiar with what they were doing. Preparing a top rope, they would then rappel down the rock face, then climb back up using the rope for fall protection with a belay from below. I had to stay back for safety reasons; Falling ropes, rocks and helmet-less heads don’t mix. I could tell the team was experienced as individuals, but there were some new faces to the group. They communicated well as they took to climbing, commands being repeated sharp;y and clearly, ensuring everyone’s safety.
As the afternoon wore on, I spent some time watching them, taking images of them at work, thinking of how man interacts with nature in a variety of ways. This thought would later become an important theme in my own efforts. The climbers would study the rock face just as I would, but to differing ends. They only trace they would leave behind was a trail of chalk dust they used to increase their grip. The only trace I’d leave behind were dusty footprints.
Looking back through the images I created that afternoon, I found that I was studying man’s interaction with nature, and what he does to change the environment. I captured the graffiti that was ever-present in the park, in an attempt to make the ugly beautiful. I had done a similar study at Hazel Creek, focusing on how man forced his way through nature, leaving behind steel and brick. The climbers went into nature, looking to challenging themselves, to embrace the obstacles before them. To overcome but respect nature. To interact, but leave no trace.