Vertical World Climbing Gyms, Mountaineers Books, and the American Alpine Club - Cascade Section are proud to host Jim Herrington as he presents his photography book The Climbers (Mountaineers Books), the culmination of a two-decade project to track down and document the surviving legendary climbers of the early-to-mid 20th Century ‘Golden Age’ of climbing. These are the men and women from around the world who were vertically active between the 1920s and 1970s and who were at the cutting edge of an activity mostly unknown to the general public of the time.
Published in October 2017, The Climbers received both the Grand Prize and the Mountaineering History Award at the 2017 Banff Film & Book Festival.
Jim’s talk and slide show will begin with a brief encapsulation of his 35-year photography career, including his foray into the worlds of music and showbiz. He will move on to the climbers, detailing the inspiring and captivating stories of the climbers and their era as well as describing his unusual efforts to locate and arrive on the doorstep of these aging legends. The travels and travails he undertook to complete this far-flung project are not without anecdotes of despair, humor and adventure.
What is it like to be 98 years old and to look back at an uncompromising life spent in the “useless” quest of first ascents, usually far from home and hearth? The momentum and vigor of youth is not an ideal recipe for introspection, but one’s final years certainly suffice. Herrington learned as much about himself as he did his subjects during the project – the cost and reward of obsession and how to live in the present.
Jim began this series shooting with black-and-white analog film, yet during the course of the project, with the advent of digital photography, it looked as if film would disappear completely—like hemp rope or hobnail boots. Indeed, at times it was difficult to know which would vanish first, the climbers he was photographing or the film he was using. Luckily, film got an eleventh hour reprieve and he was pleased to be able to shoot the entirety of this book on silver nitrate, which remains his chosen method of taking pictures to this day.
Herrington will recount what it was like to step into these climber’s homes, their lives, and their history. Seemingly time-traveling from the classic mountaineering literature he devoured as a young boy into the living rooms of these aging legends, this is his rogue’s gallery, a sampling of, and an ode to, an era.
The Climbers, published in October 2017, received both the Grand Prize and the Mountaineering History Award at the 2017 Banff Film & Book Festival.
Tickets are $8 on the link provided and $10 at the door.