My Favorite Images/Adventures of 2013

2013 was a pretty good year for me in the mountains. Despite missing the first half due to a serious ankle injury, I was still able to accomplish climbs that pushed the envelope for me both technically and physically.

Highlights last year include ski descents down WA’s three highest peaks (including a solo descent on Rainier in one push), finally getting Baker’s North Ridge Ice Cliff after getting turned around 3x previously, climbing Stuart’s Complete North Ridge in a 3-night epic (one of Roper/Steck’s 50 classics and my most technical alpine rock climb yet), climbing Mt. Fernow which meant I’d now climbed 9 of the 10 highest peaks in WA, and of course the 24 hours+ of straight climbing on Buckner with Linsey and an epic boat, bus, bike ride extravaganza on Bonanza with Alin. I’ll never forget passing out on the ground—salami and wheat thins strewn about everywhere—after Linsey and I climbed until our heavy eyelids forced us to lie in the dirt with just enough energy to halfway eat something (Buckner).

Audrey and I ended up going on quite a few climbs/adventures together in ‘13. She’s always so great about being coaxed out of a warm sleeping bag to stand still with a headlamp, in the cold, often in precarious positions while I take long night exposures. The images she helps create often end up being personal favorites of mine, I really appreciate her willingness to try all sorts of crazy ideas.

In 2014 I’ll finally be releasing my Time-lapse project which will include aerial footage in the North Cascades. I’ll also be attempting a Denali summit in May. I’ve been training hard and am excited to try larger scale climbing outside the continental US. Rainier’s Liberty Ridge also on my list, and—who knows—maybe Goode to complete the 10 highest in WA.

Anyway, it’s hard not to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in 2013, and I’m looking forward to new adventures and possibilities in 2014.

Most of the images below were taken with my Canon 5D MKIII + 16-35mm lens, although some are Go Pro video stills or Iphone pics. Click on any image to see a larger version on my Facebook page. Higher quality images can be seen on my 500px page.

MAY MOAB - CORONA ARCH with Audrey Sniezek

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JUNE MT BAKER - NORTH RIDGE with Alin, Catalin, Piotr

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JUNE MT BUCKNER with Linsey Warren

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JULY MT ADAMS - SOLO SKI DESCENT

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JULY MT RAINIER - SOLO SKI DESCENT

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JULY MT RAINIER - STEAMBOAT PROW with Brendan Dore

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JULY BONANZA PEAK with Alin

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AUGUST MT STUART - THE COMPLETE NORTH RIDGE with Jack and Audrey

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AUGUST FORBIDDEN PEAK with Audrey Sniezek

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OCTOBER MOUNT FERNOW with Linsey Warren

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DECEMBER MT RAINIER with Audrey Sniezek

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Mt. Adams: Solo Ski Descent

imageHeaded down from the summit of Mt. Adams (~11k ft) in late June/early July 2013 (lower quality Go Pro still). I ended up skiing Baker, Adams solo, then Rainier solo in 2013 for the first time. I don’t ski well but I’m learning and getting better. I switched from snowboarding to save weight/quicken the transitions. I still love snowboarding. Click pic for a larger version.

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Mt. Adams was my first solo “mountaineering” experience (2009). It felt empowering to climb a mountain on my own for the first time. It was in November when the mountain was covered in ice with a poor weather approach (high winds, blizzard-y snow, a few puddles). I was the only one on the mountain while I setup camp under the Lunch Counter (9k ft) after the sun disappeared.  A full moon came out that night as the skies cleared. I found something for myself that I’d continue to seek out for the next 5 years. I was fascinated with how the stars and moonlight interacted with the rocks, ice, trees, and mountain streams. I enjoyed reflecting on the shadows and watching how they move under the massive expanse of the universe. I also like Mountain House-brand freeze dried mac ‘n cheese.

After settling in my tent, I called my then-girlfriend from my tent as I was looking out at the glowing upper mountain against the backdrop of stars. I tried to describe the profound affect it had on me, but I couldn’t really do it justice. It had to be experienced. You had to go out there, roll around in the snow, eat some of it, then spit it back out to really “get it”. Seriously though I wanted to share it, but there was also something attractive about the solitude. Robert Frost writes about this idea of the allure of darkness. How tempting it is to let it swallow you up, to give into it completely, but how we resist it, instead trying and live life outside ourselves.

The next day I ended up meeting some cool new people, climbing with them, and getting some amazing light and clouds for photography. It was also the first time I had written about a climbing experience, which I found I liked.

In other words, Mt. Adams has some significance for me.

Back to 2013: My plan after June’s Mt Baker North Ridge climb was to continue the recovery from my Nov 2012 bouldering-related ankle injury by going up Adams as fast as possible. I hadn’t been back since the fire had scarred the landscape. The bare, blackened trees at the lower elevations contrasted with the blue sky and white clouds and snow-covered upper mountain - a visually inspiring start to my climb.

I went up fairly quickly to 10k feet - 3 hours of skinning before developing a bad case of altitude sickness. It put me on the ground for an hour. I also lost my sunglasses when I switched to goggles. I tried to get things under control with food and water, but it didn’t help. Earlier I blew past some guys lower down and I saw them passing me now. One said something about “you shouldn’t overdo it because that’s what can happen” (referring to me) to his friend. I wanted to tell him to f-off, but all I could do was drool and make an “uhgh” sound as I lay sideways, completely immobilized on the steep slope halfway up to Piker’s Peak. I tried to flip him off but in my confused state I mistook my middle finger for my thumb, so it looked like I was drooling, moaning incoherently, and giving him a thumbs up. What a pathetic sight. A lot of people were on the mountain so  I tried to appear like everything was OK as best I could - hoping to to avoid the barrage of concerned questions. It mostly worked, but there were a lot of people. What a contrast from my 2009 trip. I knew the AMS would either pass or I had the strength to descend if needed.

Eventually I rested enough and continued to the summit, the the feeling of nausea/headache slightly reduced. I think the problem was that I drank nothing until the Lunch Counter (9k ft), and was going full steam. I had brought a nalgene vs. a camelbak and paid for it. Constant sipping helps me avoid AMS on fast ascents vs. more sporadic nalgene gulps.

The descent from the summit (12,281ft) to Piker’s Peak (~11.5k) was pretty icy and choppy, but doable. I had mounted a Go Pro on my pole, and another one on my ski. The Go Pro on my ski fell off around 11.5k ft and thank god someone saw this. I dug around for 10 minutes and recovered it. $400 mistake averted.

Piker’s (~11.5k ft) back down to the Lunch Counter (9k) was the most enjoyable part of the trip due to the good, corny snow. Visibility then started to suffer as the clouds moved in a bit lower. Below the Lunch Counter visibility worsened and the snow became heavy and uneven. It really sucked to ski in this stop-and-go stuff, especially with my limited skills. I went too far right and found myself off-route near some cornices. The cornices cliffed ahead of me so I back-tracked and pushed off the first cornice. I skied left of this cornice on a steep slope toward a few other straggler climbers. I triggered a small avalanche in doing this. I skied clear and watched the snow continue moving for a while, listening to the varied hissing sound of a minor avalanche. I needed to get lower as I still felt like shit, so I ducked out early before the avalanche had finished performing.

I found an entry back onto the main route a bit lower. I was questioning whether or not I could make it to the car due to my lowly, waterless state. I finally reached the dirt/rock walking trail amongst the scorched trees. A group of two men + two women my age were nice enough to give me just a little bit of water they had left. They also offered scotch and company to the car, but there was no way I could swallow alcohol or interact coherently with people. I let them go ahead. When no one was looking I forced myself to puke there between some of those blackened trees that inspired me earlier. Doing this reminder me of the scene from Zoolander where Matilda said she was bulimic and Zoolander asks her if she can read minds. After puking I felt better and made it back to the car where recovery finally began.

The long drive back seemed to go quickly. Despite the altitude sickness, I was happy I made the trip. I’m always happy I make these trips, even if I’m solo and even if things don’t go as planned. A few moments of joy within hours of misery somehow makes it all worth it. I was also able to capture some Go Pro stills I thought looked interesting.

imageHeading up to the summit. Go Pro still (all are unless specified differently).

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imageAbout 12,000 feet, almost there. Ski crampons came in handy here.

imageHeaded down just below the summit. Go Pro mounted to the front of my ski.

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imageVisibility drops toward 9,000, getting me off route.

imageAbout to bite it up near the summit. Will the two people in the distance laugh at me? Or will they laugh *with* me? Answer: A. Not a big slapstick fan.

imageThe distance.

imageScorched earth. Phone pic.

imageThe drive back into Oregon. Mt. Hood hiding behind clouds to the right. Phone pic.

Mt. Baker, North Ridge, North Cascades, WA

Experimental video using Go Pro footage from my June 2013 climb up Mt. Baker’s North Ridge ice cliff (trying to make a bunch of boring Go Pro footage interesting). This climb was a new level for me - it was an unforgettable experience.

Please use headphones or a good sound system when watching this video as it’s sound-intensive.

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imageFollowing Piotr up Baker’s North Ridge ice cliff this past June with a skis on my back. This is the first of two steep pitches on the eastern side of cliff proper. Climbing the second pitch left me with some of the most heightened feelings I’ve ever felt climbing. The climb’s difficulty (for me), the shenanigans we had to go through on the approach, and the ski descent all came together to make this among my most memorable climbs yet. Perhaps only Stuart’s Complete North Ridge later this year would eclipse it, but both are very different. 

I tried to climb Baker’s North Ridge in July 2011. A climbing partner’s crampon mix-up from halted that (story/pics here).

I tried again with a strong team in May of 2012, but a storm turned us around at the base of a section of the ice cliff none of us were going to climb anyway, causing quite the epic (story, pics, and video here).

I tried again in August of 2012, but we couldn’t seem to find passage onto the ridge due to late season conditions. We spent too much time trying a different route up the extremely broken up Roosevelt (story, pics here).

Everyone knows that the fourth times a charm I think, so me, Catalin, Piotr, and Alin tried again in June 2013 and we finally got it. It was one of the best, most intense climbing experiences I’ve had yet.

A washout/road closure added 16 miles of boring fire road walking to the approach (round trip). I somehow convinced Piotr, Catalin, and Alin that I could pull them on a bicycle attached to my dirt bike with some static rope as a way of overcoming the approach difficulties. 

Cut to me in ski boots on my Husqvarna 450 with full overnight pack and skis on, pulling Piotr in the dark, eight miles up a bumpy fire road at 15-20mph, with zero communication between us to the bike’s noise and no way for him to stop. At first he said it was so fun he might pay to do something like that, but after a couple miles and rougher roads it became pretty precarious. I kept looking back, expecting to see him dragging along with the overturned bicycle, his pack caught in the spokes. Thankfully he made it unscathed.  

I dropped him at the Heliotrope trail head, put the bicycle on my shoulders with a sleeping pad as buffer, and hauled ass 8 miles back to beginning of Glacier Creek road to pick up Alin/Catalin. Alin would ride on the back of the bike (it’s not really made for 2), and I’d tow Catalin the same way I did for Piotr. This worked out fine until I needed to stop at a bridge and Catalin kept going until the static rope pulled taut and sent him flying over the handle bars, hitting his helmet on something hard. Miraculously he was not injured so we kept going.

By this time it was pretty late so we opted to sleep, then haul overnight gear up to a basecamp on the Coleman to make sure we did the climb with maximum daylight. The original plan was to do it in one push with lighter packs, but we wanted to give ourselves the maximum chance for success - what with this being the fourth attempt for Alin and me

This was the first real climb I’d done since my ankle injury (bouldering accident) that incapacitated me for 5+ months, so I wasn’t overly excited about a heavy pack plus skis, but oh well. I also didn’t really know how to ski very well yet, but I knew enough it turned out.

Anyway I’ll let the pictures and captions tell the rest of story, but this was a really special climb for me and one of the highlights of my year. I ended up skiiing both Rainier and Mt. Adams solo after this after realizing how much fun it is to ski these big volcanoes. 

Piotr ended up breaking his wrist while riding his bike back in the dark. He did some impressive leading of both ice cliff pitches and some sketchy route finding around the large schrund area up top. I remember coming out of the chimney on the second ice pitch and being shocked at how much further I had to go on what felt like vertical terrain. I don’t think I could’ve led that - nice work Piotr.

Someone also broke the window on my rig and stole only my favorite pair of jeans, which were so hard to find due to my height. They took my jeans and left my Ipad mini. If you ever see someone in the town of Glacier with cool jeans that look way too long on them, please let me know. We rode the whole way home exhausted with a missing window, so I’d like to have a few words with the a-hole who did that.

Note: Almost all pics are Go Pro video stills. I did bring a DSLR up and over, but didn’t really use it.

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Organizing gear 8 miles from the trail head due to a road closure. I had a crazy idea to tow team members on a bicycle from my motorcycle to cut down on the approach. It worked…kind of. Photo by Piotr Chadovich.

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I don’t usually wear ski boots on my 450, or do I? Photo by Alin Flaidar.

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We didn’t originally intend to take an overnight pack past the trail head, but we got in later than expected and wanted to give ourselves maximum daylight to climb this thing. Good choice in the end. Anyway, I guess all this shit actually does fit in/on a 52L pack. Comfortably though? Not sure I’d go that far. Photo by Alin Flaidar.

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From our camp on the lower Coleman - a familiar alpine scene - blue sky, clouds casting shadows on the rock, snow and ice. I haven’t tired of it yet.

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Piotr and Catalin fueling up at camp. 

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Late afternoon stroll on the Coleman in shadows and clouds for some crevasse rescue practice 

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Skinning over cracks in the lower Coleman looking for some large holes in which to lower ourselves.

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The next day. Long morning shadows follow us across the Coleman toward the North Ridge base.

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Hole patterns over a crevasse on the Coleman.

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Piotr greets the morning Sun. The North Ridge is straight ahead.

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Crossing over a 6’ wide snow bridge on the largest crevasse I saw on the mountain. It looked like a cathedral. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but trust me it was massive.

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One other party behind us taking the ridge. Clouds move off the West side of Baker as the sun continues to rise . 

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Me on the North Ridge with some extra weight on my back. Colfax and Lincoln are behind me. Conditions were perfect down here. It got really windy higher up.

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Moving higher toward the bass of the ice cliff proper after a steep traverse that emptied into a large crevasse. The exposure left overlooking the Roosevelt Glacier was pretty spectacular. 

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Piotr getting ready to lead the first pitch of the ice cliff. 

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Following on pitch one.

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Me trying to come to terms with how I’m going to get up and over the cliff’s abrupt corner.

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Looking down often to enjoy the view and appreciate this incredible climb.

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Setting up getting up and over the corner. It looked like it was going to be tricky. 

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Relieved to be over the corner, some easier climbing until we get inside the chimney above. More steepness to go past the chimney.

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Catalin and Alin probably hated me by now as these chunks probably bounced off of their helmets.

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On the edge of the corner. Some nice exposure on the right.

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This should be enough to make about 8 snow cones for my belayers. Just trying to be thoughtful.

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Might even be enough for 9-10 snow cones, thinking about it more.

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Piotr’s anchor in the chimney. My GoPro went dead just before I started climbing the second pitch here which was one of the most elated moments climbing. Ridiculous exposure on both sides and much steeper than the first pitch, seemingly sustained for longer. 

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Above the ice cliff, relaxing to 55-60 degrees…ish.

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My second Go Pro. I also brought a heavy DSLR/lens up and over. I didn’t take it out of the bag once past camp.

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Steep but easier on the upper North Ridge. God sprinkled in some high winds and low clouds to add drama to our climb.

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We arrive at the serac and crevasse maze on upper North Ridge’s bergschrund-y area. The snow bridge directly ahead was wide and weak, I almost punched through. Piotr did an admirable job of trying to navigate through this thing, which at times seemed a bit unnavigable.

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Thin, weak and wide bridge over a sizable crevasse. I punched through past my knees and peed my pants a little.

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Broken pieces of ice litter some of the most interesting terrain I’ve seen.

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Piotr working his way through obstacles, doing some solid route finding.

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I thought this crevasse had much more of an overhanging, weak lip than it actually did so I crossed it pack/ski-less. I didn’t need to do that it turned out, but look I got this picture.

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Some really fun, sometimes steep broken up terrain at the final stretch. We had no idea what would be at each turn, and at least I was very surprised we reached the summit plateau without running into several un-crossable serac/crevasse sections. Having to retreat back down the ice cliff would’ve made this a serious epic.

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We nodded to the true summit on our way toward the Roman Wall, we’d all been there before (I’m pretty sure).

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I skied down a decent chunk back to camp. It was so icy down low I nearly skied straight into a giant crevasse. Everyone punched through the ice but my skis raced across its super slick surface at speeds that easily took up up and over a hill.

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Our route up the North Ridge. An unforgettable climb. This was the fourth attempt at the North Ridge for Alin and I. Persistence works. 

MY FAVORITE FILMS AND CINEMATOGRAPHY: 2013

Favorite Film Index: 2013,20122011201020092005-2008

Movies are the greatest source of inspiration for anything I’ve tried creatively. I try to see everything good each year, below is what I thought of 2013.

FAVORITE FILMS (IN ORDER)

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  1. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen). Cate Blanchett’s character and her performance stood out for me as the strongest representation of writing/acting this year. Her character is so flawed and crazy, but also so vulnerable and deeply layered/shaded. This isn’t a typical Woody Allen film, but he seems to have done a lot of atypical films by now that I like (Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona, etc). It’s amazing that the guy who made Annie Hall and Manhattan in the 70s is still making some of the best films today. This film also includes some great performances from Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Alec Baldwin, even Louis CK (who’s also good in American Hustle).

  2. The Act of Killing (Director’s Cut) (Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn). I’ve never seen anything like this film. The actors are actual mass murderers who act out their killings in homage to a communist purging in the 60s via a surreal, psuedo-Hollywood production.Mass-killings due to political ideological differences are celebrated, and morality questioned as the main character oscillates between pride and buried shame. The director’s cut is very long and slow, but the material rich and original making it worth it for those interested in exploring a dark world. Executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, two other filmmakers I respect.

  3. Nebraska (Alexander Payne). A simple story about family exploration via a road trip that intersects with friends and relatives from the past. I’ve done a bit of this myself recently so it also hit a personal chord. The film is shot in a very straightforward way with a lot of stationary camera and wide/medium shots which serve the story perfectly.

  4. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen). I watched this after sitting through a lot of films with traditional narrative structures. What a relief to peer in on some interesting characters for a bit without being constrained by traditional film tropes/conventions. The music, acting, cinematography, writing all come together to create something special. The Coen brothers are easily the smartest, most skilled, consistent artists working in film today.

  5. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón). Another completely original film that blew me away. The visuals and overall experience was certainly something special that everyone should see in an IMAX theater. The story itself was OK, and it included some overly sentimental moments that felt a bit cliche to me in addition to some contrived conflicts to keep the action up. A more Tarkovsky/Kubrick style treatment to the writing could made this movie even more unforgettable.

  6. To the Wonder (Terrence Malick). My favorite director and one of my favorite cinematographers (Gravity DP Emmanuel Lubezki) working together again. Mood and tone created through visuals and sound is something very powerful for me. Compared to The Tree of Life this film deals more directly with male/female relationships, but strikes the same tone and abstraction through moving images and a rich soundtrack/sound design. Like The Tree of Life, this film won’t be for everyone.

  7. Her (Spike Jonze). I’ve been a fan of Spike Jonze since his music video days. He’s another extremely original filmmaker who can take concepts/ideas that other filmmakers would ruin and actually make them work. “Guy falls in love with Siri” for example. He takes it seriously while still making it funny in a way that doesn’t undercut the genuine feeling behind what he’s trying to explore emotionally with these characters/performances.

  8. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine). Another one of my favorite directors from Kids and Julien Donkey Boy. He works/thinks on a different-level than most, and it shows here. The film is a mess, but in a good way. It’s original, and James Franco’s character/performance is memorable.

  9. The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg). Danish movie from the Dogme 95 co-creator. Probably should be higher on this list, very powerful with strong performances all around. Don’t skip it.                                                                 
  10. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino). Channeling Fellini (easily one of my all-time favorite directors) without feeling overly derivative. This film is very rich across the board, the soundtrack even includes one of my favorite pieces by the lesser-known French composer Poulenc, more of John Tavner’s religious choral music (also used by Malick in The Tree of Life), and also a mix of some solid modern dance music.
  11. This is the End (Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen). Danny McBride’s lines and the end cameo alone make this film worth watching. I love these guys.

  12. Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche). Long, but engaging throughout primarily due to the strong performances from both actresses who commit so fully it’s deeply affecting. It’s impressive how a simple story about youth and love that lacks gimmicks, plot twists, special effects, etc. can be so powerful.

  13. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen). The movie itself felt a bit Hollywood/traditional, sort of Spielberg-esque, except for some extremely powerful scenes and original camera work. I love when more raw, auteur-ish directors get a chance to take on stuff like this (see Steve McQueen’s Shame to see his style/sensibility). There is one scene you can’t I’ll forget where the camera just lingers. It’s the most memorable scene of the year or ever.

  14. Blackfish (Gabriela Cowperthwaite). Watch it and see if you go to Sea World ever again in your life.

  15. The Conjuring (Chad and Carey Hayes). This movie actually scared me, a full-grown, skeptical adult man. That doesn’t really happen anymore, hence I’m impressed and this film is on my list this year.

  16. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel). Extremely unconventional film that will not be accessible to most. I prize originality, however, and this film has a lot of it.

  17. Before Midnight (Hotel scene only) (Richard Linklater). The film as a whole felt a bit too pretentious for me, but the hotel scene where the couple has an argument that runs deep stood out as memorable for its performances/writing.

  18. Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green). Two very different guys trying to get along out in the middle of nowhere. David Gordon Green is one of my favorite directors working due to his range and ability to combine comedy with genuine emotion and stylization, on display here.

  19. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass). A sort of military, procedural film with strong emotional undertones, but played relatively straight (similar to one of my 2006 favorites by Greengrass, United 93). He and Kathryn Bigelow own this style of filmmaking and I’m a fan.

  20. Sound City (Dave Grohl). One of the first films I saw this year that I really liked. The discussions around about what makes for good sound/music and the rich history of this piece of equipment across musicians I grew up with held my interest. Worth seeing.

  21. Side Effects (1st 1/2 only) (Steven Soderbergh). The first half of this movie was more about the characters, relationships, emotional states, etc. I liked the possibilities. The second half got bogged down in crazy plot twists and distractions and ruined the movie for me.

  22. An Oversimplification of her Beauty (Terence Nance). Unique, with a lot of insight on the range of feelings that go along with getting to know someone. The director might have been a little too into himself, but there was enough rich material here to offset.

  23. Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (Michel Gondry). Michel Gondry (another favorite director starting with music videos) interviews Noam Chomsky and creates original visuals to play under the dialog while offering his personal perspectives on his understanding/relationship to the material. It worked for me.

 

FAVORITE CINEMATOGRAPHY (IN ORDER)

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  1. Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki). The visuals in this film are stunning. Lighting and camera movement coupled with visual effects in a completely new way. I’m not sure how to describe it but it’s worth experiencing.

  2. To the Wonder (Emmanuel Lubezki). I love the Lubezki/Malick style. They use camera movement to put you inside the landscapes and draw you into the characters and story. Andrei Tarkovsky and Stanley Kubrick were also masters of the moving camera and abstractness.

  3. 12 Years a Slave (Sean Bobbitt). Contains easily the most powerful single scene of the year with a stationary camera that refuses to blink.

  4. Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel). Muted tones, reflections, noir-ish lighting, I really liked the look of this film.

  5. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel). The reason to see this film is due to the original visuals captured on a fishing vessel using a variety of cameras, many in places you’ve never seen. This film is not for everyone, but I found it visually inspiring.

  6. Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael). Simple, straightforward shots beautifully composed, many of them wide or medium. Shot digitally in black and white.

  7. Her (Hoyte Van Hoytema). The whole visual style of this film stood out for me including the cinematography, production design, costumes, etc.

  8. Prisoners (Roger Deakins). Take the opening shot - it immediately signaled to me an artist was behind the camera. Deakins is of course a legend who continues to put out amazing work.

  9. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth). Very stylized, visually driven filmmaking. The movie itself was too pretentious for me.

  10. Rush (Anthony Dod Mantle). I enjoyed Ron Howard and the DPs restraint here. They favored more classic compelling visuals vs. a bunch of special effects, other directors would’ve likely layered on the VFX to an annoying, period-inappropriate degree. The scenes in the rain in extreme slow motion are gorgeous.

  11. The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd). Wong Kar Wai is a favorite visual filmmaker. I didn’t really like the film, but his visual style as usual stands out.

  12. Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh). Like my last year’s favorite Zero Dark Thirty, it’s sometimes hard to tell if it’s the cinematography or just an actress who photographs ridiculously well (Rooney Mara in this case, Jessica Chastain in the former). For either film I think it’s probably both.

  13. Into the Mind (Eric Crosland and Dave Mossop). 
  14. The Great Beauty (Luca Bigazzi). 

 

FAVORITE PERFORMANCES (IN ORDER)

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  1. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine).

  2. Bruce Dern (Nebraska).

  3. Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis).

  4. James Franco (Spring Breakers).

  5. Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color).

  6. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave).

  7. Joaquin Phoenix (Her).

  8. Christian Bale (American Hustle).

  9. Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha). If you like her check out last year’s Damsels in Distress by Whit Stillman.

  10. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).

  11. Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club).

  12. Hugh Jackman (Prisoners).

 

LEAST FAVORITE FILMS (IN ORDER)

I’ve gotten good at avoiding most bad movies. These are some I saw that though could be good, but ended up being disappointments.

  1. Room 237 (Rodney Ascher). A lot of over-analyzing and posturing. Mostly just ridiculous stretches that I imagine most filmmakers/authors scoff at. Intellectual masturbation for self-important critics. 

  2. The World’s End (Edgar Wright). I did not understand why so many people liked this movie. Just wasn’t that funny and the “twist” at the end was so boring and unoriginal, plus it kept going on and on. I think people shallowly see UK humor plus beer and they think they should like it to be cool? No clue. I like UK-style humor, but wasn’t a fan of this.

  3. In a World (Lake Bell). One of my favorite TV shows is Children’s Hospital (Grey’s Anatomy satire) on Adult Swim, which Lake Bell stars in and has directed. She uses a lot of the comedians from that series here (Rob Corddry, Ken Marino), so I was hopeful. I ultimately walked out. It’s not bad, it just got so formulaic/predictable near the end I lost all interest and did not care what was going to happen.

  4. The Wolf of Wallstreet (Martin Scorsese). This isn’t a bad movie, it’s just nothing special and I couldn’t find any empathy for any of the characters. My bar for Scorsese is too high. Why he needed to tell us the story of Wall Street sleezebag I’m not sure, I think we all get it. At least in Casino you could appreciate the romantic relationship, here everything just shallow excess…across the board.

SOUNDTRACK OR SOUND DESIGN

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis (T-Bone Burnett). I can’t say enough good things T-Bone Burnett and the soundtrack/performances in this film.

  2. Prince Avalanche (Explosions in the Sky, David Wingo).

  3. Gravity. Sound design on these last two really make the movie along with the visuals and are worth calling out.

  4. Leviathan

  5. The Great Beauty (various). Includes one of my favorite pieces by the lesser-known French composer Poulenc, more of John Tavner’s religious choral music (also used by Malick in The Tree of Life), and also a mix of some solid modern dance music.


Still to see: The Wind Rises, Frozen, A Touch of Sin, Afternoon Delight.

Christmas at 10,000ft

Audrey outside the 10,100ft Muir hut on Mt. Rainier’s south side. Click for a larger version on 500px.com

Larger versions of these pictures are on Facebook. Like my Facebook page if you want to see my photography in your FB feed sometimes. 

Audrey and I brought Christmas lights and large battery up to Camp Muir for some pictures to help close out the holiday season and bring in the new year. I carried the 5 pound battery :).

Rock climber turned alpine fashionista. Iphone pic.

I met this astronaut-looking person up around 7,500ft. Iphone pic.

Wind gusts picking fights as the sun sets. Around 9,000 feet. Iphone pic.

Respite from the gusts in the Muir hut.

Decorating for the holidays.

Ran into Olegv getting ready for sleep. Their Nisqually Ice Cliff attempt turned into a Gibraltar Ledges climb after seeing that the route wouldn’t go.

Olegv.

A beautiful night. Spindrift allowing for ray-tracing.

Self-portrait overlooking the Cowlitz Glacier.

More Christmas posing.

Me watching Olegv and his partner make their way up the Gibraltar Ledge route around 5am. Composite of around 15-20 images over ~1.5 hours.

Audrey heading down back to the car. That pack looks big. Iphone pic.