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Q & A: Avoiding conflicts while photographing on route

One of my favorite (read: the easiest way) to rig up to photograph a climb is by climbing it first.  You can read more about the method here.  The method is awesome because it’s easy, it gets you climbing, and you can find the coolest position/ crux/ move to photograph.  A reader, John, wrote in to ask:

 Enjoyed your piece here on rigging for climbing photography.  I’ve read a lot about this, and am planning to get out and do some shooting from a rope this summer.  I haven’t seen this issue addressed anywhere:  let’s say I want to fix a rope on the anchors of the climb I am shooting (maybe adjacent climbs are in use, too far away, or otherwise unsuitable), won’t my rope and anchor set up be in the way of the climber when he/she reaches the anchors and needs to clip them?  Do you find this not to be a problem, or do you have any tips or workarounds?

Well, John, I’m glad you asked.  The short answer is: Yeah, it may be in the way a little.  I think this kind of comes with the territory, and most friends/ climbers are cool making some concessions to have bad ass photos.  There are some things you can do to minimize the problem though.  Check out the sketch below:

sketch of rigging set up for climbing photography

Here are the items to note from the sketch:
1. The anchor is often times at a stance or easier part of the climb, so the rigging rope is less of a pain.
2. The photographer can at the very least push the line 3-4 feet, or can set up a directional anchor to move away from the route.  What’s important here is the angle between the rigging rope and the climb: with a larger angle, the distance between the rigging rope and the climb will be larger, i.e. the rope will only be in the way at the very top.
3. The rigging rope should be connected to the anchor in such a way to allow the climber to keep into the anchor like normal.  So if there are chains, don’t clip the rigging anchor into the bottom set of chains, or make a central equalized point everyone can clip to.
4. The photographer is not all up in the climbers business at the anchor because he’s essentially done photographing the coolest spot on the climb.

Hope that helps you in your adventure. Stay safe and have fun. ~Eli

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