Photographer: Drew Smith
Why is it important for you to vote for wild places?
Voting for wild places is imperative to protect the earth itself, our home. Wild places are not sustainable without our protection and preservation. I want future generations to be able to enjoy and admire open spaces with clean air and water. We need to work together to ensure the health of our ecosystems and the most effective way to do so is through voting. We need to protect our right to be wild.
With the roll back of the roadless rule, what concerns you the most?
The fact that it will be legal for logging companies to build roads and destroy National Forest land is disheartening, especially since native tribes rely on this land to fish and hunt as they have been for generations. Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Earth Island Institute’s Wild Heritage project said “While tropical rainforests are the lungs of the planet, the Tongass is the lungs of North America”. I find it troubling that not only the findings of scientists but also the public consensus and native tribe’s opinions about the Roadless Rule were not taken into consideration. If anything, we should be vastly expanding protected land, not taking it away.
Thoughts on the future of our planet?
What concerns me most is that if we continue to undo our work of protecting these vital ecosystems, climate change will continue more rapidly, and our quality of life will be affected. At 19 years old, I had the opportunity to spend time in the Tongass. I returned for three more summers and that time affected me immensely. I wouldn’t be who I am today without experiencing the forest in its pristine state. I want that for future generations.
Where was this cover shot?
This shot was while climbing Zeitgeist IV+ M7- WI5R on the northwest face of Mount Ball in Banff National Park, Canada.
You’re always multitasking: enjoy the moment, take the image or focus on the climb; does that ever get hard?
For the most part, I find so much joy in capturing moments throughout the day and at this point, photography has become part of the climbing. Sometimes when it’s cold or when I’m exhausted it’s really hard to get the camera out, but I force myself to because that’s when you get the best shots. I feel fortunate to have these amazing experiences and also the images to reminisce on and relive those days.
What made you stop and capture this moment?
I always climb with a small camera attached to my harness or in a backpack, it’s just become a habit while out in the mountains. After finishing a pitch and at the belay, the first thing I do is take my camera out not knowing when I’ll see a good shot. Michelle Pratt and I were just getting ready to follow Quentin Roberts up an ice pitch he had just climbed, when spindrift from above started pounding us. I huddled against the rock and looked down, taking a few shots before we cast off.
How many days were you out?
This was just a long day in the mountains which is the norm while climbing in the Rockies. We awoke in Canmore around 3 am, drove an hour, then started a freezing 3-hour hike arriving at the base of the climb early morning. We bailed off of the climb not far from the summit, knowing it would be getting dark soon. I’m not sure how long the day was but we returned to the car safely with smiles, well after dark.
Climb partners: Michelle Pratt and Quentin Roberts who both live in Canmore, Canada.