I’m two metres below the top out of a new 12m E2 route I’m soloing the day before leaving for the Ice Climbing World Cup in Romania when I hear crunching noise to my right. Time slows down and I hear a shout then become aware of a growing shadow, to my horror my mate who was taking photos has lost his footing and he’s screaming toward me. I pull myself as close to the rock as possible and wait for the inevitable fall…….it doesn’t happen. I then notice he’s managed to somehow miss me by millimetres but in his understandable panic he’s done what he thought would save me and grabbed at my chalkbag, the horror rises again but in a split second he realises I’m okay and lets go, I finish the route and we both laugh it off nervously and drive home in apologetic silence.

Thankfully these days I usually only have professional photographers or film makers documenting my routes. In 2009 Paul Diffley of Hotaches Productions took a chance on making a film about a disabled climber and the result was Single Handed, while writing about filming my climbing Diff said-

“All top climbers talk about calculated risk, but Kev pushes the margins of his ‘calculations’ closer to real limits than any other climber I’ve ever seen. It can be terrifying to watch. Even the detachment from the action that comes from being behind the camera does not offer any protection from that terror.”

Reading that gave me a new found appreciation and respect not only for what Diff does but what he was going through on the other side of the camera. Fast forward three years from that statement and I’m stood with Diff at the base of one of the scariest routes I’ve tried. It’s an E7 6b slab 400m above Steall car park in Glen Nevis. Along with us today is Nadir Khan, I’ve only worked with Nadir once before this so he’s kind of been thrown in at the deep end coming along to watch me hopefully send this terrifying route.

It’s days like this when it really matters that the documentarians know their jobs well, everything from rigging and positioning right down to knowing when to be quiet and both Diff and Nadir know their jobs. Unfortunately there is ice on the route and it’s impossible, this is where two of the most important elements comes into play for me working with these guys, patience and understanding. Remembering that not only have they sat in the freezing cold while I tried and failed on the route they’ve also spent time rigging etc, slogging kit up the hill and travelled from far and wide. As I realise it’s not going to happen I feel guilty that their time has been wasted but there’s no pressure from them and that makes a difference.

With some really interesting projects coming up with Nadir I cant wait to work with him again so here are some pictures from the day in Glen Nevis in the meantime……..

[caption id="attachment_5866" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Me standing below Pallor waiting to see if it’ll dry while Nadir snaps some pics and demonstrates the patience needed to try photograph hard routes on high Scottish crags.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5867" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Myself attempting and failing on Pallor (E7 6b)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5868" align="aligncenter" width="450"] I love this picture capturing the dark beauty of Scotland in winter[/caption]

Kev ShieldsI’m two metres below the top out of a new 12m E2 route I’m soloing the day before leaving for the Ice Climbing World Cup in Romania when I hear crunching noise to my right. Time slows down and I hear a shout then become aware of a growing shadow, to my horror my mate who was taking photos has lost his footing and he’s screaming toward me. I pull myself as close to the rock as possible and wait for the inevitable fall…….it doesn’t happen. I then notice he’s managed to somehow miss me by millimetres but in his understandable panic he’s done what he thought would save me and grabbed at my chalkbag, the horror rises again but in a split second he realises I’m okay and lets go, I finish the route and we both laugh it off nervously and drive home in apologetic silence.

Thankfully these days I usually only have professional photographers or film makers documenting my routes. In 2009 Paul Diffley of Hotaches Productions took a chance on making a film about a disabled climber and the result was Single Handed, while writing about filming my climbing Diff said-

“All top climbers talk about calculated risk, but Kev pushes the margins of his ‘calculations’ closer to real limits than any other climber I’ve ever seen. It can be terrifying to watch. Even the detachment from the action that comes from being behind the camera does not offer any protection from that terror.”

Reading that gave me a new found appreciation and respect not only for what Diff does but what he was going through on the other side of the camera. Fast forward three years from that statement and I’m stood with Diff at the base of one of the scariest routes I’ve tried. It’s an E7 6b slab 400m above Steall car park in Glen Nevis. Along with us today is Nadir Khan, I’ve only worked with Nadir once before this so he’s kind of been thrown in at the deep end coming along to watch me hopefully send this terrifying route.

It’s days like this when it really matters that the documentarians know their jobs well, everything from rigging and positioning right down to knowing when to be quiet and both Diff and Nadir know their jobs. Unfortunately there is ice on the route and it’s impossible, this is where two of the most important elements comes into play for me working with these guys, patience and understanding. Remembering that not only have they sat in the freezing cold while I tried and failed on the route they’ve also spent time rigging etc, slogging kit up the hill and travelled from far and wide. As I realise it’s not going to happen I feel guilty that their time has been wasted but there’s no pressure from them and that makes a difference.

With some really interesting projects coming up with Nadir I cant wait to work with him again so here are some pictures from the day in Glen Nevis in the meantime……..

[caption id="attachment_5866" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Me standing below Pallor waiting to see if it’ll dry while Nadir snaps some pics and demonstrates the patience needed to try photograph hard routes on high Scottish crags.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5867" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Myself attempting and failing on Pallor (E7 6b)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5868" align="aligncenter" width="450"] I love this picture capturing the dark beauty of Scotland in winter[/caption]

Kev ShieldsI’m two metres below the top out of a new 12m E2 route I’m soloing the day before leaving for the Ice Climbing World Cup in Romania when I hear crunching noise to my right. Time slows down and I hear a shout then become aware of a growing shadow, to my horror my mate who was taking photos has lost his footing and he’s screaming toward me. I pull myself as close to the rock as possible and wait for the inevitable fall…….it doesn’t happen. I then notice he’s managed to somehow miss me by millimetres but in his understandable panic he’s done what he thought would save me and grabbed at my chalkbag, the horror rises again but in a split second he realises I’m okay and lets go, I finish the route and we both laugh it off nervously and drive home in apologetic silence.

Thankfully these days I usually only have professional photographers or film makers documenting my routes. In 2009 Paul Diffley of Hotaches Productions took a chance on making a film about a disabled climber and the result was Single Handed, while writing about filming my climbing Diff said-

“All top climbers talk about calculated risk, but Kev pushes the margins of his ‘calculations’ closer to real limits than any other climber I’ve ever seen. It can be terrifying to watch. Even the detachment from the action that comes from being behind the camera does not offer any protection from that terror.”

Reading that gave me a new found appreciation and respect not only for what Diff does but what he was going through on the other side of the camera. Fast forward three years from that statement and I’m stood with Diff at the base of one of the scariest routes I’ve tried. It’s an E7 6b slab 400m above Steall car park in Glen Nevis. Along with us today is Nadir Khan, I’ve only worked with Nadir once before this so he’s kind of been thrown in at the deep end coming along to watch me hopefully send this terrifying route.

It’s days like this when it really matters that the documentarians know their jobs well, everything from rigging and positioning right down to knowing when to be quiet and both Diff and Nadir know their jobs. Unfortunately there is ice on the route and it’s impossible, this is where two of the most important elements comes into play for me working with these guys, patience and understanding. Remembering that not only have they sat in the freezing cold while I tried and failed on the route they’ve also spent time rigging etc, slogging kit up the hill and travelled from far and wide. As I realise it’s not going to happen I feel guilty that their time has been wasted but there’s no pressure from them and that makes a difference.

With some really interesting projects coming up with Nadir I cant wait to work with him again so here are some pictures from the day in Glen Nevis in the meantime……..

[caption id="attachment_5866" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Me standing below Pallor waiting to see if it’ll dry while Nadir snaps some pics and demonstrates the patience needed to try photograph hard routes on high Scottish crags.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5867" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Myself attempting and failing on Pallor (E7 6b)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5868" align="aligncenter" width="450"] I love this picture capturing the dark beauty of Scotland in winter[/caption]

Kev Shields