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HIGH ART | How climbing photographers get the shots that make us gasp

By Jonathan Thesenga


Tom Evans

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"Marek Raganowicz is a well-known Polish solo climber, and I shot this photo as he climbed past the Nine O'Clock Roof on El Capitan's Zenyatta Mondatta. This was his sixth solo on El Cap, done just after his 50th birthday."
—Tom Evans

TOM EVANS | The Bridge Sergeant

"El Capitan had the climbers and faced in the right direction," explains Tom Evans of his photographic obsession. "I've always enjoyed looking at the Great Rock, so it was a natural choice." Since 1996, the retired schoolteacher, military veteran, and former big-wall climber has spent six to eight hours a day for several months each year on Yosemite's El Cap Bridge, photographing climbers scaling the 3,000-foot wall.

From this position, Evans, 67, has documented epic failures, historic speed ascents, and daring helicopter rescues. "Yosemite's search-and-rescue guys are among the best in the world," he says.

Evans posts his extraordinary images and climber updates each night on his ElCap Report, a blog popular among "cubicle pukes"—his term for desk-shackled adventurers. "Pay attention, Pukes," he writes. "Clear your agenda, and saddle up, because you are riding with Old Tom, on a journey to the very soul of the

Big Stone. You're going to send with the senders and bail with the bailers."

Although Evans makes no profit from his exhaustive effort, he does receive occasional PayPal contributions through his blog and shares frequent hand-delivered six-packs of King Cobra tallboys with appreciative fans on the bridge.

Jonathan Thesenga is the former editor of Climbing. He lives in Salt Lake City.

 


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