Powerful Portraits of a Climber Holding On by His Fingertips
For the uninitiated, rock climbing is a grueling, challenging activity where individuals climb up, down or across natural rock formations, or in urban areas, mock rock walls. The point most of the time is to get to the top of a formation or the endpoint of a route without falling. To complete a climb successfully, one is required to go back to the starting point or the base unharmed.
Often, because of the climb’s duration and tiptop endurance required of participants, accidents occur on the decent rather than the ascent. Rock climbing competitions typically have the goal of either completing the route in the fastest time or achieving the farthest point on a progressively hard route. For sure, rock climbing is a physically demanding and seriously tough sport, and because of the heights involved, is certainly not for the faint of heart.
The series Climbing gives us an intimate look into the vicious demands rock climbing places on its enthusiasts. It is a visually remarkable series shot by photographer Sebastian Stocker that features a perilous and frightening aerial perspective of a rock climber gripping urgently onto a rocky ledge. His hands are characteristically covered in the essential chalk powder, used to acquire a firmer grip in this sport. The fellow is seen literally hanging on for all he is worth, and his fingers surely take a beating handling most of his weight. Stoker manages to capture the rock climber’s tenacious determination to hang on in every image.
Climber’s finger is one of the most prevalent climbing injuries one can get in the sport of rock climbing. It is brought about by an overused injury that does not get rest or at least a brief respite. It typically manifests in a swollen middle or ring finger because of a damaged flexor tendon pulley. It is specifically caused by trying to support your body weight with one or two fingers, as seen in the photos from the Climbing series.
Prolonged climbing on an injured finger may have the consequence of increased downtime to recover. By getting up close to the climber’s hand and keeping the rest of his body inside the frame, Stocker creates a disconcerting shot of a man at the mercy of his fingertip strength. It is no doubt exhilarating, while simultaneously filled with anxiety as we grimace at the sight of those tortured fingers.
Climbing graphically illustrates that rock climbing is a physically and mentally severe sport that tests a climber’s endurance, strength, agility and balance along with mental control to its outer limits.
See Stocker’s view of Climbing over on his Behance page.