Overnight Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

A brief survey of life among the cactus and bouldering rocks, captured on 35mm film

Overnight Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

Author

Matthew Richardson

Photographer

Matthew Richardson

Camera

Canon AE-1

Film

Afga Vista 400

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Matthew Richardson is a Durango, Colorado-based photographer with a special interest in shooting 35mm film. Follow him on Instagram for more.

Over the last two years my friends and I have spent a lot of time in the desert. Mostly Joshua Tree National Park and southwestern Utah. It’s hard to find more suitable weather for being outside than what those places offer most year round. The nights are cold but comfortable, and the days warm and sunny.

There is no time schedule in the desert, no set plans, only things to explore and goals to accomplish. Being a rock climber in Joshua Tree can be both inspiring and terrifying at times. The climbs are bold and brave, and I get shut down more often than not.

The red splitting sandstone of southwest Utah is unlike any climbing destination in the world. Inching your way up these crack systems to see the expansiveness behind you is breathtaking.

"The slowness of film agrees well with the easy pace of life among cactus and rock and little else."

The magnitude of these places can be seen from most any vantage point while exploring. Just look around and you will see nothing but rock extending on forever. They are remote places, with no cell service, readily accessible food, or water. But that’s OK. It’s part of the draw, really. It’s just friends, climbing, and nature. Nothing extra, nothing unneeded.

These pictures are some of my favorites from such desert days. Photos from time spent at the crag, and nights near a campfire under the stars. I love shooting film in the desert—the slowness of film agrees well with the easy pace of life among cactus and rock and little else.

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Published 05-22-2017

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