Climbing Red Dihedral, Eldorado Canyon, Colorado

Photograph by John Dickey

“Getting to the top of a climb that you put your heart and soul into is always less satisfying than going through the process of being able to do it,” says climber Jesse Huey, seen here free climbing the challenging Red Dihedral route located an hour-and-a-half hike from his doorstep in Boulder, Colorado. Huey had attempted this route over eight days in January 2013. “When I saw that several holds had been broken, it took way more effort to figure out the route than what I had originally anticipated,” says Huey of the sandstone conglomerate.

Even on cold winter days like this one, it was still too hot to climb in direct sunlight, so timing had to be just right. “Below where this photo was taken was a bit of climbing so difficult that if it was even remotely too hot, your shoe rubber would not stick to the friction of the wall,” recalls Huey, whose climbing partner Josh Wharton was bundled up in down jackets on belay below him. "Then when the shade hit, we had less than an hour to climb before we couldn't feel our fingers."

On the day that he actually completed the climb, Huey went to yoga the night before and spent an hour warming up in the gym before hiking out to the climb. “It actually became very stressful because of a looming raptor closure for the area that went into effect January 31,” says Huey. “I finally finished on January 31. That felt really great.”

Getting the Shot

“I went to shoot Jesse on the Red Dihedral because of its notorious reputation,” recalls photographer John Dickey. “And shooting images gives you the best seat in the house for all the sports action.”

Keeping pace with Huey kept Dickey challenged as he was planning the photographs he wanted to capture. “That day conditions were too hot for success in direct sunlight, which was very fortunate because I got to shoot Jesse trying extra hard, right as the shade line was creeping up,” says Dickey. “I had seen the lighting effect previously on that wall and was hoping the timing would work out as it did.”

After watching Huey work the tough route for a few days, the right elements aligned. “The lighting was all natural and timing alone allowed it to come together. I had sat and watched the shadow line several days before and timed it out with Jesse's ambitions,” recalls Dickey.

Dickey photographed with a Canon 5d Mark II and a Canon 20mm, f/2.8 lens.