Bold, colorful portraits of climbers in Utah and its neighboring states

Not many photographers bother to cultivate relationships with their home crags the way Garrett Smith has. While he’s shot in Spain, Morocco, Israel, and across North and Central America, Smith has done some of his best work at Little Cottonwood Canyon, just 15 miles from his hometown of Salt Lake City. Instead of pros, most of the climbers in Smith’s photos are his friends, who he says are more motivated to work for the shot.

“I always prefer to shoot trad climbing, but will shoot anything that the athletes [are] inspired by; the athlete loving what they are doing speaks through the image more than any style, route, or place,” Smith told me by email. For his part, he often plans weeks ahead for photos, and has had close brushes with injury from shredded ropes, rockfall, and “scary 5.9 soloing” while on shoots.

I’ve been a fan of Smith’s work ever since I saw one of his pictures in Rock and Ice. It’s refreshing to see such a strong photographer shooting the rock and people he’s close to.


Unnamed route (5.13a)

Kenneth Adams on LCC's newest 5.13a Unnamed route (5.13a) Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT


Unnamed offwidth (5.11a)

Jai Dub Hackett not backing down from the wide stuff Unnamed offwidth (5.11a) Underworld, UT


Wheat Thin (5.7)

Sarah Mannion crushing her first trad lead Wheat Thin (5.7) City of Rocks, ID


Unnamed FFA (5.11a)

Thirsten Noflex drilling on lead Unnamed FFA (5.11a) Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT


Unnamed FFA

Thirsten Noflex still full of energy after Washer Woman Tower Unnamed FFA Canyonlands National Park, UT


Cloudwalker (5.10a)

RD Tucker high up early in the morning Cloudwalker (5.10a) Snow Canyon State Park, UT


Touchup (5.9)

PJ Mannion, runout and loving it Touchup (5.9) Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT


Cut Loose (5.11a)

Grace Rich sniffing roses Cut Loose (5.11a) Red Rocks State Park, NV


Blue Steel (V9)

Scott Epperson not wanting to swim. To get this shot, Smith strung a Tyrolean traverse (a suspended rope used to cross an obstacle) over the river, and lit Epperson and his spotter with remote strobes. Blue Steel (V9) Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT


Crescent Crack (5.7)

PJ Mannion & Jai Dub Hackett make the most of a spring night Crescent Crack (5.7) Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT