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Public Lecture Series with Jim Herrington

The Climbers

Jim Herrington will be presenting his photography book The Climbers, the culmination of a 20-year project to track down and document the surviving legendary climbers of the early-to-mid 20th Century ‘Golden Age’ of climbing. These are the men and women from around the world who were vertically active between the 1920s and 1970s, who were at the cutting edge of an activity mostly unknown to the general public of the time. The stories of these climbers and their era are inspiring and captivating, and Herrington's effort to locate, travel to, and get them in front of his camera includes anecdotes of despair, hilarity and adventure.

Jim will start with a very brief encapsulation of his 35 year photography career, will touch on the history of the individual Climbers pictured, the history of their era in general, and will also discuss the travels and travails undertook to complete this far-flung project.

What is it like to be 98 years old and to look back at an uncompromising life spent in the “useless” quest of first ascents, usually far from home and hearth? The momentum and vigor of youth is not an ideal recipe for introspection, but ones final years certainly suffice. Herrington learned as much about himself as he did his subjects during the project. The cost and reward of obsession, and how to live in the present.

Jim began this series shooting with black-and-white analog film, yet during the course of the project, with the advent of digital photography, it looked as if film would disappear completely—like hemp rope or hobnail boots. Indeed, at times it was difficult to know which would vanish first, the climbers he was photographing or the film he was using. Luckily, film got an eleventh hour reprieve, and he was pleased to be able to shoot the entirety of this book on silver nitrate, which remains his chosen method of taking pictures to this day.

Herrington will recount what it was like to step into these people’s homes, their lives, and their history. Seemingly time-traveling from the classic mountaineering literature he devoured as a young boy into the living rooms of these aging legends, this is his rogue’s gallery, a sampling of, and an ode to, an era.

The Climbers, published in October 2017, received both the Grand Prize and the Mountaineering History Award at the 2017 Banff Film & Book Festival.

Date: Monday, February 26

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid academic ID at the door

Reservation Notes:

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste