Chossy cliff climbing
A recent trip to Birdsboro climbing quarry presented a good opportunity to shoot a sport climbing video with my drone.
I was meeting a couple of friends there and had planned on putting together a video of us trying to climb The Streak, a challenging climb on the Big Wall.
When we arrived, the crag was fairly crowded. It made me question bringing the drone. The last thing I wanted to do was disturb people. Nobody wants what sounds like a swarm of angry bees hovering around their head as they climb a cliff.
Fortunately, I shared some mutual friends with the group that was climbing at the Big Wall and everyone was OK with me flying it there. Among the group was Max Snyder, a friend of mine who happens to be a strong climber.
Max has climbed at Birdsboro a lot. I knew he had climbed The Streak before and could easily do it again so I asked him if he would climb it for the drone video.
“Yeah, I’ll climb The Streak,” he said, “I can do it every time.”
Not long later, he stylishly tied into the rope and was ready to climb. People anxiously watched as I prepared the drone. It doesn’t take an expert to know flying close to a cliff surrounded by dense trees presents some challenges.
One of my other friends offered to be a spotter while I flew. Having a spotter in this kind of situation was essential because it’s very difficult to watch what you are recording and avoid obstacles at the same time.
After a few rehearsal flights, I gave Max the cue to start climbing and he took off, practically running up with the wall. It was challenging to keep him in frame. This was a one-take video, I couldn’t very easily ask him to stop and start the climb over.
But that’s exactly what I did after he clipped the anchors at the top of the climb.
A second angle
The drone footage alone would make a cool video, but having another angle from the top would show the climb a lot better.
Max gladly agreed to climb it again, but to get the camera angle I wanted, I had to get to the top of the climb.
The top section of The Streak is a little above my climbing level, but I managed to pull my way to the top by grabbing the permanent chains hanging from the wall.
At the top, I anchored myself to a set of adjacent bolts and hauled up my camera that I put in a backpack tied to the end of another rope.
Once again, I gave Max the cue to climb. He wasn’t lying about being able to do the climb it every time. He managed to easily scale to the top of the cliff in style.