As Rock climbers you would’ve had to have lived under a rock for the last year not to see Climbers against Cancer, or CAC as it is more commonly known spring onto the climbing scene.
CAC tee shirts, hoodies and patches have invaded the internet in unprecedented numbers. Watch a world cup you’ll see it, watch your favorite climbers new clip on vimeo and chances are there it is again. Go to the climbing gym to escape the internet and guess what that girl sitting on the bench is wearing? That’s right, yet another CAC tee shirt!
So what is CAC and why the hype? CAC is the brain child of Englishman John Ellison. Last year John was told that, still in his 40’s, he had been diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer. Now I’m sure most of us at some stage have wondered what we would do if we were confronted with our own mortality? Indeed as climbers many of us have been in the position to confront that mortality, but always on our own terms, by our own choice.
John never got given that choice.
John had a teenaged daughter that was going to lose her father, he had friends all over the climbing world, he had lived his life as a popular well-known figure in the British climbing community. Yet now, in his hour of need he was told there was no cure, it was cancer, it was one of those things and “sorry Mr Ellison, there’s nothing we can do…”
So when confronted by his mortality John stepped up and chose to confront cancer, chose to make a difference. So it came to pass that Climbers against Cancer was born as a charity. The money raised through the charity is being donated directly to research facilities around the world. Every item purchased through CAC raising money to battle the insidious evil which is cancer.
John has worked tirelessly for the charity since it’s inception. Spreading the word about the fight against cancer, sharing the message that although it can be a death sentence cancer is not an excuse to stop living.
Many times I will get messages from John working on some initiative or another, up all hours of the night, unable to sleep from the pain and so carrying on working through it. Knowing I’m working on the magazine and that I’ll be wide awake on this side of the world John will drop me a message, checking how I’m going with the magazine and sharing new initiatives he’s involved in with CAC. One of those has just been announced and I’m here today spreading the word on behalf of CAC.
What people may not realise is that CAC is more than just John. One of the trustees is the young British climbing star Shauna Coxey. Shauna was asked by American Pro Alex Johnson if she would take part in a fun, 50’s pin up style photo shoot. Straight away Shauna was excited about the idea and thought about doing a calendar for CAC, something fresh and original that would get people’s attention.
Working with the photographer Caroline Treadway and the designer Ben Jones the CAC 2014 calendar is the realization of that vision. The result of many, many hours shooting some of the world’s top female climbers the CAC 2014 calendar reflects the beauty and diversity of the climbing culture. The athletes have come together from different countries, representing different sponsors yet all sharing a belief in CAC.
The CAC 2014 Calendar has been announced today and will be available to purchase soon. For more details click through to the CAC website and read about it there. Each of the 12 monthly photos is a work of art in its own right capturing the athletes as you’ve never seen them before.
A huge congratulations to Shauna, Alex, John and all the others who have poured so much of their time into bringing this project to where it is today. Fantastic work guys!
So it might seem to some that all gone quiet with the production of the circuit. The truth of the matter is quite the opposite, the last few weeks have been super busy and although primarily rewarding there has been some obstacles to overcome.
Starting with the good news I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon climbing with the German rising star Alex Megos. Already having photographed him in the Grampians I was excited to catch up and get his thoughts for the magazine. While he was in the Blue Mountains he took the opportunity to come down and sample Sydney bouldering which gave me the perfect opportunity to sit down and have a chat. Alex’s achievements in the sport over the last couple of years have really gotten the attention of the climbing community and seeing him in action all I can say is that he lives up to the hype. Chatting to him though you really get the feeling theres more on offer and I’m comfortable saying that along with Adam Ondra, Alex will rewrite our understanding of human potential in climbing.
Every generation there are a couple of climbers who push the boundaries of the possible and in both hard roped climbing and hard bouldering Alex and Adam are leading the way.
Also in the good news section is that I had the opportunity to sit down with the legendary Chris Sharma for an interview on his philosophies and his aspirations for the Psicobloc comp circuit he is so heavily involved with. Unfortunately there were a bunch of aspects of the Psicobloc comp he was unable to discuss but talking to him and seeing the enthusiasm light his face when he is outlining his plans you know something big is on the way.
Chris was in Australia at the invite of ICP and he gave slideshows in most of the main cities. It’s great to see the industry in Australia getting behind top level climbers and making them available like this, seeing the adoration and excitement it generated in the young climbers who managed to attend is extremely rewarding and if they take away that psyche and turn it into results the future of climbing here will be in good hands. A huge thanks needs to go out to the team at ICP who made this rare event (for Australia) happen.
On the flip side there have been some definite logistical hurdles that have risen up in front of us over the last few weeks. As we get closer to publication I’ve been working hard on finding a viable delivery method for people who purchase the magazine.
From the outset the goal has been to have a high quality, bi-annual magazine in print form that is collectible and will capture where the sport is at the top end currently. This means in the future subscribers and collectors will be able to look back at a snapshot in history, similar to when you pick up the iconic Heinz Zak book Rockstars which captures the sport in the mid 90’s and gives insight into the major players and their achievements and aspirations.
For those wondering we will make a softcopy pdf version available to all who purchase the magazine online as well so they can put it on tablets and laptops to have some portable psyche when the magazine is safely stored at home.
The hurdle that has risen in front of us is that of freight. Domestically the price is reasonable but to ship from Australia internationally costs more per unit than the magazine will retail for. Therefore we need to explore different distribution channels to ensure that the cost of postage doesn’t overwhelm the magazine. At this stage we are looking at freighting stock to the U.K and U.S as well as Australia to distribute but there are still logistical barriers doing things that way. If anyone reading this has a background in freight or publishing and has any advice drop me an email at email@example.com. This issue may delay the release of the first issue but not by much, we were initially hoping to go to print in September but it is now delayed till October for other reasons and the distribution is just another bugbear.
Some hurdles are to be expected when working on a project of this magnitude and the end result will be worth all the frustration of getting the magazine out, now it’s just a case of chasing up loose ends to get everything together for issue 1!