Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.

Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.
My 2014 calendar was entirely photographed on the western side of New Zealand's Southern Alps. "Land in the West" is printed at a size of A4 with twelve calendar month pages displaying stunning outdoor environment photographs. Take a look at my Facebook page to view all twelve 2014 calendar images! Order here via Paypal or email me at zakshawphotography@gmail.com if you would prefer to pay with online banking. Thanks for your support!
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Paparoa National Park - A traverse of its southern range

Mt Lodge, Paparoa National Park - Image - Zak Shaw
Inland past the popular tourist stopover of Punakaiki's pancake rocks lies the buckled Paparoa Range. The granite and gneiss rocks of the range are some of the countries oldest forming a seemingly impenetrable band of craggy peaks. Beech forest, alpine flora and tussock blankets the slopes of the range and is frequently cloaked by lingering cloud. On average 8000 millimetres of rain falls annually. Towering bluffs, abrasive scrub faces and deeply gouged cirques are the cause of hesitation for the roaming tramper.

Alpine ridge travel - Image - Zak Shaw
Few formed routes exist in this part of the country. Those that exist do so on the park's relative periphery. An adventure into the interior proper requires determination, sound navigational skills, a goat like climbing ability and the confidence to make your own tracks.

During our five day visit we would attempt a traverse of the ranges southern extent. The distance would stretch to around 45km starting near the settlement of Barrytown and finishing at the Bullock Creek road end and the Cave creek submergence.
As part of the Taipotini Polytechnic Leadership and Guiding certificate program I was employed with tutor Keith Riley to educate students in the bush/alpine environment and manage the overall safety of the adventure. The Taipotini students planned the week down to every ration and caloric intake. Chunky pound of butter size energy bricks were dispersed along with precisely measured bags of meals, cookers, pots, tents and maps.

Image - Zak Shaw
The route from sea level near Barrytown climbed 1100m before the tracks burst clear of the bush-line.
Our first contact with snow came with light flakes falling a mere 300m above sea level. Unfazed and confident in the forecasted weather report we continued on over the summit of Mt Ryall and made a left turn onto the Paparoa Range. That evening we camped as night set in below an unnamed trig station. The temperature plummeted when the sun dipped below the ocean and dinner was cooked at a temperature of minus eight degrees.

Day two sunshine and pleasant tussock travel -  Image - Zak Shaw
After a brutally cold start things warmed up during our second day. The open beech forest leading to the gradual rollover of Mt Anderson was highly stimulating terrain as the forest floor came to life. An undisturbed canopy sat quiet with shards of light illuminating the supernatural. 

Imaginary scenes - Image - Zak Shaw

Image - Zak Shaw
We skirted an escarpment that climbed above the Punakaiki River. Sections of our route dropped away several hundred metres to the valley.

Image - Zak Shaw

Mountain Nei Nei or Dracophyllum - Image - Zak Shaw

Image - Zak Shaw
Open ridge-line travel in dispersed with mature open forest lead our team over the summits of 'Mt Hawera', the 'White Night' and 'Mt Pecksniff' A chilly southerly wind stripped our heat away at every pause in travel. Movement on the lee of the ridge often meant sun, no wind but scrub fighting travel. On the windward side shaded aspects were markedly cooler but flowed well with long uninterrupted sections of clear forest. Travel speeds averaged 1km/hr.

Image - Zak Shaw
After another eight hour day camp three was chosen in haste. From high on the ridge we descended into a creek as the sun set magnificently over the Tasman sea. Despite first impressions with a little work we jammed six tents onto every square cm of useable ground.  Although brutally cold it turned out to be one of our best nights sleep.
Image - Zak Shaw

Climbing on positive holds. Image - Zak Shaw
From between 1240m and 1210m spot heights a freezing wind funneled into our camp. We packed as quickly as possible before climbing back to the ridge. The most demanding terrain came at us on day four. Negotiating sections of exposed rock and steep razorback aretes required long spells of concentration and route finding. By 3pm we had climbed under a steep headwall and rounded over a south facing snow covered pass. At 4 we dropped into a sunny camp with fantastic views of Mt Lodge and the extremely rugged massifs of the northern Paparoa's.  

Keith Riley chillin out in camp 4
Image - Zak Shaw

Grace Fleming and Adrian Butler enjoy an amazing alpine sunset.
Image - Zak Shaw

Mt Lodge - Paparoa National Park
Image - Zak Shaw
At 6.30am our final day began and we hustled to break camp. The walk along the remainder of the range towards Mt Bovis began at 8am with another clear sunny day in store. Some of the most consequential sections of travel confronted us in this final leg. Steep terrain required sure footing and patience. Nine hours later we dropped out of the bush arriving at the Bullock Creek car park.

Taipotini Polytechnic students at the col between 1236m and 1216m

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Foscused - http://www.rapidmag.com/rapidmag_fall11/

Canada's Rapid Magazine profiles whitewater photographers in a feature titled
"Whitewater's Greatest Lenseman"
Click on the link below to check out the twelve who made the cut!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Grand Canyon! The carnage and rescues!

As a first time Grand Canyon permit applicant Wayne Parks got lucky. People wait years for a chance to run “The Canyon” An expert Alaskan fisherman by trade Wayne may think like a fish but he certainly isn’t one. A complete river virgin Wayne had never paddled on a river and was missing one key skill, the
ability to swim!

Image - Graham Charles
Image - Zak Shaw

Wayne’s invite list of sixteen filled quickly with people who could rescue him. Close friendships forged in Alaska accounted for seven with the other nine being found in New Zealand, New York and Germany. Stefan the sole German along with the New Zealanders secured a spot by being both a good friend and a person who possessed the river skills necessary to complete the journey. They were the rowers. Others were selected on the basis of beauty and charm! 
Our team came together on the 13th of April and began the 227-mile (446 km) river trip.  Containing roughly 200 miles of flat water and 25 miles of rapids the Colorado River from Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry is not all about whitewater. The combination of length, dessert hiking, humbling geological formations, isolation and fantastic campsites separates the Grand Canyon from other river trips.

John Wesley Powell along with ten men and four boats set out from Green River in Wyoming on May 24, 1869. Their journey was fraught with hardship and uncertainty. On August 13th they emerged from the canyon less in number in the two boats they had remaining.
Many of the feelings John Wesley Powell experienced during the first descent are similar to those felt by river runners today. Although every bend, side canyon and riffle has been named, graded and published since then people will always have a sense of dropping into “The great unknown” Around every corner lies adventure and discovery.

Our flow released each day from dam reservoirs upstream accounted for 16,000 cfs. This was a good healthy level creating fluffy grade three rapids and slowly moving calm stretches. April is generally cooler than the summer months and is typically windy. On only two of our twenty one days on the river did we have to fight against a breeze for downstream movement. Storms threatened but never eventuated.
Life was simple. Get up early, get on the water early, get off early, hike, photograph, play the guitar, drink beer, eat dinner and watch the night sky before doing it all again tomorrow!
Although simple our time on the water each day was not uneventful!

Stefan one of the hired river professionals missed the green tongue through “Badger” Possessing a relatively straight forward line from top to bottom “Badger” is graded a five on a 1-10 rapid whitewater grading scale used within the Grand Canyon. A massive river hydraulic cast the raft precariously onto one edge throwing a passenger. Stefan himself was jacked free and swam the majority of the remaining whitewater.
Wayne woke each day determined to run the gauntlet. Coached by others his river reading and rowing progressed quickly to the point where rowing “everything” became the goal.
“Sphincter” rapid was to be his nemesis. Laterals curling and crashing off the river right wall lifted the poorly aligned raft. Sitting side on to ocean like barreling waves it all happened in slow motion. Accepting fate Wayne grasped the rafts perimeter line with his Halibut hauling fingers and stayed with his craft. After stripping the raft of gear and flipping it upright we continued on.
Image - Ben Jackson
We didn’t have long to ponder our carnage.

Image - Dan Kowalski

“Bedrock” rapid presented a new challenge. A raft wrapped mid-stream alerted us to the problems of another party. Two of our party replaced one stranded oarsman sitting atop the raft. For the remainder of the day our team first stripped all of the rafts equipment before attempting to haul it off the rocks with a huge mechanical advantage system. The owner of the prototype foam raft (instead of an inflated floor and pontoons) just happened to be carrying 300ft of brand new static rope still on the coil! Our efforts were not rewarded however and the park service helicopter was called in equipped with a gas-powered winch to complete their rescue.

Image - Dan Kowalski

Image - Graham Charles
 “Lava Falls” the Grand Canyons most famous whitewater threat lay waiting.
Upon our arrival another private group in smaller 14 footers were untying their tethered rafts from trees on the river left bank. Our team had decided to scout from a higher vantage point on river right and in seeing the others getting ready for their descent we rushed to watch their lines through. Running to the overlook above Lava we watched the first raft leave the eddy, drag left on a bubble line and hit square on through a series of crashing waves. The first raft clearly missed an enormous ledge hole in the center of the river. What unfolded during the following two minutes is incomprehensible.

Image - Graham Charles

The second raft attempting to follow the first drifted slightly right of the intended left line. Realising the problem the oarsman hauled frantically back to the left clipping the edge of the ledge hole but making it through. Raft number three like a lamb to the slaughter was further right than both boats one and two and appeared completely unaware of its fate. The oars did not move and there seemed to be no plan. Rolling over the final wave crest the occupants of raft three got the shock of their lives. The force of Lava engulfed the raft stopping it in its tracks. Raft number four piled in on top of it and both began a wild cycle of flip and rinse. Its passengers were removed immediately and begun their long swim downstream. Rafts five, six and seven arrived shortly after smacking into the depths of the hole like lemmings. As the last raft was released and send on its way I glanced in the direction of our team members. Tears, crying and expressions of utter shock blanketed peoples faces. There was true concern for the other team. The river was littered with upside down rafts and the heads of swimming people.

 Image - Graham Charles
After a quick “meeting” our crews prepared for their own descents. Having witnessed the worst case scenario multiple times our rowers focused hard. Big pillows of water reared above our heads threatening a flip. Our river running expertise shined through with all six rafts hitting the big water line down the river right side with precise angles and strong strokes. Celebrations were short lived as our six rafts gathered together in the flat stretches below.  Uncertain of the fate of the other party we continued on in an attempt to help their situation. One stranded swimmer was gathered from river left and two rafts were discovered floating upside down in eddies. Our team re gathered everything we could and set out in chase of the missing people. Five miles downstream we finally reunited with the group.
In surprisingly high spirits and in all in good health we were showered by generosity and thanks. Wine, beer and bourbon were all gifts received in appreciation.
Image - Graham Charles

Image - Graham Charles
Twenty-one days in the canyon feels like a real escape from the outside world. Days spent roaming side canyons; floating below towering walls and relaxing in camp remove your mind from things material. “The Grand” strips everything away casting a spell on each visitor. It reminded me of what matters most. Many times I felt a huge appreciation of the natural environment. The size of the landscape overwhelmed me and inspired my thinking. With good people around me my life was alive.

If life ever offers you a chance to go make it happen!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life is good on the Cal Salmon! Zak Shaw Photography

Why leave? This is the question, flows in the Salmon River have been incredible. 
Maybe I'll stall another day.....
Close up and tight on the action!
Daan Jimmink South Fork Gorge, Salmon River
Image - Zak Shaw

Daan Jimmink lifts over a small boof ledge on the Salmon Rivers north fork run.
Image - Zak Shaw

Ben Jackson makes his move high over a flat ledge in "Cascade" 
Salmon River
Image - Zak Shaw

Jess Matheson perfects the "mid air edge change" and gets ready for landing.
Image - Zak Shaw

The South Fork Gorge is one of the premier runs in the Salmon drainage.
With a flow of around 4300cfs the trip is fast paced and fluffy! In action Daan Jimmink busts through a beefy guard wave and sets ups for the bottom hole.
Image - Zak Shaw  

Local Paddler and icecream manufacturer - Scott Harding
Image - Zak Shaw

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Adventure Sports Journal Grand Canyon. Written by Haven Livingston, photo credit Zak Shaw

‎[caption id="attachment_2665" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A mid morning stop at the massive Redwall Cavern. Photo: Zak Shaw"][/caption] Of the many warning signs at Lee’s Ferry put-in for the Grand Canyon, one is missing: Caution! Following this river may c...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Powell's "Great Unknown" Arizona and the Grand Canyon

"A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep"

The Grand Canyon should be firmly stamped on any outdoor enthusiasts to do list. Fortunately I did not have to wait ten years for my name to be drawn from the hat. Instead I was invited by Wayne Parks an expert Alaskan fisherman, fastidious beer brewer, whisky connoisseur and greener than green yet river runner who cant swim. Eight months after the invite was accepted I took my first strokes of the oars. 

Thanks Wayne for an amazing trip!
Enjoy the images.
If you get a chance to see the Grand drop everything!

Slow shutter release after dark. During our first week beaming moonlit nights made for great images and motion blur. Image - Zak Shaw
 Image - Zak Shaw
Contrasting color to burn
Image - Zak Shaw
 The Colorado's flow is heavily silted. PK finds a fresh rinse in Clear Creek
Image - Zak Shaw
 Mary Harrop drops into "Hermit" and finds some surf. Image Zak Shaw
 Jo Parsons with Wayne Parks as ballast hit a monster feature in "Hermit"

 Jo Parsons keeps the arms ticking over.
Image Zak Shaw

 Image - Zak Shaw

Mary Harrop finds room in Deer Creek
Image - Zak Shaw
Sally Birchall peers around a water carved corner on one of the canyon's fantastic side hikes.
Image - Zak Shaw
Getting up high reveals the immensity of your surroundings.
Image - Zak Shaw
Havasu Creek - Grand Canyon
Image - Zak Shaw
Graham Charles, Havasu Creek
Image - Zak Shaw
Hard work paying off. TL Wayne Parks learning how to take it easy. 
Image - Zak Shaw
Ben Jackson buries his cargo. They lived....
Image - Zak Shaw