Author Archives: Mark Weber

About Mark Weber

Mark Weber is a Twin Falls resident who has been photographing and writing about the outdoors and adventure for more than two decades. Clients include Climbing, The Creative Company, Alpinist, Rock & Ice, Outside, Kayak Session, Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer, Black Diamond Equipment, and Werner Paddles. See more at www.markweberphoto.com

Standing on the Snake

On the river, we dip our paddles into the reservoir’s slack water and head upstream into a stiff breeze. We make good progress on our standup paddleboards (SUPs) and soon leave powerboats and fishermen behind. The canyon walls narrow and become steeper as the calm water gives way to the river current once again. On our left, a hundred-foot-tall waterfall pours over the canyon’s rim. Ahead of us lies a bizarre landscape of sculpted and bleached white rock. Because it’s late summer and a dry year, the once mighty Snake River has been lowered by irrigation, reduced to a serpentine channel carved into the bedrock of the canyon. Still paddling upstream, we navigate the channel, which is barely ten feet across in places. Springs feed small cascades that spill over the rock walls and into the river. Finally, the river becomes so constricted that we pull the SUPs onto dry bedrock and consider our options.

As a photographer with an appreciation for adventure and nature, I spend much of my time exploring Idaho’s outdoor and recreational opportunities. Last year, as summer was quickly drawing to a close, I wanted to take advantage of one more weekend of warm weather. Figuring a river adventure would be a fitting close to the season, I made a couple of calls, to my son Elijah and daughter Jessica. They were eager for an adventure and we agreed to explore the Snake River on SUPs. Our plan was to paddle thirty to forty miles of the Snake in south-central Idaho while visiting some of the more iconic attractions along its course. Continue reading

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Climbing the Waterfall

The sheer rock walls of the Snake River Canyon are laced with sinewy waterfalls during temperate months, but with the onset of winter and plummeting temperatures, these delicate cascades freeze. Taking on the form of veined curtains of glass and columns of crystal, this transient world becomes a frozen palace where the ice climber reigns.
For more than two decades I have sought out the bizarre adventures of this fragile kingdom, and I’m not alone in pursuit of it. Other climbers also have been visiting these ice formations for years, and these days I often am accompanied by my son Elijah and various friends, such as longtime climber David Weber, to whom I’m not related except in our passion for climbing ice.

“Ice climbing? It looks crazy to me. Too dangerous. No offense, but I think you are truly insane.”

How many times have I heard that argument from casual observers? And on some level I have to agree. Continue reading

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On Slick Rock

Twelve miles east of McCall, hidden in the folds of the Salmon River Mountains, lies one of Idaho’s most coveted long-climbing objectives—the thousand-foot-tall sweep of solid granite known as Slick Rock.

Here on a sunny summer day in 1967 three local climbers, Harry Bowron, Jim Cockey, and a man named Dorian (whose surname the others could not recall), set out to scale the imposing east face of this monolith. In a landscape where mountain peaks scrape the sky, deep valleys rend forested slopes and crystal clear streams tumble over boulders, this colossal swath of granite rises almost a fifth-mile and stretches nearly a half-mile in breadth.

In the nearly half-century that has passed since this first ascent of Slick Rock, the adventure and climbing experience remain much the same. On a morning in July 2011, the sun is shining brilliantly overhead as we hike the hillside that leads up to the wall. The rushing stream in the valley below echoes off the surrounding slopes, while the trail splits a thick carpet of wildflowers and verdant shrubbery. Two of our party of four have been here before, while the others are making their first pilgrimage to a “big” climb.

A gentle breeze sweeps through the towering pine forest, rustling branches, and I sense a few butterflies also rustling in stomachs. From this vantage, the sea of granite that looms above is intimidating if you have never been on a big route before.

The upper two-thirds of the wall are punctuated by three staggered, ascending cracks that split the pavement of solid stone for more than six hundred feet. These “triple cracks” seemed to provide a logical path to the summit for the first ascent party. In the late Sixties, the only reasonable possibility for protecting a climbing team on Slick Rock’s blank and seemingly featureless terrain was pitons hammered directly into these fissures.
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