The DEPTH Issue: About the Cover

Photographer Zach Mahone with Climber David Roetzl

How long have you been a photographer, and how are you currently finding inspiration in the craft?

I’ve been a full-time freelancer since 2010. It’s been a long journey, and I have shot all kinds of things. For the past couple years, I have shifted my focus away from photography to pursue other interests. I still do photography, however, just in a different capacity. I’m planning on making the switch to mirrorless in the next year or so, and I suspect when I do that my interest will pick back up in the craft.


Tell us about this ice climbing session. What is the location, and why this this area significant to Colorado ice climbing?

East Vail is world renowned for its ice and mixed climbing — particularly because of the level of difficulty in the mixed climbing or dry tooling world, which involves picking the rock directly without the aid of ice. East Vail is home to several large waterfalls, which form amazing frozen waterfalls that are super fun to climb, such as The Fang, The Designator, Firehouse, Pumphouse and many more.


What do you remember about this shoot that stands out to you? What details like the time of day, lighting, angles, etc. helped you capture such awesome images and highlight the depth of this sport and the art of photography?

I owe this image fully to David Clifford and David Roetzl. Clifford is a friend and fellow photographer from Aspen. He was in town shooting longtime Vail local David Roetzl, as Roetzl was attempting a once-in-a-lifetime feat. Roetzl was going to solo essentially every ice climb in East Vail. I forget the exact number, but I think it was over 15 climbs. He was able to do this, because he was soloing, which means climbing without a rope or protection. When soloing, you move a lot faster, as ice soloing is extremely dangerous, and one mistake would cause certain injury if not death.

This was a huge day by any measure. Not only was Roetzl climbing all the routes, but there are a half dozen long approaches straight up a mountain to get to the ice climbs — approaches I accompanied him on. Out of all the climbing I witnessed that day, there was only one moment where Roetzl showed uncertainty and I was concerned for his safety, but he pushed through. It was an incredible feat, and I am honored to be part of that day. This particular image was on a route called The Pencil.