Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rock Magazine - the article.

I was asked to write a report for Rock Magazine.
I did. They didn't want it, and rightly so, it was a re-hash anyway, so here it is reheated and served up again. How embarrassment.

Style report
Readers of know that round here style triumphs over substance. Bookmark it, climber flavoured light infotainment. Fewer climbers get their latest hard ticking news from jjobrienclimbing than any other loosely climbing and fashion related excuse for a promo vehicle on the web. But they do get a face full of over-saturated snaps, gauche graphics and the occasional insight into the inner workings of Australia's climbing legends and crag hopefuls.
It's bright and brash and the text can be read from the top of a Chinese multi pitch, but for those who are unfamiliar, or just have no crimping idea what the blog is on about, I'll tell you what's driving it.
It's the desire to recognise the extraordinary in the familiar. To see the hero in everyone, Numpty to Rockgod. Lee Cujes (Rockgod) put it well, it's "The rockstar treatment for the everyman".

My desire to expose every climber to a wider online audience outgrew the reach of my blog and my camera. And so "I Fucking Love Climbing" the bastard Facebook child of the illegitimate blog was born. The jjobrien photo search team have invested inappropriately long and late hours to digging through YOUR online albums. You thought Google was invasive? If you climb, and you don't want to appear on the run-away success page, then tighten your privacy settings, wet down your firewalls or risk becoming the latest unwitting face of IFLC.
So in case you missed, or thought you had avoided, Queenslands' highest rating year in climbing and style here's a little re-chalk for you.

The female of the species, Monica Wormald, was the late surprise hit on IFLC with this leggy panorama from Kenny's secret crag high above the Rural A hinterland elite zone of Mt. Ninderry.
I was falling up neighbouring Zazen 26 when I spotted Mon unfolding some extraordinary limbs on the steep and nasty Funnel Web 25.
It's a must-do route starting on a broken ledge, in a razor sharp cave, half way up a rotten cliff. Still wanna try it? It's got a Funnel Web too.

Well bouldering photography is a lark. You stand on the ground and press the button, answering the question "Why is the web awash with block shots?".
I've never been able to hang on to the things, so the beach-style team at jjobienclimbing got Nate Foster to bounce some golden rays back off the reflector with his abs.

Issy Morgans-Johnson flexed some serious style strength at Coolum Cave for a sponsor shoot. Always a strong performer on jjobrienclimbing, as she is on the steep stuff.

Tracey Hua, sister Red Phoenix Emporium sponsored climber to Monique Forestier, went dark and dangerous for this shoot on Nitro Glycerin 25
She wears "They Only Come Out at Night" accessories from the Skulls and Crosses collection at
Style cast: What will the top styling climbers be wearing on the rock in 2013? The look will be edgy but feminine, sleek with a hint of darkness. And for the girls - probably Lycra.

The year in review includes climbing, shooting, writing and cooking the Winter away with the Carters as they climb every hard route and document every crag in the corner of SEQ.
Mike Law featured on the blog. In what I expect was an attempt to atone for his ethically bankrupt climbing youth he notched up some honest multi-pitch ticks on two Sunny Coast crags in one talk-drenched day.

And the photographic high point of the year. A few belayers dropped their gri gris when this image hit the screens. Hanging free on a sling from the roof in Cave 5 Tibrogargan, belaying with one hand, shooting with the other as the sun set over Pumicestone Passage. Lee Cujes narrows his focus on the Creationism project.

jjobrienclimbing all started when fellow Queensland cave man and encyclopaedic gear nerd Brad Babel hooked me up with Expedition Equipments' Matt Adams. EE were looking for a Red Chili brand rep, and I knocked together a few posts to shop my wares. Deal. What is less known is the Wild Country link.

So then it happened that on a high friction, low carb, winter day, in the hallowed Cave of Mt. Coolum, Steve Foster  (UK) the marketing director of Wild Country, explained to me that Wild Country, Red Chili and DMM were all owned by the parent company Excalibur Wales. Climbers, you know I love to weave a myth. And with these words to Matt, "Get this guy into some Wild Country gear, we can't have him climbing on that French rubbish" Steve Foster brought Excalibur gently to rest my shoulders. I arose a loyal Knight of the Wild Country. And so, as long as I have strength, kneepads, and a willing belayer, I will spend my remaining years gratefully doing battle in the jaws of the most terrible beasts in every cave across the realm.

And of course, bring back the look. Yours, jj

Photo: Matt Schimke

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Starring Nobody

I took on a touch too much this weekend. Huge group at work, cooking for 150 hungry black belts, rush out for a lap on the project with Lee and Sam, dash to Brissy for photos with The Red Phoenix Style team (AKA my twin daughters), back to work for Ethical Pickles production team (Yaana and Sandra) and more.
Let's just say corners were cut. Things were compromised. Mistakes were made.
But the results were fab.
Celebrity blogger "Starring Nobody" AKA Kirsten Morrison modeled some stunning threads by some totally important designers.
But this is not one of them. Lotus picked up this sparkly number in the op shop for 10 bucks. That's immersion quality clothing. And in she went.

The whole shoot was for the client "The French Peg" a sweet little Paddington boutique.
But this is not that.

Climbers, it's possible you are getting a pre-release peek at The Red Phoenix Emporium collection of necklaces and earrings "Nature in Neon"
This cowboy blogger never checks permissions. No time.


The style team at jjobrienclimbing are totally and utterly impressed with the new collection, seriously I don't know how those girls keep hitting the trend bang on.

Kirsten looks superb in this rig, confirming the fact that an RPE necklace will make a $10 dress look a million. That's a fact.

Snapped between shivering bouts. Kirsten is die hard dedicated to style.

Is the collection online yet? Keep checking Red Phoenix Emporium or drop into The French Peg
2/237 Given Tce, Paddington Brisbane.

There is nothing this girl has not covered in style on her blog
Thank you Kirsten, Lotus, Willow and all for another amazing shoot.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tracey Hua - The Wool and Voodoo Vibe Shoot

The Shoot
Brief: Photograph the i/o merino Crop Top in pure merino wool
Location: Mt. Ninderry - Sunshine Coast Queensland
Model: Tracey Hua
The Route: Nitroglycerin 25, a deceptively steep crimp ladder with a balancey heart breaker to finish.

Tracey wears Crop Top from i/o merino. Shop it here at:

It struck the photographic location team at jjobrienclimbing that Nitro and Tracey would be the perfect collision of route and climber for the brief.
The shoot was fresh of the tail off her Red River Gorge USA trip, and she has returned stronger than ever.
Thanks to Henk Morgans for rope tech support.

Who's that girl?

Brizzy girl, Tracey's exotic looks come from her Chinese/Vietnamese family. You'd think that would be enough to be taken seriously as an Asian. She's always trying, but her friends only seem to see her Aussieness. What does an Asian have to do in this country to get recognition? She says she likes Asian food. We all like that. What else have you got?

She also claims to be a Tom Boy, but that's not flying either.

 Graceful? Maybe. By her own admission, she's clumsy on the ground and "falls over". 
                                     A girl of contradictions.

Beyond the brief: Get in a plug for jjobriens' own "dangerously dark" jewellery design. 
Model wears: "They only come out at night" necklace.
Obsidian and pyrite skulls and crosses, lava stone and dyed turquoise

From the Red Phoenix website:
Guest designer JJ O'Brien has added some dangerously dark pieces to the Skulls and Crosses collection for primitive man and voodoo girls!
They Only Come Out At Night features a Pyrite skull and glossy Obsidian cross with matte black Lava stone and matte black Obsidian skulls. There are five different coloured feature skulls to choose from green, red, orange, bleached or blue turquoise.

  • Tracey Hua for Red Phoenix Emporium.


    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Noosa with Nate Foster

    Location: Boiling Pot - Noosa National Park
    Model: Nate Foster
    Photos: jjobrienclimbing

    I was thinking about Boiling Pot recently. Gritty short cliffs over sensuous worn stones, washed by the sea. I used to climb there when I first started. The place has been photographed to bits in every Noosa coffee table type book but I think there's potential for good bouldering photography. 
    Here's what Nate and I came up with.

    I think a million people or more visit Noosa National Park every year. There's a constant stream of families with boogie boards and towels colliding with each other on the path, as they migrate from carpark to beach to next beach and back.
    Only one or two people visit for the climbing, but the bouldering is quite good and there's trad routes to be had at the southern end of the park.
    Being neither a boulderer nor a traddie I only add to the million every few years.


    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Photos of Bochere Rand

    Getting to the top of the popular posts ladder on jjobrienclimbing has never been easy.
    I can't do it.
    The 4 girls from Urban Climb Gym dubbed Urban Girls clipped that anchor and never lowered off.

    A couple of years later jjobrien lined up Bochere Rand for a follow up post.

    Follow Bochere on Facebook.
    ...If you want daily updates, at dawn, on the first thing that comes into her head.

    Climbers, you know I'm a sucker for a flaming redhead


    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    A Day with Mike Law

    When I first started buying Rock magazine, probably back in '89, like most of you I was in awe of all the heroic characters. Bold, competent, even handsome. But the one who most summed up that period , for me, was Mike Law. AKA The Claw.
    I was guiding a group along the Grand Canyon track in the Blue Mountains one day in the early Nineties and recognised Mike, from magazine pictures, coming the other way. I couldn't believe my luck. A real rock star, live, in person. So naturally I stopped him, and surprisingly he gave me all the time I wanted, chatting about stuff, you know, stuff. And even suggesting I come and climb at the gym where he worked. I don't know where my group got to. I caught them up some time later.
    But, in my mind, I came away with an invitation to climb with Mike Law. The Claw!
    I never did.
    Till one day, recently on a dash trip to the Bluies with Lee, we met again. Vector: Neil Monteith.
    That's me sort of looking smug mixing it up with the big boys.
    I was taken as much by Mike's story telling as his climbing. He's like a TV that's always on exactly the right channel, the imagery is rich, and only just believable.
    So I can scarcely believe all the amazing people I've been hangin with lately. The latest buzz was a day at my local crags with Mike.
    Starting with breakfast.
    We told stories while Sandra roasted coffee from our tree, free range, low food miles, organic, but saddly, tainted with child labour. Grandson Judd helps pick it.

     We had chili eggs on Turkish bread. Fav Saturday morning food.

    Then out to the crags. Starting at Tinbeerwah. Yes, I took the Legend of The Claw to the Slabs of Tinbeerwah. What of it? It was fun. I left my bolt plates at work, so we used wires.
    How embarrassment?
    Then we dropped in at my work for lunch - Nachos and chocolate cake - and down the highway to Mt. Tibrogargan.
    My human guide book, Lee was away in Kentucky, so I sent him a message. What to do with Mike?
    "Remains of the Day" 5 pitch, mixed.
    So here's Mike climbing past the notice declaring the route closed for Falcon Nesting.
    Settle down climbers, don't get your nuts in a knot, the date on it had expired. Mike led first. We swung leads.

    I snapped a couple of shots along the way, on his following pitches.

    The Claw has been credited with the dubious honor of the Mastery of "Jiggery Pokery" in climbing.
    Here he carefully disguises a kneebar from the camera, but this grasshopper sees all.
     So named when Gareth and Ross found human remains on their first ascent. Funny guys.

     I look forward to climbing again with him. And Sandra and I wish Mike and Vanessa the most joy and happiness on their next, most extreme, unpredictable adventure they will ever undertake.
    Call anytime, day or night, if you need help with that one Mike.