Field Notes From
Three Peaks Challenge

<< Back to Feature Page

Three Peaks Challenge On AssignmentArrows

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Joel Sartore

Three Peaks Challenge On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Author

T. R. Reid

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs from Joel Sartore (top) and T. R. Reid


Three Peaks Challenge

Field Notes From Photographer
Joel Sartore
Best Worst Quirkiest
    Physically, this was a difficult assignment for me, but I ended up having a good time because the team of British firefighters I covered had such a good sense of humor. At one point we were driving along these narrow twisting roads and getting knocked around so violently that one of the guys started barfing in a bag in the middle of our hot van. I snapped a couple of photos and asked him later, "Pete, did you know I was photographing you getting carsick?"
    "Yeah," he said.
    "Why didn't you yell at me?"
    "I would have, but I was concentrating on my vomiting."

    The firefighters I climbed with were superfit and almost all in their 20s. I'm neither, so keeping up with them beyond the first five minutes going up or the last ten minutes coming down was a real struggle. Reaching the summit was completely out of the question. On the first two mountains, I gave the guys my camera when they went for the summit. But thankfully, Snowden—the third mountain—had a little train that took me to the top.

    When National Geographic assigned me to this project, I said, "I'm no mountain climber. I live in Nebraska, a place that's absolutely flat. And I live there on purpose. I'm allergic to exertion. Maybe I'm not your guy."
    But my photo editor said, "Just go out and shoot something funny!"
    So I went, and I'm glad I did because I had fun and got challenged. Usually I get eight to ten weeks over the course of a year to photograph an assignment. But this story had to be shot in a single 24-hour period. Even though I did it on June 21st—the longest day of the year—it's still, hands down, the shortest assignment I've ever shot.

© 2003 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe