Art Game 48- Canyoneering Monmouth Creek, British Columbia, Canada


Photograph by Francois-Xavier De Ruydts

“This was just one moment of a challenging descent down 16 rappels with rushing waterfalls, nature-carved rock slides, and cliff jumps,” says veteran canyoneer Damien Briguet, whose dozen years in the sport include six working professionally out of Switzerland. “The water below was nice, but really cold—just ask the fish in the pool!” Briguet is seen in the “cave” of Monmouth Creek, located just outside of Squamish and about an hour north of Vancouver, British Columbia. “I’m part of a small canyoneering community in Vancouver. This is a new sport in western Canada, and we are all really excited to discover more wet canyons.”

Getting the Shot

Photographer Francois-Xavier De Ruydts met Briguet for the first time just a few days before the duo decided to explore the undescended Monmouth Creek. “That’s what exploration is about,” says De Ruydts. “Basically, you don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going. Nobody knows what’s around the corner. Exploration of canyons is a [huge] commitment—most of the time, the only way out is down.”

He calls Monmouth “a real natural wonder” with “16 rappels ranging from 5 meters to 45 meters. As the bird flies, it is no more than 500 meters long, but the elevation gain is about 600 meters. It is a very steep canyon.”

The first full descent took a total of two days. “Managing your camera exposure is a nightmare in canyons. The water is almost pure white, the wetsuits are almost always black, and [the space] is often not more than ‘not very dark,’ says De Ruydts. “I shot this image from a very, very tricky spot. I was attached to my rope, standing in a super-slippery toboggan, which had been carved by water. The tripod was standing on this almost vertical rock and attached to my harness … that was pretty uncomfortable.”

De Ruydts photographed with a Nikon D700 and carried a Nikkor f/2.8, 24-70mm lens and a Nikkor 50mm lens.


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