On The Rocks

Professional mountain guide Ben Adkison travels the globe capturing breathtaking and life-risking photography

By John D. Adams

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dangle thousands of feet in the air over a mountain face? Can you imagine emerging after four months of near total darkness to encounter the immense beauty and horror of Antarctica? Adventure photographer and professional mountain guide, Ben Adkison, lives these fantasies every day. He has climbed some of the highest mountains in the world and explored remote sections of Patagonia. He has slept under the desert skies of the Southwest U.S. He has even spent a cold and dark winter in Antarctica. Fortunately for us, he always brings along his camera.

Living the Moment
Adkison’s pictures allow us to see corners of the world we would likely never experience. His bone-deep love and lifelong appreciation of the natural world is dynamically aligned with his agility as a professional photographer and mountain guide. “This is what I feel most comfortable doing,” said Adkison. “Most of the time, I prefer to sleep in a tent than any other place. It’s what’s ingrained in me. When I was a kid, most summer nights I’d pull my mattress out onto the balcony and sleep under the stars. I still prefer it that way.”

He grew up with a camera in one hand, while the other explored the flora, fauna and mountain ranges of Montana. “I picked up my first SLR camera when I was 12,” said Adkison. “It seemed like a natural complement to being in the outdoors. I was surrounded by beautiful things, and photography was a way to remember them. Now it is more than that: It is a way to create moments but also a way to create a moment using light beyond what your eye can see. It’s how I make art.”

These unique experiences and skills give Adkison an edge in capturing hard-to-get images in the world’s harshest environments. “I’m in these unique places doing unique things. Not many people have the skills to stay alive in those places and take photos at the same time. It’s usually one or the other. So I have been able to combine my skills to create images that I hope excite and inspire others.”

See more of Ben Adkison’s work at: www.benadkisonphotography.com, www.facebook.com/benadkisonphotography
All photography by Ben Adkison



American Southwest
“I’d wanted to visit these Northern Arizona canyons my whole life… But you had to go on a tour, which is hard to do when you want to take photos. On a photo tour, our Navajo guide holds back the crowds and you have about a minute to take photos. They throw the sand up in the air so I was able to capture the light beams.”








“September. After the long, dark Antarctic winter, the days are finally full of light, and the continent comes alive again.” As the sun finally rose after 4 months of darkness, Adkison captured this incredible example of the beauty, and ferocity, of nature. This “sea” of frozen starfish is a phenomenon never seen before or since.














Grand Canyon
“My dad used to write hiking books for the Southwest United States, including hiking the GrandCanyon. After he died, I started to revise and update his books. I took this series of pictures while on one of those excursions.”














“Mountain Trip is a company I do a lot of work for around the world. This is my boss traversing Telluride’s Via Ferrata (iron road). You clip into these metal cables and climb around the route. I’ve become more interested in adventure sports photography, so this was a really fun photo shoot.”














“In May, the darkness finally sets in. There isn’t much light left during the day, and the wonders of the night (or day, depending on how you look at it) really start to show themselves. This is by far my favorite and most popular photo from the thousands upon thousands of images I took during my 410 days in Antarctica.”





On The Rocks