Interview: Photographer Scott Simper

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

Scott Simper grew up on a horse ranch in rural Utah. He competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I’m still a cowboy at heart,” said Simper, 41, a split-resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Christchurch, New Zealand. This spring, Simper serves as head photographer and videographer for Expedition Hanesbrands. You may not see him in the coverage that comes out of the mountain climb. But as the man behind the lens — and, if all goes as planned, Jamie Clarke’s partner to the top of Mount Everest — Simper has a job that’s among the most demanding of anyone involved with the expedition.

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Scott Simper filming in Kathmandu, Nepal

An Emmy-nominated photographer, Simper travels the globe shooting for outfits as diverse as National Geographic and Red Bull. He has trudged through mosquito-infested swamps in Siberia. He’s scaled Yosemite big-wall rock climbs, 3,000 vertical feet of ascending in a day. Photo shoots have sent him on multi-week powered-parachute flights in the United States and on rappels deep into caves in Sweden.

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Scott Simper on a shoot in Kathmandu

His niche? “Suffering,” Simper said. “If you need someone to put up and shut up, I can do it.” Mount Everest will be one test for sure. Suffering is par for the course living at high altitudes and climbing 8,000-meter peaks. Other recent suffer-fests Simper has endured include shooting for television shows like “Deadliest Catch,” where he hung with fishing crews in big Alaskan ocean waters, and “Ice Road Truckers,” a show that highlights long and dangerous remote trucking routes. One of the trucks he was filming in last year crashed, exasperating a shoulder injury he suffered five years ago when he was crushed by an ice sheet kayaking in the Arctic.

Simper hopes to stay injury free on Everest. He has been training this winter in his backyard, which is the Wasatch Mountain Range of Utah. He climbs peaks in the backcountry and skis from the summits. “I have been trying for 10,000 vertical foot days to prepare for this trip [to Everest],” he said. Years of mountain sports, including skiing, climbing, running, and adventure racing, have tempered his body for the Everest climb, he said. That and the four to five times a week he gets outside to “live the outdoors lifestyle” with his wife, an athlete and mountain guide.

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Simper shooting on the trek to Mount Everest Base Camp

Beyond physical conditioning, preparing for Everest has been a feat of organizing gear and building systems to shoot video and photography on the harsh flank of Mount Everest. Simper brought a half-dozen cameras to Nepal, from a point-and-shoot Leica to full HD-video units. For summit day on Everest, he plans to strap head-mounted cameras on himself and lead climber Jamie Clarke. Cables, batteries, lenses, cases, media, and other photographic items will drape his body the entire ascent. Frozen batteries will come into his sleeping bag at night. On the climb, he’ll wear thin gloves under expedition mitts to undress his hands and deal with tiny buttons. Somewhere near the top of the world, hopefully Simper will turn the camera around and take a shot of himself. He deserves it, no doubt.

—Stephen Regenold will blog live from the Everest Trail this week and through the month of April. Monitor Expedition Hanesbrands’ progress at ClimbWithUs.com and on Gear Junkie at the site’s Everest Blog, http://gearjunkie.com/everest-blog.

Commenting on post : Interview: Photographer Scott Simper
Posted by Rick Beyer - 04/06/2010 12:25 PM

As someone who “trudged through mosquito-infested swamps in Siberia” alongside Scott, I can testify to his amazing work ethic, his inspirational attitude toward life, and his ability to get the shot. If he suffers, he does so in silence. The typical Scott Simper response in a difficult situation is to ask how he can shoulder more of the load so you have to shoulder less. Our Siberia show is on Nat Geo’s Naked Science on Thursday night. Too bad there’s no cable on Everest so Scott can check out a little of his own excellent work.Can’t wait to see what he comes up with on this trip!

Posted by Anna Keeling - 04/21/2010 11:08 PM

Thanks for the kind words on Scottie-all true!
his wife

Posted by Nora Audra - 04/22/2010 03:25 AM

Hey Scottie! Thinking of you and sending all the good vibes! The garden is looking great here in chch…all happy! Miss you a lot! lots of love, Nora

Posted by Jen - 04/22/2010 07:00 AM

Great article, great man.

Posted by Anne Hughes - 04/22/2010 07:39 AM

I enjoyed reading this

Posted by NIcole - 04/22/2010 08:39 AM

Bad to the bone and modest as can be- that’s Scottie.

Posted by Jeff Rhoads - 04/22/2010 09:25 AM

The man in every sense of the word!

May “Mother Goddess” be kind to you on your trip.

Posted by Will Gadd - 04/22/2010 10:23 AM

Keep yer carrots dry Scott! And stay away from the yaks, no need for another call about that.

Posted by Seana Doherty - 04/22/2010 06:30 PM

Sign me up!

Posted by ingrid Larsen - 04/22/2010 07:02 PM

Scottie – we miss you, NZ misses you…..! Come back
x

Posted by Kate Raisz - 04/22/2010 08:03 PM

May blue skies be with you at the top of the world! Thinking of you every day on the expedition and wishing you safe travels. xokmo

Posted by Ryan Hackett - 04/23/2010 02:43 PM

We wish you excellent weather and great health on the climb. The neighborhood is rallying behind you.
Neighbor

Posted by Tom Richardson - 12/25/2012 02:12 AM

Scotty boy –

I’m very impressed. You actually made something of yourself unlike the rest of us Audio geeks. I have always thought you were extremely talented but this is amazing. Great work buddy! I’m proud to say that I know a man of this caliber.

Sincerely,

Tom Richardson

Posted by Jim and Jane - 04/07/2013 12:01 PM

Things looking good in neighborhood – scrub jays, quail, magpies, squirrels, etc.

Will be in Hawaii for couple of weeks, “ascending” Haleakala and “trekking” the decks of Mighty Mo

Best of everything in your current adventure!

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