Photos celebrate lifesaving outdoor gear

A new exhibition of photographs at Gallery 22 pays tribute to the gear that gets us outside and keeps us safe while we're there.

A new exhibition of photographs at Gallery 22 pays tribute to the gear that gets us outside and keeps us safe while we’re there.

Artistic team Gary and Brianne Bremner say their love of adventure sports and the tools that go along with them inspired the show.

“Everybody that does these things knows what it’s like to have these pieces that you become attached to. They’re a part of your life as much as the mountains are,” said Gary.

“It is just a crampon, but it allowed you to climb 16 pitches of ice in the mountains somewhere.”

A small, toonie-sized piece of climbing gear called a cam holds a special place in the pair’s hearts.

The tool is used as a safety device when climbing rock faces that don’t have hardware already attached to them.

The spring-loaded piece of metal can be jammed into a crack in the rock, and acts a bit like a barbed hook to secure the climber’s ropes to the rock face.

The climber will continue to add cams to the wall as they ascend, depending on the last one they inserted to catch them if they fall.

A few years ago, Brianne and Gary were climbing near Kelowna, B.C., when a tiny cam came between them and potentially serious injury.

Gary was climbing above Brianne when he slipped and fell. The yellow cam below him, the last he had placed, malfunctioned and popped out of the crack, but still, somehow, managed to catch his fall.

“I fell, and it popped, so it didn’t do it’s job, ‘cause I screwed it up, but it just happened to hang on a piece of rock that was sticking out, and it got caught,” said Gary. “Otherwise I would have been like 200 pounds of wrecking ball on top of her.”

“Woulda sucked,” interjected Brianne. “But it was one of those things that just happens, and afterwards, when you get down and you’re shaking, and you take your gear down as you go down and you’re like, this … that’s what held your body up.”


That small piece of gear was a special guest at the couple’s post-climb celebrations.

“That night, we kind of shut down after that and were like, ‘Screw this, let’s go get some food,’” said Gary. “And we took it for dinner and it sat on the table with us while we ate and I dipped it in my beer.”

Both the cam and the rope that the Bremners used on that climb are featured in their photography exhibit.

The show takes gear from climbing, mountaineering, paddling, cross-country skiing, running and cycling and challenges the viewer to look at them in a new light – to see them for their function but also for their beauty.

The photographs bring the viewer fa ce-to-face with the gear – close enough to see the colours, the lines, the textures and the signs of wear and tear.

The artists strove to get close enough to the objects that the photographs wouldn’t look like product advertisements, but not so close as to lose sight of the object as a whole.

Some of the gear comes from the Bremner’s own stash, some pieces were borrowed from friends.

“It’s all local gear, local people, climbed and used in the local mountains,” said Gary.

A crampon featured in the exhibit might soon reach the summit of Mt. Logan, he said.

These days, the Bremners play with photography gear more than adventure gear.

But that’s OK with them, for the most part.

“Whether it’s outdoor gear or photography gear or whatever, I like stuff,” said Gary.

Plus, the exhibit gave them an excuse to buy some new gear – a macro lens, designed for extremely detailed close-ups.

“He’s like, ‘Well, I need to shoot this show, so clearly we need to buy this lens,’” teased Brianne.

The framed prints are on sale for $250 each. Gear Room runs though April 6 at Gallery 22, on top of Triple J’s Music Cafe.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at