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Blood Moon Bouldering: Climbing Under a Lunar Eclipse

It all started on a quiet Friday morning in the editing studio.

Most of the crew was out shooting next year’s skis and boards, and without the typical chatter, the only sounds in the room were keystrokes and mouse clicks. Then Dan, our lead video editor, leaned over his cubicle and said, “Did you know the lunar eclipse is happening Monday night?” I wasn’t aware, but immediately my brain started doing the thing that signals the beginning of an idea. I responded, “Dan, what do you know about shooting the moon?”

By Monday afternoon the vehicles were stuffed with crash pads and firewood, we had rented a camera lens the size of my thigh, and were heading southwest towards the stark landscape of Utah’s west desert. Three hours later we left the pavement for the deadpan of an ancient lakebed, a surface that is both the color and hardness of bleached bone. We headed towards the western edge of the deadpan, to a red and white quartzite cliff band with a cluster of house-sized boulders beneath it known by climbers as Ibex.

After examining a lunar chart and compass, and making our best guess at where in the sky the eclipse was going to take place, we became concerned that the cliff just behind the boulder field would obscure the latter half of the eclipse. To improve our chances of success, we drove a mile south to a solitary chunk of rock called the Topus Boulder.

The lunar eclipse we witnessed in the early morning hours of April 15 was the first in a series of four total eclipses. This rare event is called a Tetrad, with six months separating each subsequent eclipse. When the lunar eclipse is in totality the moon takes on a deep rust red color, an effect caused by dispersed light from earth’s sunrises and sunsets. Being outdoors under a blood moon is something not to be missed. So check the calendar, go camping, stay up really late, and get your mind blown.

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