Jonas Fredwall Karlsson Composes Risk for Vanity Fair
Perched high above the ground in Yosemite Valley, Jonas Fredwall Karlsson hugged the granite rocks that form the El Capitan formation. Free climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson just recently completed the first climb of the 3000ft Dawn Wall, a sheer route on one of the most difficult climbs on earth. Jonas iis there with a team, including producer Ron Beinner, for Vanity Fair for their Spotlight on these two climbers who risk it all to get a little closer to the sky. Jonas climbed up, standing on the those stone of Yosemite but it was a little different from the rock face the two climbers had scaled where ledges of two inches are considered rest stops. Still, with wind whipping and a vast expanse of sky behind the climbers, it was the bare peak of a mountain.
The image of Caldwell and Jorgeson are part of a larger series by Vanity Fair of Rock Climbers and Adventurers shot by Jonas. This series of 23 images includes bungee jumpers, hot air balloonists, and dogsled drivers. Jonas has noticed a through line shooting people at this level of adventuring. “They’re all obsessed in a way,” he says. “And I think you have to be that at this level of anything you do.” Obsession is a condition that begs risk and offers reward. For those willing to focus and take the steps, only the world is in front of them. Or maybe even more. The next great adventure is a continuing one with unlimited potential: the adventure into space.
Virgin's Galactic program saw the fatal failure of their most recent test flight forcing many to question the intelligence and responsibility of private space travel. Fans are quick to remind skeptics that because of NASA's quickly expiring funding, private space travel may be humanity's best hope to get closer to the stars, and democratizing space travel may be the boon it needs to revive public interest. In their highlight of the ongoing progress of Virgin Galactica, Vanity Fair used a previously unseen image that Jonas had taken of CEO Sir Richard Branson in 2010. Jonas met him on the runway where he took responsibility for Virgin Galactic's future using his own image (and promises to board the first commercial flight with his children). While Branson is wearing a space suit, the whole conceit around Virgin Galactic is an accessible trip into space; all passengers will wear their own clothes. No space suit required. As William Langewische explains in Vanity Fair’s piece, there's still some distance to travel before Virgin Galactic is ready to carry passengers. But Branson is as eager as ever to offer his customers a piece of the sky.