UKC/UKH Photography Awards 2023 - Winners

Rob Greenwood UKC 15th March, 2024

UKC and UKH are proud to announce the winners of The North Face & Ellis Brigham Photography Awards 2023.

In February we announced our finalists, which represented the top five photos in each category based on votes throughout 2023. We then wiped the slate clean for voting to take place on who was the overall winner within each category, and that's what we have here - the best of the best.

Alongside this we have a hand-picked selection of Overall Winners, courtesy of photographer, author and writer Dave Parry. Dave's book, Grit Blocs, outlines the 100 finest problems on Pennine Gritstone and is an absolute must for any UK based boulderer. He also publishes a fantastic weekly newsletter in the form of Pennine Lines.

For more information on Dave's work visit:


Winner of the Bouldering Category: Night Bouldering at Pednvouder Beach, by Matt George (@cornwallbynight)

Matt said:

This photo allowed me to combine two of my great passions - climbing and astrophotography.

The south-facing Pednvounder beach, as well as being a strong contender for the UK's most beautiful beach, also is perfectly aligned for a variety of milky-way photos throughout 'core season', as astrophotographers call it (when the galactic centre of our galaxy is above the horizon at night, roughly March to September in the UK).

This particular outcrop is a steep wall of granite which forms one side of a narrow cleft, or 'zawn', as we Cornish call it. It is home to a couple of steep trad routes, as well as some boulder problems.

The photo is a composite, and is the result of blending a variety of photos, all taken with the same camera and lens, and from the same position. First, twenty shots were taken of the sky, with an exposure time of 8 seconds, to capture as much light in the night sky as possible. These are later 'stacked' to reduce the inevitable digital noise that results from long exposure, high ISO photos.

For the foreground (including myself), I illuminated the scene with my head torch. I then climbed the first few moves of the problem and froze, as best I could, as once again the exposures were several seconds long.

It became a serious endurance training session after repeated efforts to get a good pose. In particular, the left hand was a pretty poor sloper!

Thanks to everyone who voted for the photo. I'll try and cook up another astro/climbing photo this 'core season'. 

Winner of the Expedition and Alpine Category: Abbing off the summit block of the Salbitschijen, by Ed Wheatcroft 

Ed said:

This photo was the icing on the cake of an absolutely brilliant day on the Westgrat. Getting the sun lined up with the pinnacle was a complete coincidence, and I didn't even tell Felicity to strike a pose! A great momento of a great day in the mountains.

Winner of the Hillwalking Category: Sunset in Glen Nevis, by Hamish Frost (@hamishfrost)

Hamish says:

Joe, Tim and I had just finished up a day shooting for Rab on the fantastic Raw Egg Buttress on Aonach Beag. As we were on our way back down to Glen Nevis, the sun dipped below the clouds and put on one of the most spectacular and vibrant sunsets I've ever seen in Scotland. It was a magic but fleeting moment. Realising that the lightshow would likely only last for a few moments, I quickly asked Tim and Joe to walk back up a short section of slope to give a nice silhouette of two climbers against the bright backdrop. The resulting image almost looks oversaturated, however the colours were very much as vibrant as this!

Winner of the Landscape Category: Petit Dru, by Jamie Hageman (@jamiehageman)

Jamie says:

It's been ten years since my one and only trip to the Alps and I've been reminiscing. I went in October 2013 for three weeks armed with camera, sketch book and a bivi bag. On one of my so-called 'rest days', I slogged up through the forests towards Montenvers in fresh snow, not really knowing what I'd find. The place was deserted, apart from two people - one from my home town of Fort William, and Killian Jornet out for a run. The view of the Petit Dru was both frightening and beautiful. It's really the Cerro Torre of Europe from this angle - I couldn't keep my eyes off it. The unusual swirling clouds just added something special. 

Winner of the Scrambling Category: Pinnale Ridge, by Jessica Grzybowski 

Jessica says:

Who'd have thought just 8 years ago I was terrified of heights and found myself scared on Grizedale Pike! 

It's my go-to mountain therapy ridge route. It's usually fairly quiet and offers a bit more technical scrambling that the neighbouring striding edge and the exposure gives a feeling of being on a climbing route. 

The views over the Patterdale valley are stunning, and albeit a short scramble it's just magical every single time. 

Winner of the Sport Climbing Category: Molly cruising up Sky, by Jacob Smith (@jacobsmithy)

Jacob says:

The photo was taken of climber Molly Oliver while we were out for the day in the Lake District to climb some routes and get some clothing photos for local brand LakesCult. The route in question is Sky at Hodge Close quarry, which is a breathtaking venue, so I felt it important to shoot wide and include a lot of what makes hodge so beautiful including the water below. Sky is a well bolted 6b+ following a vague crackline with some lovely balancey moves often above the bolts. Molly cruised it.

Winner of the Trad Climbing Category: Born To Be Alive, by TJMillen (@tjmillen)

Tim said:

We spent quite a bit of time developing this new crag high above Buttermere last year. Thankfully on the day of this first ascent my wife was there to help take some great photos, capturing the great back drop and typical Lakes boldness this crag provides. Many thanks to UKC users for the votes.

Winner of the Winter Climbing Category: Jamie Skelton on Hung, Drawn and Quartered, by Hamish Frost (@hamishfrost)

Hamish says:

During the winter of 2021/22 I was working on a multi-day project for Gore. It was basically a dream shoot, where we were given us free reign to go out capture imagery and video on any winter routes we wanted. A strong team of Jamie Skelton, Tim Miller and Ella Wright opened up a lot of options! A cold and stormy February brought some of the more out there cliffs into condition and Tim had seen a photo that suggested 'Hung, Drawn & Quartered', an infamous Martin Moran route on Skye might be in nick, so we decided to take a punt on it. Situated on the sharp pinnacle of Am Basteir on the Cuillin Ridge, the route is a modern classic which sees relatively few ascents. It follows an overhanging basalt dyke line which cuts through the steepest section of the cliff. Upward progress is made by hooking your axes over chockstones, with a bit of hand-jamming, lots of fun 3D climbing and a bit of chimney grovelling thrown in for good measure.

This was one of the highlight days of the entire winter for all of us, Jamie and Tim both agreeing that it was one of the best mixed routes they'd ever climbed. Although a little part of me was gutted not to be climbing it myself, I enjoy the days with a camera in hand as much as the days hanging off a pair of axes. Stormy conditions (a drone crash..), some complex access and rigging to get into the top of the route, and an incredibly photogenic line at the end of it. It gave everything I really look for in a day out photographing winter climbing. The photo is of Jamie leading the thin moves near the top of the wildly exposed third pitch.

(Postscript: I finally got to climb the route a year later and it was every bit as good as I'd hoped!)


3rd Overall: Foot and back, back and foot, by Tony B (

Dave says:

Photography is often more about what you exclude from the frame rather than what you include. So here with all the outside world excluded by necessity we're left to focus on the climber, the few feet of rock either side of them, and the link to the belayer, unseen (presumably the photographer). It feels to me like a literal metaphor for that climbing-and-partner relationship in the mountains; when committed and focused on the task in hand the rest of the world outside your immediate surroundings might as well not exist. It's a deceptively simple image; graphic but still achieves balance, and can't help but set the imagination racing and that's never a bad thing.

Toby says:

Winter climbing can be challenging, tackling the elements in search of adventure, and even more so trying to capture those unique moments that you'll never regret and never forget, Deep cut chimney was one of those experiences.

2nd Overall: Annapurna Evening, by Edward Tomkins (@eddysmountaincompany)

Dave says:

The mountains have a funny habit of throwing up epic grand scenes, bizarrely localised weather, and striking light - and this image combines all three. The crisp contrast and the colour palette of the warm oranges and the denim blue sky reminds me of the Kodachrome images by adventure photographers and climbers on Himalayan expeditions in the 1970s and 80s. In fact you could imagine flicking through a copy of the late Galen Rowell's Many People Come, Looking, Looking and being stopped in your tracks by a double page spread of this one. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing so make no apologies at all for picking this image. I just hope the photographer has cleared some wall space at home for a nice big print of this!

Eddy says:

I was working on a Dhaulaghiri trek guiding a group around. This is the evening after the longest and penultimate day as well as the highest ground covered. You start to head back to civilisation after this.

Camping just above Marpha, at one of many yak karkas, you're treated to incredible views of the Annapurnas at golden hour, the mountain changes colour about 7-8 times, we were lucky enough to have these views. 

1st Overall: Medium, by Jethro Kiernan (@jethro_kiernan)

Dave says:

It's a surprisingly tricky job trying to pick your favourites from other people's work, but this image immediately jumps out at you. It is one of those images where, as a photographer, you see it and really wish it was one of your own.

Known in some circles as a "bastard" shot for this reason - so named for the exclamation made when seeing it - this is not only a really nice balanced composition but one that crams a lot of climbing, social and industrial history into the frame. It's also one where the photographer has pretty successfully managed to in effect 'get out of the way' and let the scene do the talking, with the little bit of lens flare in this notoriously difficult lighting scenario being the only reminder that you're not actually stood there yourself. But to be honest with the creeping imposition of AI on the creative world that imperfection is one I'm more than happy to live with. Absolute bastard!

Jethro says:

The photo of The Medium was taken on one of those pleasant late autumn, late afternoon, last minute social climbing trips to the slate quarries. Tom and Anna had been taking turns on The Medium (both got it nailed that day!) and I'd been trying to get some big climbing landscape pictures. This is actually a crop of a larger panoramic format shot consisting of 5 vertical shots. I've been working on getting some pictures that suit a large-scale print and I feel this one encapsulates what I was aiming for in that the climber is in a decisive moment but doing it within the larger landscape, the sort of thing that when looking at a large picture on a wall would work really well.

I decided to crop it down to a 10x8 format for UKC (the format I used to print B&W prints) as the large scale loses the climber when viewed on a screen and heaven forbid a phone!

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