Moab Rock Climbing Elopement Day | Gillian + Josh
Gillian + Josh are an adventurous couple who met in Colorado, where they both live. From their first date their relationship has blossomed through experiences in nature and during outdoor adventures. Their first date consisted of a multi-pitch trad route that they did in the dark under a full moon. It was Gillian’s first time cleaning trad gear, which meant they were both putting a lot of trust in each other and building strong communicating from the start. On their elopement, Gillian brought the gloves Josh gifted her from that first date to wear while belaying Josh.
When it came to picking a location for their elopement Moab, Utah made a lot of sense. They got engaged in Moab while climbing the route Pocket Rocket together. Moab has been a familiar stop for them when it comes to climbing or as a pit stop along their many road trips together. Moab had everything they wanted in their day – warmth, rocks to climb, stars and privacy.
Moab Hanging Rappel for Star Gazing
To start off their elopement we were supposed to meet for climbing, however, we did a switch-a-roo to navigate weather and started their elopement with the way we were supposed to be ending it. During the planning process it was very clear how much climbing means for the two of them and their connection. The stoke was high on climbing. They also wanted to take some time for star gazing. So I thought – we should combine these two!!! We planned the “impossible” to capture a hanging rope rappel off of an arch in the middle of the night for stargazing and night photography. We ended up starting with this due to the late Winter weather Moab was experiencing as with the projected weather it was the only chance we would get to see the stars. When we parked the cars we looked up and were blown away at how many stars there were visible to our eyes. There was no moon until later in the night. We hiked up the sandy hill and Gillian + Josh began their night send up the arch. Bill and I hiked back to the base of the arch where we waited, listening to them communicate with each other and watched their headlamps dancing around the landscape. We heard the rope drop and they began their rappel down. They stopped along the way to take in the stars, a magical sight. One they hadn’t got to see often on such a clear night. It was a moment of quiet, a moment of admiration and a slower, intentional pace. Truly it was the perfect way to start off the elopement, just getting grounded within the experience and being immersed in the landscape/atomosphere, even through they were suspended in the air.
Climbing off of Kane Creek Road on their Elopement Day
Though our night climbing and descent went into the early morning hours of their official elopement day (we actually had to climb it twice to get the fixed ropes back!), we started their big day off just around sunrise in the depths of Kane Springs Canyon. This canyon is known for adventure – off roading, mountain biking, base jumpers, climbing and lots of hiking too. Josh and Gillian had found a route here that peaked their interested – what they felt would be the perfect route for their elopement day. It was a multi-pitch trad route involving full body stemming, optional crack climbing and a double rope hanging rappel. For them, this would be something that relates to their first date which brought in the feels and a newer style of climbing for them which presented a challenge to face together. Gillian loves trying new things. For her this would be a totally new style of climbing and a new route. However, she also would have to work through a small healthy amount of nerves for the height of the hanging rappel. Josh and Gillian would rappel down together though, side by side.
After prepping all the gear Josh started the climb off with a kiss and started to lead the route while Gillian belayed him. Josh had fun with the first pitch, stopping to look down at his bride and out at the view. Gillian was stoked to climb in her wedding dress and was all smiles as she started up the first pitch. After they both made it to the anchors they got to hang out in the chimney together before starting pitch two as I made it to the other climbing wall adjacent to us to capture the second pitch from a better angle. Bill who had been photographing from above on the route rapped down to get his drone to photograph the rest of the route.
As they climbed up the second pitch, they money wild chimney pitch, I was at the base of a crag across the road and the climbers there were in awe as they watch the groom and bride go up the route in their wedding attire and also in awe of how some fellow climbers decided to celebrate their day! Once Gillian topped out on the route reaching Josh, everyone at the crag whistled and congratulated them. Once at the top and their ropes managed the went up a little higher on a big ledge where they could sit together in the sun chatting and enjoying the morning in peace and surrounded by beauty. They started their hanging rappel down, nerves a little extra high on this day as they were going to “tie the knot”. As they got closer to the ground we had some fun on the ropes, enjoying the time and space together being playful. We packed up all the gear once everyones feet were back on the ground to start our hike back to the cars. As we reached the cars they enjoyed a beer, looked back at what they had just tackled on such a special day. After taking some time to put away all the gear, take a second and enjoy the moment, it was time to head out and get ready for their ceremony!!
If you climb, you probably know that feeling after completing a new route where you had to push yourself a little bit – stoked, energized, blissfully happy. Imagine that feeling, but you are also about to go get married!!
Fisher Towers Elopement Ceremony
Gillian and Josh decided to elope in the Fisher Towers area because it was an area of Moab they had never stopped to explore before. Before setting out on the trail, they signed the trail registry, making note they were hiking to their wedding ceremony for all to see! We all were eyeing the route Ancient Art as we made our way through the first few bends of the trail. We noticed other people climbing in different areas as well. Seems like a place they will be coming back to throughout their marriage to maybe celebrate an anniversary climbing a route overlooking where they said I do. As we made our way down the trail we took in the views of Castleton, the towers and mesas around us.
We had scouted out the perfect private spot, just off the trail in an area with loads of durable rock surface which offered privacy and awesome views. They hopped over a small crevasse and they had their own perfect rock island to stand on to share their vows. They intimately shared their vows, straight from the heart, and exchanged rings – sealing the deal with a kiss. Gillian wore her great grandmothers ring as she jumped back over to the mainland. All smiles, full of stoke – they did it, they got married!! They shared their dance to a romantic song in solitude with a majestic view, no one around but them two. Before sunset they sat down to take it all in with some pizza + beer too! They are both beer lovers and brought some of Josh’s favorite, which also happens to be what they had on their first date. They shared pizza in honor of it being pi day, which was only fitting since Gillian loves numbers. They sat together, after a cheers of course, taking in the massive towers around them and also the stoke on spending the day together doing what they love, in a beautiful place – getting married.
On the hike out in the dark we were surrounded by all of the towers and got to see a few headlamps of climbers coming down the routes in the area. As we hiked out we enjoyed conversation together. We learned that for Josh his love for climbing started at a young age as her father taught him to belay. We learned for Gillian her love of the outdoors started as a child living in Arizona where she started doing hikes early on in the Grand Canyon and other parts of the state. We chatted about some of their favorite memories together, when they lived in a ski condo early on in dating and how fond of memories they have from that experience. Throughout the day watching these two work together in adventure and them simply being together, embracing quality time, you could tell how much they love each other.
Gillian + Josh’s wedding day was them. They shared beers, climbed, hiked, adventured, spent quality time together, Josh had Gillian laughing with his jokes, ate pizza, and enjoyed nature. They told me during planning that they weren’t very good at sitting still – I can confirm we were not still very much for the 24 hours of their elopement. It was a day fully embraced and fully lived in a place they can come back to for more epic adventures, to reminisce, to hike, to look up at the stars and to slow life down every once in a while.
Moab Rock Climbing Elopement Photographer
Hi-ya! We are Traci + Bill – your adventure elopement photographer for the Western United States! We believe elopements a can be a reflection of marriage + your story as a couple.
Working with Gillian + Josh really resonated with us. A lot of their personal story as a couple overlayed with Bill + I’s story. Just like them, on one of our first dates Bill took me up a multi-pitch route – and I had never climbed before. Ever since then, similar to Josh and Gillian, our relationship has been bound in adventure, exploring, trying new things, supporting each other and pushing ourselves. Their elopement also reminded us some of our own in the sense of choosing to really do something you love, and adding a little spice. We are so thankful to have been brought along for their day being able to share this connection with the outdoors and a like minded view on how to get married.
If you are looking for an elopement photographer to help you bring your big ideas to life on your wedding day – we are here for it! We love capturing couples love stories from Washington to Arizona and beyond. We will be with you every step of the way.