Close Up


John Catto on location in Nyriangango Volcano

As a veteran photojournalist working for print and broadcast media, corporate productions, and non-profit organizations for close to 30 years, I’ve travelled to  35+ countries shooting still and moving images of cultural, political, scientific, news, and sporting events. That experience has demanded wearing many professional hats including those of Producer, Director, Cameraman, Reporter, Still Photographer, Location Scout, Safety Co-ordinator, and Translator.

Much of my career has focused on assignments documenting scientific explorations, expedition adventures, and extreme mountains sports in tough locations from the Arctic to the Antarctic. In addition to those extremes, I’ve clicked and rolled my cameras in the jungles of Asia, Central, and South America, in the deserts of  Utah and Oman, and the arid steppes of eastern Tibet, and in the mountains of Patagonia, the Himalayas, and Alaska.

In the last dozen years, volcanoes have emerged as a principal theme of my shoots. In 2015, I traveled for a third time with Dr. Kens Sims (U. of Wyo.) to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to document his research  on the active volcanoes of Virunga National Park  that endanger the city of Goma. There, in 2010, I participated as DP and Field-Producer in the National Geographic TV film Man v. Volcano featuring Dr. Sims.

In 2009 I directed, shot, and helped translate three short films entittled The Body Politic documenting the social emergence of  womens’ health issues in Guatemala and the political importance of family planning as told by some of that country’s women and youth.

In 2001, I produced and directed the independent film JUMP! which utlimately gathered a dozen festival awards. In 2000, I shot and field-produced Hitting the Wall, a big-wall climbing documentary for National Geographic TV. This film won me an Emmy for electronic cameraperson. Making the popular and multi award-winning La Escoba de Dios merged my profession as a photojournalist with my passion as an alpinist for the first time in 1992.

Five Emmy nominations (2 statues), a Cindy, a Golden Eagle, a San Diego Press Club award, and more than a dozen film festival awards later, attest to my abilities and allowed me to work for media giants such as National Geographic TV, the Discovery Channel, PBS, NBC, BBC, Christian Science Monitor TV News, ESPN, and OLN.

When not on assignment, I’ve spent a significant part of the last 40 years struggling against gravity. With numerous first ascents on crags and peaks in the USA, Canada, Patagonia, and the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan, I can honestly call myself an experienced alpinist, rock climber, and ice climber.

Close Up - Different Hats





Still photographer
Starting as a cub photojournalist with the Houston Post in 1980, my career includes pix published in National Geographic magazine, NG Kids, Washington Journalism Review, New Scientist, Siences et Avenir, Oceanus, Alpinist, Rock and Ice, Climbing Magazine, the American Alpine Journal, Washington Journalism Review, the Honolulu Star, and in the book Lava Scientist. I’ve done freelance work for the AP in Panama, El Salvador and Chile in 87. I’ve also worked for art dealers, real estate developers, and auto companies shooting promotional and marketing materials.

Award-winning cameraman/director
2 emmys, 5 emmy nominations, 1 cine gold eagle, A Cindy award, and a San Diego Press Club award speak to my ability behind the lens. I’ve directed and managed multi-camera shoots in many different formats including DLSR, HD, Digi-Beta, Beta-SP, DV, 16mm, and 35mm.

Award-winning producer
My talent as a storyteller and producer manifests itself with more than a dozen national, international film festival awards as producer of JUMP!, La Escoba de Dios, and field-producer of Man v Volcano and Hitting the Wall.

Location scout
Finding the perfect location has long been part of my abilities. My knowledge of the great outdoors and my extensive travels gives me a unique familiarity with some of the world’s most unique ecosystems including the desert southwest of the USA, the Canadian Rockies and Arctic, Patagonia, Tibet, Peru, Baffin Island, and so many more…

Safety/Rigging co-ordinator
As a veteran alpinist, I know the ropes of the vertical realms. I’ve rigged ice climbs, rock climbs, and big wall shoots, hired climbing and rigging teams and coordinated on-site safety for a Mammut corportate film and for a Toyota in-house corporate film.

Fluency in English, Spanish, and French has proven time and time again to be a priceless communication asset on shoots around the world.





Reels - A Snapshot of Shoots

(click hot links to see video clips)


1990-2015 Alpenglow Pictures 

D.P. Lava Lake
D.P. / Rigger / Safety Mammut Castleton Climb
Field Producer / D.P. Man v Volcano
D.P. / Field Producer The Body Politic
D.P. / Photographer Into the Mouth of Hell, Oceanus Magazine
Producer/Director JUMP! 16mm & 35mm doc (Czech Republic)*
Producer/Camera La Escoba de Dios (The Broom of God) 1992 Best Climbing Film Telluride Mountainfilm Festival and 1992 Banff Festival of Mountain Films
Producer/Director A Two-Way Street: The Companion Diocese Program 1990 Cindy Award

1998-2005 National Geographic Television

Camera/DP/FP The Perfect Swarm
Camera Ultimate Bridges: Denmark-Sweden
Camera Ultimate Bridges: Greece
Camera Attack of the Mystery Shark (Sundarbans)
Camera Etna Erupts (Sicily)
Camera/DP Denali (US)
Camera Everest Extreme (Nepal)
Camera/Field Producer Croc Chronicles (Belize)
Camera High Road to Shangri-La  (Tibet)
Camera/ Field Producer The Chachapoyas (Peru)
Camera  Cobra Hunt, Myanmar (Burma)
Camera Clan of the Snake Catchers, Myanmar (Burma)
Camera  Fire & Iceland (Iceland) Nat'l Emmy Nomination 1998
Camera/ FP Hitting the Wall (Baffin Island, Canada)


2004-2005 Voom Network (Rush HD, Equator Channel)

DP Shelter from the Storm (Baffin Island )
DP Vanishing Planet (Madagascar) Discovery Channel & Outdoor Life Network
Camera Iditarod 2006
Camera Primal Quest 2004, 2006
Camera Eco-Challenge 99 (Patagonia) National Emmy Nomination 2000 Outstanding Camera                
Camera Eco-Challenge, Canada ’96  1997 National Sports Emmy Nomination                  
Camera/FP Kingdom of Muli, Tibet  1998 Emmy /Sports /Series Camera-Adventure Quest
Camera Next Step-Upsk, USA 1997 California Emmy Producer Award
Camera  World Monitor News doc. Europe: 1992 & Beyond
Camera World Monitor News Series Children of War, Yugoslavia

1990s Kaleidoscope Productions & First Light Films
Camera/ DP Rights of Passage, 16mm sports documentary
2nd unit Camera 16mm doc. Tricking the Chief

1984-1988 Univision, KSND, KCWS News
Cameraman/Equipment Manager for D.C. Bureau, extensive coverage of local, national and international news for the world’s largest Hispanic network

Cameraman/Editor for 5/10pm news at NBC affiliate in San Diego
San Diego Press Club Award Best Spot News Photography 1986

Cameraman/Editor for evening news at local indy in Glenwood Springs, CO KCWS




Project Map


Awards and Honors in Television


  • Emmy for Outstanding achievement, camera Hitting the Wall- National Geographic Explorer
  • Emmy Nomination, Outstanding Camera Eco-Challenge 99 Patagonia- Discovery Channel


  • Emmy Nomination Finalist, camera Fire & Iceland –National Geographic Explorer
  • Emmy for series camera, Sacred Peaks of Muli -OLN Adventure Quest


  • California Emmy Award Upski, Next Step -Discovery Channel


  • Emmy Nomination, camera
    Eco-Challenge, Canada ’96- Discovery Channel


  • Cine Gold Eagle Award La Escoba de Dios (The Broom of God)


  • San Diego Press Club Award Best Spot News Photography KSND News


Awards and Honors at Film Festivals



  • Kendal Mountain Film Festival, UK. Special Audience Mention
  • Filmfest St.Anton am Arlberg, Austria Grand Prize
  • Crested Butte Reel Fest Faulkner Award for Colorado Creativity
  • IFAAF International,Prague Centrum CZ Award and Audience Award
  • Trento International Mountain Film Festival

Best Film on Sport and Sport Adventure

  • Hory Y Mesto Film Festival, Slovakia Jury Award winner
  • Moscow International Mountaineering Film Festival

Special Jury Award winner

  • Llamberis Edge, U.K.

Best of Festival Award


  • The Banff Mountain Film Festival, Banff Alberta

Best Film on Mountain Sports winner

  • The International Mountaineering Film Festival at Teplice Nad Metuje, CZ Grand Prize and Audience Prize

"Hitting the Wall"

  • Best of Festival & People’s Choice of Swedish Mountain Film Festival, Hitting the Wall –National Geographic Explorer
  • Best of Moscow Mountainfilm Festival, Hitting the Wall –National Geographic Explorer

"La Escoba de Dios (The Broom of God)"

  • Best Climbing Film Telluride Mountain Film Festival
  • Best Climbing Film Banff Mountain Film Festival



Mark Hesse FA NW buttress of Mt. Postern




First Ascents

  • 1976  Slip and Slide 5.9  1 pitch Potomac River Gorge VA
  • 1980 “Wild Thing” 5.12  Fringe of Death Canyon Indian Creek, “Block Plan”  5.10+ Fringe of Death Canyon w/Robert Warren
  • 1982  First Free ascent Honeymoon Chimney 5.12, The Priest  w/ Robert Warren
  • 1983  Fly or Fry 5.11  Eleven-mile Canyon CO with P. Gallagher
  • 1986  “Gates of Hell” 5.10 A3 NE Organ Tower Arches NP with P. Gallagher
  • 1989  “Waiting for Kennedy” IV 5.10+ 4 pitches Gunsight Butte Canyonlands UT  with P. Gallagher
  • 1990  “Wingnuts in Brakland” VI 5.11 30 pitches W Buttress” Uzan Brak,   Pakistan with Steve Wood
  • 1992  “La Escoba de Dios” VI 5.10 A4 East 27 pitches East Face Cerro Cathedral Patagonia  with Charlie Fowler, Max Kendall, Peter Gallagher
  • 1995  “The Pidgeon and the Porcupine” 5.11 5 pitches Pidgeon Peak , CO with Ken Sauls, Max Kendall
  • 1998  “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash” VII 5.10 A5 23 pitches Great Sail Peak Baffin Island  with Synnott, Lowe, Child, Ogden, Wiltsie
  • 2000  “Fourth of July” IV 5.10  4 pitches Arrowhead RMNP, CO  with Mark Hesse
  • 2001  “The Way of Ignorance” IV5.12 3 pitches Crow’s Head Spire Canyonlands   with M Hesse
  • 2001   NW Buttress VI 5.10 23 pitches Mt Postern Rampart Range Canada
  • 2004   Marching Men III 5.11 5 pitches, Tin Soldiers 5.10 Rampart Range  Canada with Scott Simper
  • 2005  “Scorpion Wall” VI 5.11+ 15 pitches Roraima, Guayana   with Jared Ogden and Mark Synott
  • 2005  “The Village Idiots” III 5.10+ 17 pitches,  The Catapult Rampart Range with Scott Simper
  • 2005  “Bad Habit” 5.11 3 pitches The Nuns, CV UT with Jay Smith,  Mark Hesse
  • 2008  “Holy Shit” 5.11 4 pitches The Rectory CV UT with Jay Smith
  • 2008  “No Country for Bold Men” VI 5.10 A3 9 pitches Uranium Peak UT  with Greg Child
  • 2009  “Voodoo Child” IV 5.12 4 pitches Castle Valley UT with Jay Smith
  • 2011 Sinners and Infidels 5.10+ 3 Pitches on the Rectory, UT with Jay Smith and Doug McDonald
  • 2012 Trad Gone Bad 5.10 4 Pitches Mt Vigil, CO
  • 2014 Skrimskali WI5 6 Pitches Bildudalur, Iceland with Jay Smith and 6 or 7 other F.A.s as well











Other Ascents

  • 1976 Mt Helen Wind River Range, Wyoming
  • 1986 West Face Blatierre, L’M Chamonix
  • 1988 Andromeda, Mt Fay, Mt Athabasca, Canada
  • 1989 Grand Capacin , Chamonix
  • 1990 El Capitan, the Nose, the Shield
  • 1994 Alpamayo, Uruz, Ishinca  Peru
  • 1995 the Sorcerer, Hydrophobia Canada
  • 1996 Poincenot, Guillimet Patagonia
  • 2000 Phantom Spirit on Echo Tower, Fisher Towers Ut
  • 2004 Polar Circus, Weeping Wall Right, Canada
  • 2005 West Buttress Denali , El Capitan Lurking Fear
  • 2010 Standing Rock UT
  • 2014 Lotus Flower Tower, NWT Canada
  • Rocky Mountain N.P., CO The Diamond, Longs Peak, CO, Hallet’s Peak, Spear Head,
    Arrow Head, Cathedral Wall, Petit Grepon, Notchtop













Desert Towers

  • Castleton  x 20 +/-  
  • Crow’s Head                  
  • The Priest x 2
  • Rectory   x 7             
  • Devil Dog Spire  FFA   
  • Zeus x 2
  • Sister Superior x 3          
  • Perriot Mesa                   
  • Moses x 2
  • Washer Woman x 2 
  • Monster  Tower            
  • NE Organ        
  • Echo Pinnacle                 
  • Lighthouse Twr  x 3      
  • The Gossips
  • Lizard Rock x 5     
  • North Six Shooter  x 2  
  • Echo Tower
  • Big Bend Butte       
  • South Six  Shooter x 3   
  • Mexican Hat
  • Standing Rock         
  • The Nuns                           
  • Cleopatra’s Needle 
  • Podunk Mesa Tower
  • Gunsight Butte       
  • Bridger Jack x 2















John Catto
Phone: 970.948.1689
Basalt, Colorado







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