On my second trip to the Alps, undertaking a Masters photography project, I remember how I had to reorient myself psychologically and optically to the mountains. I met a Canadian couple who compared the area to Yosemite. It looks similar they said, but “just keeps going on and on” which indeed it does. From the Lauterbrunnen valley you go up to Wengen, further up to Kleine Scheidegg, and up again cutting through the Eiger on the train to the Jungfraujoch glacier where it’s difficult to breathe. I had to adjust to the Alps photographically because I’d been used to smaller mountains. On my first backpacking trip in the Pyrenees several times I noticed good photographic areas as I walked. A valley view for example, as you trek from Refuge D’Arlet to Candanchu. You could spend an entire day in one such place investigating viewpoints, angles, natural features and waiting for good light. The next day I lingered for photographs exploring the possibilities of Pic du Midi d’Ossau as you walk to Refuge Ayous. Writer Nan Shepherd used the term “going into the mountains” evoking the experience as opposed to the achievement. This is very much my approach and where my photography is central. The demands of your walking must however come first. Time is limited and, eventually, you have to return to the airport. Supplies are limited too. I carry food for two or three days then need a shop. More than that and my rucksack is unbearably heavy. As such photography is necessarily secondary. There are days however when I have more leisure such as this one: walking up to Calberides from Estos was a day trip. I’d left most of my gear at the refuge – tent, stove, food, toiletries, sleeping mat, book – to collect again before descending to the Esera valley for the evening.

 

Pyrenees Mountains: Lake To Aneto (2)

Saturday January 25, 2014