Walking the mountains is about vast space and huge outlook. In pure photographic terms this is the kind of shot I like best, and it’s otherwise. You notice something happening on rock, in the sky, and fleeting. A slight illumination here, a brooding darkness there, and you try to frame it. You see the potential for beauty when the day, actually, is different.

I decided to climb Monte Cinto which at 2706 metres is the highest point of Corsica. Navigation and weather were against me. The GR20 paint flashes are wonderfully easy to follow. They repeat, frequently, which means you walk without worrying about your route. It’s not entirely that simple however because, for example, on some few places you find a cairn not the red and white stripes.

I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention. I followed cairns and went up an entirely different valley which in winter must be the ski slope above Haut Asco. I go into hippy mode, I said to one of the British party, when I do this. I wander. I don’t want to be thinking left, right, this way, that way, uphill, cross this river, climb. I wander.

I get lost too, which on this day meant I lost about two hours and then the weather deteriorated. I was determined to retrace my steps and set off correctly for Cinto, gauging my energy levels. I would return very late, but I’m familiar with that.

I reached Pointe des Eboulis and thick grey cloud had descended. I saw nothing of the next valley and nothing of Cinto. I was already pushing the limits of the day. An hour previously a chap in orange conversed, with me, with two others who were descending. We asked about the path, about time, and they said part of the climb to Cinto was dangerous. I thought he was exaggerating in regard to what I know (if I have to) I’m capable of. The chap in orange turned back.

Pointe des Eboulis is the summiting col up this rocky slope. I could see nothing, it was about four o’clock, and my overriding concern was further deterioration. In big places like Corsica and the Pyrenees you are subject to big weather systems. It’s not like Britain. You take extra care avoiding cloud and rain because it’s more serious and may lead to a thunder storm. Five people died at the Cirque de la Solitude two months prior to my walk. Violent weather caused landslides; one body was found about two months later. Earlier in 2015, in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, a man was killed by lightning. It’s rare in Britain but does occur, and it’s more likely in places such as Corsica and the Pyrenees.

I’m actually quite happy if I have a bad day but then find, back at home on my computer, I have a few good photographs or even one.


Corsica Photography: Climbing Cinto

Thursday September 24, 2015