A couple of years ago we went on a hastily arranged break and ended up in the Swiss Alps. I guess this became the start of my journey into serious landscape photography. When asked by my partner where to go, I mentioned that I fancied the Alps, half an hour later with the help of an online article from the Guardian, entitled Europes 10 best camp sites, we had settled on La Fouly in the Val Ferret. Close to the French and Italian borders and part of the Mont Blanc massif. So epic peaks and vistas beckoned. Camera kit comprised 2 D3 bodies and associated lenses, and I also took along the dinky little Fuji x100. Along with various filters and tripod. My girlfriend remarked about the amount of gear I was taking. Never mind the hair drier, electric fan heater, and other assorted goodies she had managed to hide away.
After a pleasant drive through France into Switzerland we stopped just before dark close to Lake Lucerne for a much needed break and bought some food, here we encountered our first problem, we assumed wrongly that the Swiss used the Euro, so all our currency was in Euros, not a good start when paying for the food which was in Francs. Finally arrived at the campsite around 10pm, the journey had taken a little over 14 hours. It's no fun trying to pitch a tent, blow up a double airbed, in the pitch black being grumpy and tired, needless to say we had one or two heated exchanges whilst we made our shelter.
After a much needed sleep we awoke to problem number two, the campsite has no lights at night (which is a good thing) so we just pitched up finding a spot lit by car headlights. Only problem was we had set up our camp about 5 metres from the toilet block. Hastily moving our camp had one or two campers shaking heads at our ineptitude.
The campsite and surrounding mountains were simply breathtaking, waking up early doors and seeing the moon light up the peaks of the Tour Noir, and Mont Dolent was something special. The weather for the entire duration was endless days of high pressure, blue sky and sunshine. In fact apart from the first morning it never rained.
Alpine walking I can quiet honestly say, is a huge toil, for one I'm not that fit, and two not appreciating how tiring, walking up hill in hot weather and the resulting scarcity of oxygen is, it makes for a long day.
For one of my trips I went up to Cabane de La Neuve which sits high above the valley at over 2700 metres. This is pretty close to 9,000 feet, not quite like romp up Tryfan or the Lakes. It takes effort, something I really felt aware of during the 4 hour upward slog. The access to the cabin is via a 60 foot climb via chains up a groove in the rock, interesting ! and not for the faint of heart. After taking in the views and an hours rest, I decided to try and get up to the Col de Tour Noir at around 3600 metres, however changed my mind when I saw some of the crevasses en route, and hearing the boom and crash of falling rocks, decided to give it a miss and headed back down to the campsite.
Pointe des Six Niers and the Glacier De L'a Neuve. Late afternoon. Nikon D3 16-35mm
The spiky tops of the Javelle Ledges and a tribute in the rock. Fuji X100
Shadow play Fuji x100
High on a hill etc etc Fuji x100
From a photography point of view, I really cursed the D3, of course its a great camera, but it weighs as much as a small child, and with fast glass 2 small children, tabbing uphill carrying that is seriously debilitating. I was so glad I took the Fuji, it delivers so much in such a small form, what more could I have wished for...... A fuji 14mm maybe.
To be continued........