Updated: Jan 10, 2021
This is the story of how it all started, after all photography is all about the story behind the photo!
A couple of years back when I was living in London, UK on 2016 I decided to start exploring the mountains. You might be thinking In the UK, what mountains ? yes I know I know but living in London can open the doors to many travel destinations, and one of the best mountain candidates is, the Alps! A long waited mountaineering trip to Mont Blanc on June 2016, was a good excuse for me to learn a bit more about photography. And so it began the journey to exploring my artistic side. After quite a few workshops with Photoion Photography school in London, UK, I was hyped! Discovering a whole new world of art, which I knew existed, but never thought it would capture my interest so quickly and heavily.
Chamonix & Bossons Glacier
The Journey began with a planned mountaineering trip to Mont Blanc. Briefly, the itinerary included travel and accommodation to Chamonix, training and ascend to Gran Paradiso in Italy. If you have not been in towns and cities around the Alps, then you will be very impressed from the raw nature and the homey atmosphere of those towns. The views are stunning and the feeling is overwhelming. Would you not agree that opening your balcony door or relaxing at the chalet's outdoor seating area with the views of Bossons Glacier and the Alps, is simply breath-taking ?
Sadly enough the Glaciers in the Alps and all the world are melting thanks to us human and the Global Climate Change (read more about this phenomenon here if you are interested). In some glaciers you might find pictures of how much bigger the glaciers were 100 years ago in comparison to today, is truly amazing what nature can do and how easily humanity can destroy it. My 2 cents here are, if you can travel and explore nature and the mountains, do not waste time thinking about it, just do it!
Enough with the sad reality of our world, back to some more optimistic thoughts. During my stay in Chamonix I found out that June is the month of the International Handstand Day, I bet you did not know that, did you ? Well neither did I back then, but I had to support the day, plus seeing the world upside is always fun!
International Handstand Day
Gran Paradiso (or Gran Paradis in French) is part of the Graian Alps, located in Italy and the summit itself lives in the National Park of Gran Paradiso. That is where the training and the preparation for Mont Blanc would take place.
Enter Gran Paradiso
And so it began the little hike to reach the hut, where we would spend the night and do our training before hitting the summit. Arriving at the hut was pretty easy, even with the high temperatures of the Italian June and the altitude of around 2700m. The Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II was a very nice and cosy place with many like minded people, spending the night before their ascend, simply hiking in the national park or wanting to enjoy some food and alcohol in a mountain hut with a great view.
The afternoon was mostly relaxing and a bit of training such as how to put the crampons on the boos, how to use the ice axe and so on, followed by a nice dinner in a homey atmosphere.
Next day, early start and a frosty morning it was when the ascend started. With our start at 2735m we had 1326m to get through before we can conquer the summit. My feelings... well I am not a big fan of cold water (that is what you usually get in most huts in altitude over 2500m, from the washing sinks at least), had hardly had any sleep as I was too excited to sleep and I was carrying around 10kg extra due to my photography gear. You are thinking, I must be crazy, but honestly that is a photographer's life, and frankly speaking in some cases you will carry a lot more than 10kg of photography gear; pack less food, get more gear. Certainly not, ensure you have enough hydration and food to get you up and down a summit before considering loading yourself with extra weight. That said you will be surprised on how much you can save if you do smart packing for before any hike, winter camping, snow walking or mountaineering.
Walking up whilst watching the sunrise and other teams also ascending with us, the thrill was just increasing by the minute. A few stops here and there, many photos all over the place! Truth to be told, looking back to those moments and photo, I am harsh and critical to how many mistakes I was doing, nevertheless mistakes are part of life and as long as we learn from them. then is all good; at least that is why I tell to myself. After some time and some breathtaking views, we were finally there... and there was traffic of people!
After some time waiting in the queue and followed by some traversing (that was fun!) we were happily up on the top, and I have to admit having the weather to our favour was a huge plus! Not only because the hike up was easier, but also because of the nice clear view as far as the eye (or lens) can see.
Everything nice and great comes to end and so did this summit. Walkin back was much warmer and sunnier, easier to go down to the hut and of course, everyone was looking forward for a nice warm lunch and a hot cup of espresso whilst enjoying the view of the surroundings once again.
The End... of a great trip!
Unfortunately, due to a forecast of bad weather on our 2 day-trip ascend to Mont Blanc, the guides advised me against carrying photography gear (or extra weight) as being inexperienced and also having to do scrambling between the french hut and the summit, it could be a potential risk for me and the rest of the group. Needless to say that we did do the ascend and reach the summit, there was not bad weather and quite frankly, the extra gear would not have affected me in any shape or form, but life is full experiences and that was one of them. Better be safe than sorry! There will always be a second chance for me to go back to Mont Blanc with the gear, which after a few years of experience, I know what that should be and certainly with a more experienced eye.
Nevertheless, I will never forget the whole experience as it tested my physical and mental limits and it certainly taught me a lot about the mountains. It opened and trained my eyes and most certainly it got me hooked in photography and the thirst for new stories and new adventures!