So, it’s that time of year again. Since all the good snow was used up yesterday, let’s take the opportunity to repeat the 2010 retrospective post. Here, then, are my 10 favourite shots from the past year. Enjoy!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that last July, I managed to climb a route I’ve been dreaming about for a while: the Frendo Spur on the north face of Aiguille du Midi, in Chamonix. The best part, however, was that my partner on it, Nick Valentine, had become a good friend in just a week and we had worked really well together on this climb.
Nick and another of his friends, Jon Gupta, with whom he climbed a few other routes in Chamonix after I departed last summer, decided a few weeks ago to up the ante and aim for an extremely ambitious goal: being the first two Brits to win the Snow Leopard Award. This medal used to be given by the Soviet Union to every climber who managed to summit all peaks above 7000m in the USSR, then as now a major accomplishment. There are five of them, now located in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. By order of difficulty, Peak Lenin (7134m), Peak Korzhenevskaya (7105m), Peak Communism (7495m), Khan Tengri (7010m) and Peak Pobeda (7439m). And because we (almost) live in 2012 and not 1950, they’ll climb fast and light, alpine style, with no porters, no fixed lines and no pre-established camps. If conditions are right, it should be possible to manage all the summits in just 40 days, two less than the standing record currently held by superman Denis Urubko.
Last week, Jon came to Cham to practice some off piste skiing, and Nick made a quick trip from Verbier, which allowed us all to meet and discuss objectives, with the result that I can now announce I will join the expedition, as both a team member and a cameraman/photographer. I’ll of course do my best to reach all summits, but my priority will be to bring back some awesome footage to, ultimately, produce an inspiring movie.
Right now, the expedition is still in its early stages and we are actively looking for grants and sponsors (don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you think you may help!). I’ll probably talk about it some more whenever significant things happen, but if you want to keep in touch and stay updated on our progress, you can follow the 2012 Snow Leopard expedition on facebook and twitter, and a proper website is coming up soon.
And that’s only one of the three potential expeditions I have slated for 2012! Exciting times ahead for sure.
I have made no secret in the past that Chamonix, in the heart of the French Alps, is a very special place to me. It’s where I learned to love the mountains, mostly through hiking and skiing, from a young age. And in the past couple of years, I have made as many trips there as I could, flying for long weekends from Denmark or Sweden, always trying to climb big alpine routes. So last summer, when the time finally came to go full time pro as a mountain photographer, the decision to move to Chamonix was an easy one, especially since it is also a major hub for the climbing and skiing elite that I make a living stalking with a camera.
The trip to Yosemite delayed things a little bit, but upon my return, I hopped on a train right away and started the fun task of looking for a place to live in the valley. As it turned out, this was the worst possible time, as the skiing season was just about to start and hordes of ski bums had invaded the town and driven flat prices sky high. I soon joined forces with one of them, Englishman Charlie Evans, and after much searching and a few sleepless nights ruminating our limited options, we finally got lucky with a huge apartment right in the centre of town. We are now sharing it with a third flatmate, Stéphanie, and possibly a fourth yet to be determined. And the view from the giant balcony or from my bedroom window, encompassing pretty much the whole range, from Le Tour to Les Houches (and the Aiguilles Rouges in the backside) is simply incredible. Certainly a very worthy base of operations!
Though things were desperately dry when I first arrived, at the end of November, the past two weeks have seen some very heavy snowfalls (over 1m50 in the past 10 days, with more on the way!). I already got some skiing in and just acquired a full touring/freeride setup to go explore the backcountry and, hopefully, get a lot of climbing done!
Before the exciting things start again, when the cablecars reopen and water ice forms in the valley, enjoy this selection of the images I shot since arriving in the valley, only a foretaste of what’s to come, I hope!
You will probably remember Craft and Vision as the publisher of my ebook on adventure photography, Extreme Perspectives. Their model is simple: produce high quality, original content in easy to read and beautifully laid out ebook format, and sell it for a very low price, usually only $5.
Earlier this summer, I was contacted by C&V’s founder and spiritual father (as well as badass humanitarian photographer and writer), David DuChemin. He asked all the current C&V authors whether we would be keen on each contributing an essay on the topic of our choice, to be then assembled into a big ebook and given away, for free. No caveat, no small print, no time limit or even “like us on facebook first” (though I believe you need an email address for checkout). It may sound a bit crazy, but if I have learned one thing from the internet, it’s that the more you give away freely, the more good things happen to you. It was after all from giving away my article on mountain photography to the website the Luminous Landscape that I landed my publishing contract for Remote Exposure.
So I jumped in, and while traveling in London in September, I wrote a 2000 words essay on a topic I have thought about for a while, the importance for “advanced” photographers to share their work and receive feedback and criticism. And of course, when I tried to give a bit of context and define things better, the essay evolved organically into something more comprehensive, examining on the way the different stages in the life of a photographer.
Well, the ebook has been released a couple of days ago, and it has essays by David DuChemin, Piet Van den Eynde, Andrew S. Gibson, Nicole S. Young, Stuart Sipahigil, Eli Reinholdtsen, Michael Frye and myself. And all of those are definitely worth a read!
You can head over there, pay the awesome amount of 0$ and start reading right away: Craft and Vision.
And don’t hesitate to let me know what you thought of my contribution, I always love to get feedback (even, or maybe especially, bad one).