For the View

Why do I climb mountains? People climb mountains for many reasons: Because they’re there (to paraphrase George Mallory), as part of a self imposed challenge (climbing all the Munros, or all the Alpine 4000M peaks for example), maybe simply for the challenge offered by that single mountain.

It may be for the Adrenalin Rush perhaps, for the experience, for the achievement, for the pleasure, for the exercise, to see the other side, for the rewards of being high on a good day (if you’re lucky). And finally for the views. Among all those possibilities  – and I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive list – I would place ‘For the Views’ at the top of the list of reasons why I still choose to climb the occasional 4000M peak in the Alps in my seventh decade.

_DS76781_BWReaching a summit and seeing the world spread out below you is an unforgettable experience. Seeing forty, fifty, or even on one occasion, a hundred miles across Switzerland is a Vista on the grandest of scales. The images I capture from those highest points are images that I treasure, not for the evidence of a summit reached, but because these images lock in the memories of that climb, that summit, that view.

Today’s image is a B&W conversion of an image already posted a few weeks ago of an ascent of the Allalinhorn. Click here to see the image, or here to view the Post. B&W simplifies, distils the image into a pure tonal range. It is the medium first used to capture the mountains, and for me, continuing to use it, speaks of the everlasting nature of the mountain landscape.

It’s common In the Valais Alps for fluffy Cumulus clouds to bubble up during the morning over northern Italy and intrude into the views from summits like the Allalinhorn. On this day, there was not a cloud to be seen, the view was all about the extraordinary recession as my eye drifted across ridge after ridge to the point where the land appeared to merge with the sky.

About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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27 Responses to For the View

  1. I really admire mountain climbers. You must have great discipline. Beautiful shot 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Norma. Discipline is an interesting word applied to climbers. Certainly climbing requires focus, determination, and involves a lot of hard work at any level. At the ‘severe’ end of the scale it involves courage, colossal self belief, and nerve. Discipline perhaps applies particularly to the techniques of climbing whereby risks are recognized, evaluated and where possible controlled. And also of course it is crucial to the protection of a team of climbers linked by a rope, where each member of that team contributes to the safety of that team. Discipline on the mountain also means knowing when to turn back, when the risks outweigh the rewards of continuing. Sadly despite all those factors, so many lives have been lost when the unexpected happens, or the weather suddenly changes, or the determination to ‘summit’ at all costs over-rides common sense. A famous climber (forgotten who) wrote: ‘Getting up the mountain is optional, getting down is mandatory’. That’s where discipline really comes into play.

  2. rigmover says:

    And a stunning view too Andy, Great shot.

  3. ken bello says:

    I can only imagine the thrill of being at the top of one of these mountains and taking in such a view as this. May you continue to climb.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. Reaching the summit is always a thrill, and a sense of quiet satisfaction that all the effort has brought reward. I will continue, I hope for a good few years. There are a few Alpine Summits on my list!

  4. I love this – the layer after layer after layer of mountain ridges is beautiful.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Melinda. I often feel how inadequate photography is when I see a view like this. The camera can never truly give an indication of the sheer scale of the view

      • I agree.

        Scenes like this one are usually completely overpowering to me, as a photographer: it always seems that no matter how technically correct the photos may be, they still fall far, far short of actually capturing what I want.

        • LensScaper says:

          Yes. That is so true, Melinda. I still vividly recall trekking in the Himalayas when I was a very young man with my first film SLR and writing in my diary then how the camera just could not convey scale and height. You really do have to see scenes like these with your own eyes to appreciate the majesty of them.

  5. Rich McPeek says:

    Beautiful view Andy! Great shot!

  6. ShimonZ says:

    You do have a beautiful view here. But it seems to me, that what one feels after a hard climb. looking at the view… is a composite of sensual and cognitive experiences which can’t really be separated. It’s a high in more ways than one. I envy your strength and persistence. I can no longer do that, and I miss it.

  7. This is gorgeous Andy and the black and white works so well.

  8. athyfoto says:

    I have never been a climber, and I certainly know now that I never will be (age and arthritic joints:-) ). The only peaks I ever ascended where Snowdon, Tryffan, Helvelyn and lots of fell walking in my youth. But even at those heights I remember the overwhelming feelings when standing and looking out at the landscape below and around me. It is about 47 years since I last crossed Striding Edge to the summit of Helvelyn but it is as clear in my minds eye even now as it was at the time.

    I really enjoy when others take the time to share what they saw on their journeys and you provide us all with some magnificent images of places most of us will never see in real life.

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks for your comment, Frank. We are certainly singing from the same Hymn Book as the saying goes. I have those same crystal clear memories as you have and they are multi-sensory. I was privileged to trek in the Himalayas way back in 1969, and even now when I am walking in pine forests I sometimes get that same resinous smell, and immediately I am transported to steep forested valleys in Solu Khumbu. I’m convinced that photography helps to cement memories of important events like that.

  9. theaterwiz says:

    Great tonal compression!

  10. Breathtaking, Andy! I love the way the layers really convey the scale and sense of this magical place. Terrific thoughts you’ve shared here as well, adding a great dimension to the piece. Top drawer, my good friend!

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks Toad for those kind comments. As I said in reply to another comment – the camera often feels very inadequate (and a poor substitute for actually being there) in expressing scale in situations like this.

  11. I can only imagine the feeling of looking out at those mountains. Your photograph gives us a tiny sense of the magnitude of the scene. I can’t believe that you are seventy years old! You certainly don’t appear to be that old. I hope you climb into your eighties! 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      It’s an amazing sight, George. You’ve added four years to my age! I’m only 66 – sometimes I feel like 70, but mostly I feel less than 60.

      • hahaha! My apologies, Andy! I swear I thought I read ‘seven decades’, but I am unreliable these days. I thought surely you couldn’t be seventy! You don’t appear to be 66 either. I suppose it’s all that thin air at the top of the mountains! 😉 I am chuckling here since I am always making some mistake or other. It’s a lifelong habit of paying less attention than is reasonable. At any rate, I love your photographs and am delighted with your adventures.

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