Snow-bound

A ski holiday is always a lottery. You book the holiday weeks if not months ahead and hope.

Hope that there will be a good depth of snow, up high and at resort level. Hope that the sun will shine and that you will see blue sky. Hope that the weather will be about right: not too damn cold, and not above zero. It’s a lottery. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Snow coverage was very poor this winter early on, but by the time we went to Zermatt ten days ago, the snow was good – if you want a snow-sure resort go high. Zermatt is high.

People go to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn, without that mountain dominating the scene in a way that always takes my breath away even though I have seen it hundreds of times, the resort is diminished. The Matterhorn was only visible on two days out of six. Disappointing.

It was cold, very cold up high: -16C on most days. Colder still at the top-most station. Plus wind chill from an annoying wind. You dress accordingly and the body stays warm, but the fingers, nose and cheeks go numb. You want to get down to slightly warmer temperatures, but the faster you ski the more you create additional wind chill. And those conditions certainly discourage taking images.

Most of the time it was overcast, with brief breaks in the cloud cover. Visibility varied considerably. Sometimes it was a question of feeling one’s way down. But there was one day, when, despite overcast conditions, everything combined to produce superb on-piste conditions and I skied the best I’ve ever skied. And there is nothing quite like skiing fast, confidently, and in full control. It really is an adrenaline rush.

To sum up: a holiday of mixed fortunes, but still a joy.

And so to today’s image.

IMG_7470_wpShot from a chairlift. Just a leafless larch weathering the winter. Stark. Bleak. Isolated. More tomorrow.

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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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8 Responses to Snow-bound

  1. Good to hear that everything came together for a day Andy – I’ll bet that day will stay in your memory for a long time to come.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Paul. Yes it definitely will. I hired a really good set of skis that carved brilliantly, and the snow had not gone through a series of freeze/thaw cycles so it was just hard but not icy – giving one great confidence.

  2. Len says:

    Still better than being at home Andy. It sounds like you had some great highs.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’m pleased you were so pleased with your skiing. I imagine that sense of everything being “just right” (despite the cold!) must be akin to having the sails set perfectly on a long passage, settling the boat into her groove, and then just going.

    Clearly, larch trees don’t move, and generally, they don’t talk. Still, I tend to write stories for photos like this, and the story here is Mama Larch calling to her lagging baby: “What is WITH you? Your sister can stay next to me. Why do you insist on lagging behind?”

    • LensScaper says:

      I love that story, Linda. And the phrase ‘lagging behind’ brings to mind a word I came across not long ago – ‘lollygagging’, or ‘lallygagging’ – meaning to dawdle. I prefer it spelt with the ‘o’, it brings to mind a small child so busy sucking its ice lolly to extinction that it has no time or effort for any other activity.

  4. Chillbrook says:

    One very memorable day at least then Andy. I’m sure you hoped for many more but as you said, we choose our dates and then it’s down to luck with the weather. That larch looks like it’s bending its knees ready to ski down the slope..

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