Take one look at this long line of roped parties – akin to a traffic snarl-up – to understand why, on easy climbs in the Alps, I far prefer to climb solo.
There’s nothing intrinsically difficult about this climb provided that you are properly prepared and equipped. In summer there is always a trail to follow but the slopes are steep in places – both the gradient of the route and the angle of the terrain. Slip, and there’s a long way to slide and always the possibility of a yawning crevasse. And then there is the weather – always unpredictable in the mountains – and never under-estimate the altitude. Climbing at close to 4,000 metres (approx 13,000ft) is breathless work and no fun at all if you are not fit.
If you are up to the task, confident of your abilities, and always evaluating the dangers then there is something magical about being high and on one’s own (let’s just forget the others who happen to be around). On my own I am free to set my own pace – no being held back by slower climbers on the rope. I can take my time if I want to. I have the freedom to stop whenever I want. Grab an image or two. Sit awhile and admire the view. I can descend fast if I feel like it, overtaking slower parties. And if I mis-calculate the time and fail to reach my destination or elect to turn around for any reason, then it’s my fault and it’s my day that’s spoilt and no-one else’s.
Today’s image was taken a few years ago on one of my many climbs on the Allalinhorn in the Swiss Alps. It’s another shot that has been through Nik Silver Efex and has produced a very satisfying final image. It’s a busy route as you can see. The guides make easy money taking novice climbers up this mountain. For more images of this mountain click here.