High in the Sky

_DSC0583_BWNothing improves the look of a mountain in summer as much as a dusting of freshly fallen snow, as is evident in this image. And a little low lying cloud or mist drifting by adds a little to the mystique.

This is the Obergabelhorn 4,063 metres (13,330ft) with the Wellenkuppe 3,900 metres (12,805ft) to its right. Two of the many high peaks that are part of the panorama high above Zermatt.

The Obergabelhorn was first climbed on 6 July 1865, during a period that is often referred to  as the Golden Age of Alpine Mountaineering, when one by one the major Alpine Peaks were conquered for the first time. The second ascent was made the very next day – 7 July 1865 – by Lord Francis Douglas, and Peter Taugwalder. Exactly one week later those two men would be members of the group of seven, led by Edward Whymper, that would achieve the first ascent of the Matterhorn. Lord Francis Douglas lost his life, along with three others on the descent. Peter Taugwalder, his son, and Whymper were the only three survivors.

The sad news, in the last few days, is that two British Climbers were trapped by a high altitude storm high on the Matterhorn, and lost their lives before rescue teams were able to reach them. A stark reminder of the dangers associated with Alpine climbing and the suddenness of changes in the weather that can change a benign experience into a struggle for life itself.

I’ve made two attempts to reach the summit of the Wellenkuppe. The first attempt was fifty years ago when we strayed off the route of ascent and retreated to safety. One week later I stood on the summit of the Matterhorn. The second attempt was with my son about ten years ago when we retreated due to the onset of bad weather. I doubt I will try again.

The mountains are always beautiful to view from a distance, but they must always be treated with the greatest of caution.

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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 High in the Sky

  1. Chillbrook says:

    This is indeed very sad new Andy. Your photograph truly shows the beauty of the mountains but rather like the sea, they must be treated with the utmost respect.

  2. Len says:

    Quite majestic Andy. You are well ahead of me with respect to attempted summits (I have zero)

  3. hmunro says:

    What sad news about the two British climbers, Andy. But looking at your image, I can understand the allure of wanting to experience such a beautiful place. I’d love to hear about your own experiences sometime, in more detail …

    • LensScaper says:

      The beauty lifts the spirit. But beautiful can turn savage within a few minutes. Some of my experiences can be found in the Blog archives – see Rt sidebar and view ‘Climb and Trek’ or ‘Swiss Alps’.

  4. shoreacres says:

    Your mention of your adventures, and the sad news of the other climbers, reminds me for some reason of Roz Savage, and her ocean passages. There were times when she, too, had to turn back, but in the end, she managed to achieve at least some of her goals — and avoided near-disaster a time or two. But she was willing to accept the risks.

    As I used to tell my mother, when she’d fuss about whatever I was getting up to next, “If I stay home and sit on the sofa, I risk being taken out by a stray meteor or a piece of space junk. So I might as well go and have fun.” She’d just roll her eyes.

    • LensScaper says:

      One of the quotes my parents would wheel out from time to time was: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ And as for the reply to your mother…Oh yes, what is safe? We’ve all been there one way or another.

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