The climber’s view

_DS85005It took me six and a half hours of walking today in very hot weather to capture this image. It’s an image that I have wanted to ‘get’ since I first climbed the mountain that you see centre frame eight years ago.

This mountain is the Dom and it is special because it is the highest mountain in Switzerland. A fact that is not universally known and causes a lot of discussion, even argument. I wrote a post about this fact a few years ago and it is the most frequently viewed of all my posts. Click here to view it and get some background information on the Dom.

Normally the line of ascent of most peaks is easily visible, but the strange thing is that it is impossible to view the line of ascent of the Dom easily. Viewing the mountain from Saas Fee you see the vast precipitous face of it and its neighbours – rarely climbed from that side. From Zermatt you see merely the silhouettes of the Dom and neighbouring peaks, and from vantage points above Zermatt that silhouette remains largely unchanged.

It is only when you move back down the Zermatt valley to Tasch or Randa and climb up out of the valley at a point opposite to where the mountains are placed that you get to a vantage point where the line of ascent can be appreciated. And that is what took a lot of hard graft earlier today.

Like most Alpine climbs, climbing the Dom takes two days. On Day 1 you climb up to the Dom Hut (or Refuge) and on Day  2 the summit climb starts in the night (before 3am for this peak). The Dom Hut is just visible low down on the left of the image just to the left of a grey curl of moraine. From there the route heads diagonally up and right and hugs the left bank of the glacier. A short rock climb is then necessary to crest a ridge of rock where it reduces in height – the Festijoch. The route then follows the very easily seen, and largely snow-covered, ridge that angles up to the Dom’s summit. The climb takes about five hours.

So today was mission accomplished. Finally I have an image that shows a route by which this peak is climbed. There is another route, still not visible but which climbs the snowy face out of sight and beyond the skyline ridge. I will need to find another walk that gets me to a point where I can capture that too – but that will have to wait for another year.



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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14 Responses to The climber’s view

  1. Congrats on your accomplishment. It must be beautiful seeing things from that view

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks for your visit and kind comment. It is very satisfying seeing a view like this. What it hides, and can never portray, is the effort involved in summiting that peak, which holds the dubious distinction of having the largest height gain from valley floor to summit (with no possibility of assistance from cable cars etc) – it’s over 10,000ft!

  2. My goodness, Andy. Congratulations. I feel your exhilaration!

  3. shoreacres says:

    What a grand day you had. The photo is beautiful, but I can only imagine how much more impressive it was for you at the time. Coincidentally, one of my Texas blogging friends posted today about Norman Clyde. I thought of you immediately, and thought you might enjoy it.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks so much for the link, Linda. I’m signed up to follow that blog. When I was at Cambridge Uni, the Dean of my college was a Greek and Hebrew scholar. Each year he took a group of Undergraduates on a week’s walking in the Lake District. I was invited him on one of these weeks. He knew the peaks like the back of his hand and could walk the legs off us all. He was about 60 but still capable of a 24hr marathon walk at the end of the week which we all took part in. He carried with him a copy of the Psalms in Hebrew and would read them while eating lunch high on a peak.

  4. Sue says:

    My goodness indeed! That’s. A lot walking/climbing, and a wonderful photograph!

  5. Your efforts in getting this shot were well rewarded. It is a wonderfully clean image. The light looks like it was good to capture the colours in the mountains and I think the shot may have worked less well with a cloudy sky. Conditions and weather are something we have no control over so I’m sure you were pleased the weather gave you the opportunity to get the shot you’d been seeking for so long. Seeing the hut helps to offer a sense of scale. All in all it’s a big thumbs up from me. Thanks for sharing. Will this be one to print up and frame? Best wishes, PC 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks PC. We have had three days in a row of clear blue skies – something I remember from many years ago as not uncommon – but it is years since we last were lucky to have a spell of weather as good as this. In one way it is ‘chocolate box’ or ‘picture postcard’ weather. Images lack the atmospherics that clouds can provide, but for pure documentary photography, you cannot better blue skies like this. I have a large print of this peak from the Saas valley, that shows this group of mountains at their majestic best.

  6. Chillbrook says:

    Fabulous shot. I’m sure you were grateful for the fitness training you did before your trip Andy. This image really does need to be clicked on to be appreciated. It must be an amazing feeling to reach a peak of this nature. It’s interesting to see the glaciers, still eroding and shaping the mountains of course. Beautiful shot. I’ve no doubt this will be printed on your return and find a place on a wall in your study perhaps. 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much Adrian. By the end of yesterday after a long climb in suffocating heat it felt like I had run a marathon. It is frightening to see the rate of glacier retreat here in the Alps – visible in two years. The landscape is radically changing.

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