Winter is tough when for several months you are half buried in snow, but the coniferous trees of the Alps are used to it and they do indeed survive.
This image was taken within a minute or two of the image in my previous post featuring the North Face of the Matterhorn, click here to see that post. This image caught my eye because of its simple minimalism. One small tree, with an even smaller one balancing the composition with ski trails providing a link.
The main pistes around Zermatt can often be crowded and when they are it is safest to keep going at a steady pace just like one tends to do when driving on busy roads. School holidays, particularly the half-term holiday weeks in February, can result in over-crowding and lengthy queues for uphill lifts. We always avoid those weeks, and on our most recent trip I never had to queue for more than a couple of minutes.
The quietest pistes at Zermatt tend to be the ones from Schwarzsee down towards Stafelalp or Furi. The Hirli lift has now been extended and provides a way to get back up above Schwarzsee, but if you ignore that, then you are on the long way down to Zermatt, and in the middle of the day not many people are wanting to do that. At times it can feel like you are the only person on the mountain – in total silence.
This image was shot on the last day when I had decided to head down for lunch and then a quiet afternoon back in the village. The piste was almost empty. Under those conditions it’s nice to dawdle, pause, and admire the view and take a few pictures.
The Nikon is around my neck, the chest strap on my slim-line rucsac secures the camera to my chest so it doesn’t flap around. The lens cap is off (yes, off), the camera is ready to use. You may be shocked by that! Skiing with a thousand pounds worth of camera exposed to the elements! Am I crazy? Well, I don’t think so, but my wife might disagree! When the Nikon is out, I ski a little slower than normal and take care. The bonus is that I am primed to take a picture, and therefore pictures get taken. If the camera is in the rucsac, then its a hassle to unstrap the rucsac, get the camera out, and remove the lens cap without dropping/losing it (very easy to do that while wearing gloves). And if the camera is hidden away, then images get missed. Life is always a compromise and for each of us we have to weigh up the risks and benefits of a given situation and make our decisions accordingly.
A lot of the images I take in the Alps – summer and winter – are the result of being in a position to shoot immediately. Having your camera in hand sends a signal to your brain that says: I’m looking for pictures. Your eye is switched on, you are hyper-aware.