Category Archives: Skiing

A Decimal Dozen from 2018

So, as a climbing photog I shoot mainly outdoor subjects right. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t shoot other subjects as well as I’ve always figured that shooting different subjects is a good challenge which ultimately drives creativity. Likewise a year-end review one’s own work offers a good opportunity to see what you did in the year which you like in retrospect and/or what you’d do different if your kit, like The Dr’s, included a Tardis.

Climbing and photography have both been good to me – and both float my boat. Yet it remains very difficult, read next to impossible IMO, to do both in the same time continuum; you need to concentrate on one or the other to get the best out of either. A trip to Spain in January/February, as a climbing boot-camp, has become something of a ‘must-do’ activity. I go with the firm intention to climbing lots and lots and lots but take the camera along as well – just in case.

Paul cranking up the excellent Oceano (F7b) at Wildside

Photo opps on a ‘climbing’ trip are typically minimal but a day at Wildside towards the end of my trip in February offered a fleeting opportunity to get high up and so get a suitable angle. A single opportunity in a whole week isn’t much but you have to grab what you can when you can on these trips.

 

A boarder cruising one of the slalom’s at Risoul

I came to skiing late in life; however, if it wasn’t for climbing I could become a ski-bum for sure! Last year we rocked up in Risoul in early April; thankfully there was plenty of snow about despite it being the end of the season. As with climbing photography, ski shots need to be planned; very occasionally something does pop-up that worth nabbing. Shooting from a lift isn’t the norm but it can give an interesting alternative with luck.

 

Mina on the top roof of Totally Free II, Malham

By May we were well into the Malham season and in May last year Mina was taking a bit of time out from her long-term project to get a bit of mileage done. Totally Free II is one of the longest single-pitch routes at Malham as well as in the country and it’s a stonker. Catching Mina on the top roof had entailed a hell-for-leather run up the plethora of steps on the left of The Cove; it was worth it though even if I had to hang over the edge without a rope to get an angle that I wanted to show the totally out-there feel that pulling over the top roof can only entail!


That candid moment after the wedding ceremony when you’re alone – apart from the photog – and crack out the big smiles!

Also in May I shoot a wedding! My Dad used to shoot weddings and yet it was a gazillion miles what I ever wanted to do. However, when you’re asked by very good friends what the heck can you say but yes!! I argued with myself that shooting digitally at least I’d be able to review the shots as the day progressed – what could go wrong?! It was still a stressful business though; definitely can’t go for a re-shoot afterwards!! Will I do more then? Hmmm, maybe, maybe not – pleasure though to capture Graham and Helen’s big day though…

 

Abersoch Harbour at dusk

Fast forward to August and a surfing trip to Abersoch in North Wales. I’d been threatening to take my girls surfing for a couple of years – going ‘public’ meant that it would be harder to bottle and duck-out. Like many photogs, I’d dabbled with surfing shots – albeit from the safety that the shoreline offers! I’d love to have a go catching surfing from actually in the water but I suspect that will be one item that remains on my bucket list for some time. Arriving at Abersoch late on the Friday we were treated to a storming sunset. Fortunately, I made the effort to get down to the harbour and rattle a few shots off as dusk fell; just as well given the two days of solid rain that followed!!


Katherine Choong pulling down in the Hallshalleran Cave

Flatanger, Norway has gotten under many peoples’ skin; certainly it’s firmly embedded under mine! My second trip last September was the usual mixture of amazing conditions; amazing good and amazingly bad! It’s one heck of a locale is Flatanger – not only a stunning venue with some amazing scenery but its (obvs) got a stack of stunning climbing too.

 

The sunsets are often spectacular; maybe not literally to die for but pretty darned good!

It’s a tough gig though; don’t even consider it if your into apres climb and can’t handle day after day of rain and wind. I’ll be writing a piece for Climber Magazine later this year to if you’re interested keep an eye out for that!

 

Airbnb is definitely a thing these days and images for accommodation listings are an integral part of that process

Come September I had a request to shoot a flat for an Airbnb listings; something different again so off I went! It’s an interesting exercise in balancing perspective and lighting.

 

Chelsea Park in the autumn

Brincliffe Woods and Chelsea Park are literally right on my doorstep; it seems wrong not to capture autumn which is a fantastic time of the year. Again, it’s about selecting a subject, then a viewpoint then having the lighting to tell the story. I spotted these tucked away in a corner of the park so got down low and included a brightly coloured distant tree to contrast the foreground.

 

Mark stretched out on one of NW’s classic Font 7a – Elephantitus

I’m always pretty keen to get away to North Wales bouldering so when a decent dry spell popped-up in the forecast it was an easy decision to pack and go. We had three days of cracking weather and came back utterly spent. I (finally) got to go to an number of areas that I’d been meaning to check-out for some time including Sheep Pen and The Elephantitus  Cave. Sheep Pen is utterly brilliant and the setting leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Defo a venue to check-out if you’re not been and yeah, there’s plenty – like tons – to go at! The Elephantitus Cave couldn’t be different to be honest; a small, lake-side venue but the blocs again are brilliant – especially Elephantitus itself.

 

The eagerly anticipated Statement of Youth didn’t disappoint the KMF audience

Finally then, Kendal Mountain Festival. This is another ‘thing’ which is very much on many climbers’ annual calendar. Last year, the weather was absolutely cracking and I, like many, simply couldn’t resist getting out onto the rocks for a bit. KMF is, of course, all about films and literature and last year they were some pretty stout films and books knocking about. I’m biased, having lived in Sheffield at the time the Hunter House Road houses were the place to hang, but Statement of Youth was a splendid trip down memory lane. Any other year and New Dawn, the film about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s battle royal with The Dawn Wall, might have scooped all but last year it was up against Free Solo which centred on Alex Honnold’s utter audacious solo of Freerider on El Cap; that was captivating.

So that was a decimal dozen of subjects from 2018; no not a dozen, or a Baker’s Dozen but a decimal dozen! Yeah sure there’s 11 pixs – value for money egh!! More this year!!

Also posted in Adventure, Bouldering, Climbing, General, Photography, Scenic, Travel

Guilty Pleasure

March 7th; 2017

There’s something about skiing that gets under the skin – for me at least! I get all the pleasure of being up in the mountains – the stunning environment and the amazing feeling that skiing gives – yet I don’t have to endure all the hard graft of flogging endlessly uphill that is part and parcel of mountaineering. Mountaineering, of course, is more than that – but skiing, at least for me, is just unadulterated type #1 fun – mostly.

Mont Blanc from the Grand Massif

Mont Blanc from the Grand Massif

We’ve just been to Grand Massif – our third visit in fact. The Grand massif is the sprawling ski conurbation that encompasses Flaine, Vernant, Les Carroz, Morillion, Vercland, Samoens and finally, Sixt. It was easily the warmest visit – mainly we skied with open jackets and a thin baselayer only – even gloves were dispensed with at mid-day. We skied over from Samoens into Flaine one day only to be greeted by temps of 17 degs – yep, seriously warm. Not surprisingly, there was less snow than usual; sufficient, but definitely less. It’s dumped over a metre of fresh snow since we were there so the rest of the season should be pretty much assured.

There’s considerable development underway at Samoens; both in the village itself and at Samoens 1600 – the base for operations in that neck of the woods. A monster development in town is going to add a fair number of peeps, and pressure, to the infrastructure but not nearly so much as what is apparently a ClubMed development at Samoens 1600 where, so the word on the street has it, a c.400 bed development is partway through the procurement process. All the extra bodies will create the need for additional uplift, new pistes and – it is said – some re-modelling of the exit runs off Tete Des Saix @ 2118m where the two existing runs will surely be swamped under the burden of the new skiers.

The last run home from the Desert Blanc

The last run home from the Desert Blanc

Whether all this is positive or not depends on your viewpoint. It’ll undoubtedly be a plus for local businesses as well as those directly linked to the ski business. The environment will take a further hit and that’s the mute point I guess. Yet it can only be duplicitous to raise concerns about new development and turn a blind eye to that which has already been undertaken – after all, all the existing lifts and pistes weren’t dropped-in overnight by the ski-gods.

Interesting, Grand Massif was awarded the Green Globe in autumn 2016. In fact, Grand Massif is apparently the first ski area in the world to be awarded the Green Globe Certification. There’s some blurb on the back of the piste map related to said certification. Here’s what it says:

“Green Globe is an international certification programme which rewards the efforts of tourism businesses in their social, economic, cultural and environmental initiatives. The programme is built on a series of 40 topics set out in over 300 obligatory and optional criteria ranging from management to sustainable development… and is a firm long-term commitment since [they] have to present significant improvements every 2 years in order to keep the certification.”

So there you go. Something positive to offset the guilty pleasure of skiing in that area…

Deux Pain SVPOn-site bakeryOn-route to Samoens 1600On-route to Tete Des SaixLooking past Corbalanche towards FlaineTete Des Saix - Corbalanche panoMont Blanc from the top of Desert BlancThe joy of an open pisteDropping into MorillonThere's never a rush to start the final run homeTete Pelouse (2474m) above the Desert BlancSunset over Cluses on the way back from FlaineDown-town Cluses

Also posted in Travel

Feb 23rd, 2016: Three in Three

It’s probably not too far off the mark to say that many of us Brits usually throw our hard-earned cash towards Europe when it comes to skiing; the honey pots certainly aren’t cheap but the resorts are extensive and the sliding is typically good and reliable. The same, sadly, can’t quite (slight understatement?) be said of our home-land skiing.

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Great connies on The White Lady, Cairn Gorm Mountain

Scotland, undoubtedly the premier ski location in the UK, is exposed to the vagaries of the Atlantic weather systems which all too frequently inflict anything from soggy wet snow, low-lying clag and broken runs to savage winds, white-outs and icy runs. That said, the long-suffering Scottish ski industry appears to have had a proverbial leg-up in recent years thanks to some ‘harder winters’ of late. Die-hards continue to head to the Scottish hills whenever the conditions come good.

Sheffield’s recent February half-term, conveniently a week ahead of many others, amazingly coincided with a good forecast in Scotland; settled conditions with low winds, decent (cold but not Baltic) temps with overnight snow showers topping up the already established snow pack. It seemed almost too good to be true and rude not to take advantage.

Scotland_18_DSC04975

On top of Flypaper & Spring Run at Glencoe

Having skied before at Cairn Gorm we were keen to get to some of the other places – especially Nevis Range and Glencoe. Finally, we decided on a blueprint for the trip; kick-off at Cairn Gorm, then switch to Nevis and then finish off at Glencoe for our third and final day. Sadly, the Lecht and Glenshee weren’t showing sufficient snow/runs when the master plan was pulled together although that changed as the week progressed and they too were reporting decent sliding opportunities.

We arrived in Aviemore midweek and awoke to a considerable dusting of fresh snow – that in the valley too; things looked promising! For three consecutive days the conditions stayed pretty good and the skiing was good. Cairn Gorm and Nevis didn’t quite have sufficient build-up to allow so-called top-to-bottom skiing but both had a good chunk of their respective runs open. Back Corrie action was happening at Nevis, albeit for the suitably experienced and equipped. Glencoe however, was virtually fully open with every run good to go above the access gondola.To be honest, getting three good days skiing in Scotland in three consecutive days felt like a rare treat; defo not to be sniffed at. Sure, it’s different to the European experience, but as they say, “if you can ski in Scotland you can ski anywhere”!

Here’s a selection of shots snapped when I wasn’t sliding…

Welcome to Cairn Gorm Mountain!Looking down GunbarrelBottom of GunbarrelLovely connies on The White LadyThe Back Corries on Range Nevis - from the valleyRange Nevis access gondolaHome time - goodbye Nevis RangeAccess gondola at GlencoeView from Glencoe over to The BenLooking down Rannock Moor from the top of Meall a'Bhuiridh (Glencoe)Checking out the back off the top of Meall a'Bhuiridh The top of Flypaper & Spring Run at GlencoeHome time againRannock MoorBrew stop on the shores of Loch Lomand on the way homeLoch Lomand Pano

 

Also posted in Photography