The chang­ing sea­sonal moods of Switzer­land’s Mat­ter­horn

Joshua Earle shares his ex­pe­ri­ence of trav­el­ling to Switzer­land to pho­to­graph one of Europe's high­est peaks in t wo con­trast­ing sea­sons

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Contents - @ex­plore­with­joshua

AS A PHO­TOG­RA­PHER I’ve al­ways been drawn to moun­tain land­scapes, as they pro­vide the ideal dra­matic back­ground for a pic­ture. Moun­tains also ap­peal to me purely as a travel ex­pe­ri­ence: there’s some­thing about how they make you feel small and yet also sig­nif­i­cant, in that mo­ment, that I re­ally en­joy. That’s what prompted me to pho­to­graph the Mat­ter­horn dur­ing two dif­fer­ent sea­sons. There are per­haps two or three lakes around the moun­tain where you can see its re­flec­tion in the wa­ter, and this is one of them: Stel­lisee near Zer­matt. For the whole of the trip I took in sum­mer I was chas­ing the sort of light you can see here, and the way one face of the moun­tain is lit up in the sun­rise. I used a tri­pod to take the pic­ture; that’s me you can see in the shot. The sec­ond pho­to­graph was taken the fol­low­ing year in late win­ter, so the ski sea­son was al­most over, and the land­scape was very quiet. I’d been wait­ing for three days to take the shot. I had hiked in the snow up a slightly round­about route to reach this spot, and then set up camp there. It’s not a camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence I would rec­om­mend to be­gin­ners. Tem­per­a­tures were around -8°C and I needed a sturdy spade to dig the small trench that I set up the tent in. When you do this, it’s im­por­tant to know the area well, so that you can be cer­tain you’re set­ting up on solid ground. Be­cause of my pre­vi­ous trip to Zer­matt, I knew where I was and that it was safe

to set it up where I did. It was very dif­fi­cult to tell: the snow so deep that you couldn’t even see the benches along the trail by the lake. While I waited for the cloud that of­ten hugs the peak of the Mat­ter­horn to clear, and for the sky to gain the lu­mi­nous qual­ity it has in this pic­ture, I had the chance to qui­etly ab­sorb the majesty of this vast, nearly de­serted land­scape. I find trav­el­ling alone a free­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause it gives you the space to ob­serve your sur­round­ings with­out in­ter­rup­tions. When the right weather ar­rived, I took a pic­ture of the moun­tain in the same way as I’d done the pre­vi­ous sum­mer, in­tend­ing the two im­ages to work as a pair. I like both im­ages, but the win­ter one par­tic­u­larly takes me back to a re­ally spe­cial, in­spir­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and the beauty of the moun­tain.

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