Mountain Moments

Mountain Moments

It’s bothering me that I’ve not managed to climb a single mountain in 2015. It’s been a fabulous year with some wonderful highlights – like becoming a father and a home-owner – but in altitude terms it’s been decidedly flat. I love being on mountains for many reasons: fresh air & exercise, being able to appreciate the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, getting inspiration for my writing and photography, and most of all as a chance to get away from the non-stop demands of modern life and just spend a bit of time in peace and quiet. As such, I’m rather pining for high places. I’ve written this post to show-case some of my favourite mountain memories and what I believe are the best photos I’ve ever taken of mountains. It’s the next best thing to being up there, and I hope you enjoy it.

 

The first mountains I ever visited were in the Lake District with my family. As I recounted in The Roots of Adventure, my parents took us up England’s finest fells at a very young age, and my love-affair with them remains strong. The desire to be back in the Lakes can only be put off for so long. Of course, as a child I either had no camera or a very bad one, so the following photos are from more recent jaunts around the British Isles, including Snowdonia and Scotland as well.

The Langdale Pikes
The Langdale Pikes

When training for my Everest Base Camp trek in 2011, I climbed the highest peaks of England (Scafell Pike), Wales (Snowdon) & Scotland (Ben Nevis). The first produced no good photos because the visibility was just that poor, but we were fortunate indeed to get such glorious views of Snowdon and Ben Nevis. Both were shot from steep flanking ridges (Crib Goch & Carn Mor Dearg respectively), which as well as being great fun for scrambling also gave superb views of the mountains which are better than if we were climbing directly up.

Snowdon (1,085m)
Snowdon (1,085m)
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Ben Nevis (1,344m)

A more recent visit to Scotland provided some great pictures from the stunning landscape of Glencoe.

Looking across Glencoe from the knife-edge Aonach Eagach ridge
Ossian's Cave: a secret portal?
Ossian’s Cave: a secret portal?
Mountain-top rock-window

When Lucy and I went round the world a few years ago mountains weren’t top of the priority list, but we still managed to take in quite a few: the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps in New Zealand, a massive volcano in Maui and the exquisitely carved limestone monoliths of Yosemite Valley in California.

An airborne view of New Zealand's mountains and lakes
An airborne view of New Zealand’s mountains and lakes
Effortlessly picturesque, Walter Peak slumbers over Lake Wakatipu as dusk falls
Mount Tasman (3,497m) and Mount Cook (3,724m) - two of New Zealand's highest peaks, seen from Lake Matheson
Mount Tasman (left, 3,497m) and Mount Cook (right, 3,724m) – two of New Zealand’s highest peaks, seen from Lake Matheson
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The barren and desolate crater walls of Haleakala (3,055m)
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Cathedral Rocks loom over Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite Valley

All of these places are spectacular, but without doubt the greatest mountains I have seen are those in the Solo-Khumbu region of Nepal: Everest’s back-yard. The Himalaya contain all of the world’s tallest peaks, and I was treated to sublime views of them as I trekked from Lukla to Everest Base Camp in 2011.

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An unidentified peak that greeted me from the window of a tea-house in Phakding, looking like some primordial bastion
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Although dwarfed by the giants higher up, Thamserku (6,623m) dominated our view on the climb up to Namche Bazaar
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Mountain high to valley low: a synopsis of our route up the valley of the Dudh Khosi to the roof of the world (Everest is just left of centre)
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Everest (left, 8,848m) and Lhotse (right, 8,516m) provide the stunning backdrop for a prayer-flag strewn gompa on the path above Namche Bazaar
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Dawn blushes the snow-draped crown of Kantega (6,779m)
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Rock and snow in the dawn
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The monastery of Tengboche, nestled high in the Himalayan foothills. At 3,867m it sits higher than Mt Cook, pictured earlier
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Ama Dablam (6,812m) is one of the most beautiful and recognisable mountains in the world

 

 

 

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At over 4,000m, these yak-herders’ huts beneath Cholatse & Tawotse are amongst the highest buildings in the world

 

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The attractive cone of Pumori (7,161m) towers above the smaller brown peak of Kala Pattar (5,643m) – the highest point I have ever reached
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My enjoyment of this view of Pumori from Kala Pattar was somewhat reduced by the -17 degree temperatures as we waited for the sun to rise above the Everest range
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Everest (left) and Nuptse (right, 7,861m) loom above the Base Camp and the Khumbu Glacier in a ghostly pre-dawn light
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Everest peaking above the Nuptse ridge
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Farewell to Everest: trekking back down past the sombre cairns of fallen climbers

 

That’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures, both the humble and the lofty, the near and the far. Here’s hoping there’ll be a little bit more altitude in 2016.

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