The plan is to shoot the Matterhorn at the Stelli Lake at sunrise: “THE” Matterhorn cliché- photo. From the little window near my bunk I could see the Matterhorn in the dark when I got up (06.00), raising my expectations and I hurry up to not pass anything. I race to the Stelli Lake but just when I’m mounting the field camera on the tripod, mist rises up from the valley, hiding everything in its clouds. Quite a disappointment! The mist lasts until early afternoon. Fairly high altitude (mostly above 2500 and 3000 metres), the strenuous work and strong sun start to have its impact: I’m accompanied by headache and blisters on my lips… After a short and quick breakfast I decide to pack for a hike to the “Lost Valley”.
It’s a hidden valley not known to the tourists and I reserved my visit there for days when the sky would be overcast.
There is no marked trail so I have to guess my way, only roughly knowing the directions. After two hours of hiking, I reach the end of a glacial moraine and am surprised by a view into a lovely valley with a small creek meandering through it. Out of sight are all the trains and railcars and mountain lifts and huts and hotels, no tourists - just me. In this moment I couldn’t be happier about the overcast day, as it’s perfect to explore the valley and take photographs of “small scale” landscapes and forest scenes.
I stay until its too dark to focus and then hike back out.
Stelli Lake gets another chance. Although the Matterhorn (again!) is mostly behind clouds, the morning mood was quite wonderful. The rest of the day I have to reload the film holders again, take a short breakfast and hike to another hut. I’m really glad and thankful that I don’t have to carry a tent and provisions, as the 20+ kg large format photography backpack seems to get heavier each day. Headache I can kill, but the sunburned lips start to bother me. For the next two nights I will be at the Grünseehütte.
Another beautiful lake in which the Matterhorn is reflected by the Grindi Lake. Majestic larch trees surround the lake and probably two weeks from now they are perfectly yellow, but then the lake will be frozen, too. You can’t have it all. (at least not very often…)
Again, after a clear night and early rise and hike with headlamps through the dark to reach the lake in time, fog rises quickly from the valley messing up my plans! I can’t believe it! I start wondering if that is the usual phenomenon here…
Finally!!! First light hitting the peaks and no fog in sight! The main reason is a light but constant wind, which means the reflections aren’t perfect, but I tell myself “what the hell is perfect in the world anyway, right?” Rime ice is covering the vegetation, making for interesting scenes.
I return to Zermatt, change of clothes (…) and take the Gornergrat Train up the Gornergrat at 3.100 m. What a view: 24 4,000 m high peaks!
Here I’m accommodated in a “hut” (which in truth is a four star hotel) with a huge bathtub and a balcony with a view to die for. What do I have from it? Not much! I take images until quite late, search for a spot to set up the camera for a long-time exposure during the night, wait until dark to open the shutter, hike to the hut, sleep a bit, hike to the camera in the dark, close the shutter and sit down in the cold and dark and wait for sunrise. Right here I might have to mention, that I have an assistant with me, organizing all my logistics, who has accompanied me up to this place. He is sleeping in the nice room right now, probably enjoying a great breakfast on the balcony later on… I wonder if there’s something I’m doing wrong…
Weather is predicted to change, so as long as it holds, I stay up at this great location, look for new viewpoints, scout sunrise/sunset locations as well as another nighttime photography stunt. Tomorrow either the weather will get worse or fatigue will set in…
A great sun dawn, the Riffel Lake is not perfectly calm but nearly and the first light is hitting the Matterhorn. I feel a heavy load falling from my shoulders and being tired and worn out as I am, I feel I deserved to have gotten lucky at least once! Unlike most other photographers in this project, I will have to wait a couple weeks until I will see my results. Against my usual habit, I brought along a small digital pocket camera to provide the WILD WONDERS website with a few pics, but I almost always forgot it in the hut and for the few times I did not, the images will probably not be very exciting. I hope you’ll take my apologies…
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.