Making of 40 Photographs #14

This is #14 in my series ‘Making of 40 Photographs’. Mount Fitzroy in the far north region of Los Glaciares national park, is a mountaineering mecca. For me, it is a place to test the soul and I've often found myself questioning 'why' I do photography when I'm here.

The weather is so unpredictable, regardless of season. Situated on the very edge of the southern Patagonian ice cap (the third largest body of ice in the world), it has its fair share of inclement weather, storms and sometimes, just sometimes, stunning light.

You may have already heard my account of making an image of Cerro Torre. This is all part of the same landscape and one which I am truly in love with, but it has cost me in frustration and poor health when I return home. You see for me, I don't know quite when to stop when I'm trying to make certain images. I'd so wanted to shoot this and get that run red glow. You see it on all the tourist brochures and it does happen here from time to time, but for me - it was elusive.

So on my fourth trip to this part of the world, I had to stick it out and wait. This view point is called 'Laguna de los Tres', and it's at the top of a strenuous 1 hour hike. I don't mind the hiking, but from previous experiences I'd known that this trip can be a little daunting in the dark, even with a head torch on. So thie time I came prepared with a pretty big head torch. The last time I'd been here, my companion who was from the US had completely freaked me out about 'mountain lions', otherwise known as 'Puma' here in Los Glaciares. They are here, but they're endangered. Even so, my last effort at climbing this hill in the dark had been troubled by thoughts of the nocturnal Puma lying in the scrub. Needless to say, my companion had put the wind up me, and I never made it through the forest at the base of the climb.

So this time I was determined that if I got a clear morning, I was going to do the climb. But when I got there, a lot of snow had been dumped a few days beforehand and many tourists had (stupidly) climbed the hill with unsuitable shoes. The path was now very slippery and even with my head torch on, I felt that it was madness to carry on.

The one thing that did help me this time was my choice of companion. Just before setting off in the morning, I heard an alarm clock going off in the adjacent tent and realised that I would not be alone on the ascent. My companion - Bartos, a much younger man than myself, an enthusiastic Pole, encouraged me to start climbing and he said he'd catch me up.Which is exactly what he did do. We both got there well before sunrise and I was never so happy to have company. Bartos brought up a flask and breakfast as well as a picnic mat.

While we were waiting for the light to hit the eastern face of Fitzroy we debated whether sunrise had passed or not. I was sure we'd missed it but he was adamant that it was still to come. I'm glad he was there to keep me straight as this shot happened almost 1 hour later than I'd anticipated.

Thank you Bartos.