Imagine being tasked with the job of getting thousands of soldiers safely across this terrain, out of sight from the enemy. That was the challenge faced by military commanders as battles raged across the Dolomites during the First World War. The solution they came up with was nothing short of ingenious; make the mountains climbable and accessible to troops using cables, wires, and metal rungs. Those via ferratas (“iron roads”) are still in place and now lead climbers and mountaineers to some of the greatest summits in the Alps.

Reblogged from National Geographic


“I was in awe of Mathis’s grace and fluidity on what was obviously an extremely difficult climbing sequence,” says photographer Alexandre Buisse of the shot he took of French climber Mathis Dumas hanging upside down in the Mer de Glace ice cave in Chamonix, France.

Getting into place was relatively simple according to Buisse. “It’s a short train ride up to Montenvers, then a short hike down to the glacier level,” he recalls. “It is too steep to put ice screws on lead, especially on hard, old glacial ice, so Mathis aided up the intended route. He then gave the route a few attempts before finally linking it.” Buisse notes that once Dumas started climbing, it was simply a matter of waiting for him to make an elegant move. “I used a studio light to add some fill flash in the shadows, but other than that, I mostly relied on the strong natural light coming from the outside, which created a lovely texture on the ice.”

Reblogged from National Geographic

The cold way up

“Climbing ancient glacial ice under the stars is one thing, but to have the aurora dance over our heads at the same time was unbelievable,” photographer Paul Zizka says of this shot he took of climber Raf Andronowski and belayer Jeff Thom. The two were ice climbing under the aurora borealis on the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. “I arranged to meet at the cave with Andronowski and Thom, but arrived quite a bit before they did,” Zizka says. “While I was there alone the sky exploded. I crossed my fingers to have the show go on until the arrival of the climbers, and more importantly, I proceeded to scout out different compositions so that we could proceed efficiently once they arrived.”

Zizka’s preparation paid off. Once his friends arrived, he told them where to go to get the best image. “I’ve worked with these skilled climbers before, so they know what they need to do and are very good at holding still,” he says. “The climbing itself was also extremely challenging. Both climbers are very experienced and commented that the severely overhanging, extremely brittle ice afforded some of the hardest climbing they had ever done.”
Reblogged from National Geographic