Felix Reed: Climbing Mont Blanc
Bologna-based photographer Felix Reed is an avid hiker and loves capturing images from beautiful mountain tops. Recently, Felix completed a long-time goal of his and a personal project at the same time. He decided to climb Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe and one of the highest fatality-rated mountains in all of Europe. Felix does not usually hike at extreme altitudes, but taking on this sort of challenge was something he had been looking forward to for a long time. He has already seen and captured the breathtaking views from the Dolomites and Alps in Italy, but he knew the scenes atop this mountain would provide another level of beauty.
Felix's primary goal was to safely summit the mountain and then capture great images of mountaineers climbing and hiking in the snow amongst the beautiful peaks. Because this hike is such a difficult feat, you can imagine there was a lot of pre-planning that went into this undertaking. Felix knew he needed to limit the amount of equipment he brought with him. Apart from a camera body and two lenses, Felix also brought a battery powered flash just to be sure he was covered. He didn’t end up having to use it because the ambient light was gorgeous on its own.
For the shooting/trek, he booked three mountain guides, two of them to act as models and one of them to keep himself and his assistant safe. The hike began by taking a cableway from Courmayeur to Punta Helbronner at almost 3500 meters. From there, they moved along the main glacier roped together.
That day the weather was amazing, with a clear blue sky and almost no wind. Nonetheless, the temperature was still -5°C, and you had to constantly move around to keep yourself warm.
The previous evening, Felix and his assistant had the chance to discuss their desires with the guides and agreed on the precise shots they wanted to get once they were on the top of the mountain. Felix knew they would only have a small window to capture the images, so he needed to be prepared beforehand. The two guides proved to be great models and were able to execute the shots Felix had envisioned.
Shooting those guys on the top of those peaks was really amazing and it was almost impossible to make a bad picture in that kind of scenario.
The primary challenge, apart from the cold temperatures and always walking on a lot of snow and ice, was the lack of oxygen over 3000 meters. The photo shoot didn’t last that long because of this. After three hours or so they had to head back down the mountain. Luckily Felix was very satisfied with the results he captured. Felix and the team were at more than 3500 meters, and they did not have the time to get used to that altitude. Usually, when climbing mountains, it's important to move up gradually to let your body acclimatize to the new level of oxygen available, but they didn't have time to follow that guideline. By the time he had finished up shooting, Felix was struggling a lot with the lack of oxygen.
After three hours of walking and shooting up there I felt dizzy and weak. I was clearly feeling the lack of oxygen despite the fact that I was trying to breathe deeply.
With the help of the guides, Felix and his assistant managed to get back to the cableway and the safety of a lower altitude.
Felix enjoyed the whole project and how all the images combined to tell a story of passion and adventure. His favorite part though was hiking on the glaciers and the photos he captured.
Even though they could seem like simple shots, I really love the incredible scenery and panorama of Mont Blanc, I really left my heart there!
Felix was extremely thankful to the three guides for all their help. Two of the guides did an excellent job modeling for the photos, and the third guide did a fantastic job keeping Felix and his assistant safe at all times. The project was everything Felix imagined, and he hopes to redo the climb with these guides, but without the camera equipment and rapid pace.
The images have been receiving a lot of positive feedback. Everyone seems awe-struck by the beauty of Mont Blanc, but they are also extremely impressed that Felix was able to climb one of the highest fatality-rated mountains to attain the images. This type of photography is very intriguing to Felix, and he hopes to add more projects similar to this one to his portfolio.
See more of Felix at felixreed.com!
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