Ian Finch reflects on what draws him, as an adventure photographer, to the Austrian Alps
I’ve always wondered why our inclination is to first look to the far corners of the earth for adventure. For places that eyes have seldom seen and regions where soil is free of modern footprints. When just a few hours from the UK, we have landscapes like Austria’s.
Wherever you look, Austria is a landscape of eternal layers and ancient pyramid outlines. Fertile alpine pastures adorned with wooden huts, nestle below towering peaks waiting for the depth and contrast of winter. A spine of geological formations runs through the country luring those with a thirst for grandeur from the flat valleys into the higher altitudes and beyond the snowline.
Amongst the lower peaks in the 3000m ranges, steep meandering trails lead hikers to summit vantage points and vistas that resemble the alpine paradises that live in our thoughts. It’s here where locals, visitors and friends taste the high meadows and rock formations that are Austria’s natural masterpieces.
Up on those summits is where I feel most at home. From the decision and challenge of the climb to the momentary success of the rocks’ highest point, there is a peace here. But the true experience and meaning of the climb arrives in the fragile morning hours. It’s here, where my tent has been pitched through the night and battered by the winds, that I’m awake. While everyone sleeps in the valley below there are a few of us, up and waiting in the changing alpine air for the first shards of sun and the reaching arms of warmth.
We are waiting for the show to end all shows, the exclusivity of a mountain sunrise in the Alps. This, to me, is the lure of Austria.