A few years ago, it was my brother-in-law’s 50th birthday. In celebration, he invited a group of friends and family for a week of skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland.
This is the town of Zermatt, which has a beautiful rocky stream running through its center. That’s the Matterhorn, blazing white in the morning light.
I hadn’t skied in twenty years, but I wasn’t worried about that. I had a bigger question: how was I going to take a camera skiing with me? My Diana camera no less, loaded with film, with its thin plastic body held together by tape? Was this a dumb idea?
Why not give it a whirl? I wanted to take pictures from as high up on the slopes as possible, and tucked my camera into my jacket, the film side of the camera flat against my belly for warmth. Luckily my ski jacket had a tight closure along the bottom, so at least the camera wouldn’t fall out.
Here’s the Matterhorn. It was wild to ski past this iconic mountain. Look at the cloud hanging out just in front of it! The summit of the Matterhorn is 14,670 feet high and its four faces face the compass points. It’s one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps; more than 500 people have died trying to climb its slopes.
I wasn’t worried about my death, I was worried about the death of my camera if I fell over and squished it. Here’s another photo of the Matterhorn from a different angle.
As someone who grew up in Montreal and learned to ski as a child, where our instruction included how to ski safely over rippled sheets of ice, I’d never encountered powder before. This snow was like icing on a cake, thick, white vanilla frosting, rich and creamy, luxurious and lush. With no ice to skitter over, I was skiing in slow motion. Besides making me hungry for baked goods, this snow meant that falling over ended in a soft, pillowy landing. There was no rock-hard ice to smack down onto, just acres of sumptuous softness. My camera was safe!
This view is looking toward Gornergrat, the mountain to the northeast, where we skied on our first day.
The trouble with shooting landscapes like this is the lack of scale. Is that a pebble or a boulder? Still, I like the textures of the rocks and snow.
Here’s the cliff I didn’t fall over.
And the view of the valley, Zermatt with its snow-covered rooftops nestled below.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever go skiing in a place like this again, but it was good to know that as long as I was skiing on snow like this, my camera would live a long, adventurous life.