Its not every day you get an email saying that one of the biggest outdoor adventure companies in the world want to book you for a photoshoot. When I’d picked myself up of the floor and sorted out the details , The North face and Glenmore Lodge were looking to do a combined shoot of various mountain sports based in the Cairngorms. We planned this originally to happen in the first week of March , but planning anything in the outdoors in Scotland is Russian roulette with the weather . As it happened , winds were gusting up to 100mph , fresh snow, zero visibility and high avalanche risk meant we ditched it after the first day and rescheduled.
But , the rescheduled dates were in early April which can be the best time for ice climbing on the Ben , with the cycle of freeze/thaw finally giving perfect conditions. However , this was a photoshoot , so nothing was going to be that predictable. Temepratures had been high and stripped any ice from the N Corries which were now bare rock with not the right look for a winter climbing shoot . We had planned 4 days of shooting and there were glimpses of light over the first 3 days but nothing really that looked like winter climbing.
I envy photographers that get to shoot in the stable climes of the Alps , of course you can get rubbish weather there but its a little more predictable and the sun tends to shine for more than 2 mins in a day ! Scotland is a law all to itself when it comes to weather. Joining us for the 4 days were some of the instructors from the Lodge and Simon Fisher , the marketing manager and I could see him nervously wondering if we were going to be able to get the conditions , I was to !!
By the end of the third day , my ankle was in a bucket of ice , trying to reduce inflammation around the joint from old injuries . Mostly its okay and doesn’t bother me but 6-8 hour days in the mountains were starting to hurt and we had one last chance to try and get something in the bag .
We set of from the car park early . I had a flight to catch from Glasgow later that day and we had to get in a 7 hour day before I set off from the Lodge at 2pm for my flight . It was windy and also cold and as we started gaining height , there was a definite whiteness to the rocks, which in the previous days had been bare and black. There was even a sense that it may even look wintery ! Sam and Jonny were going to be climbing and we were heading up to the ‘Vent ‘ a deep gully at the E end of Corrie an Lochan . Conditions were almost perfect , bomber snow ice , rimed up rock , and of course the ballistic winds which were funnelling up the Vent . It really was one of those ‘Thank God for that ‘ days . How do you try and explain to the client that the shoot didn’t quite work out because it wasn’t really wintery enough ? But we were lucky , we managed to catch winters last fling and I got my shot , phew !