Trekking up to the top of a lift to watch the sunrise was a goal I had before coming out here on a ski season but i thought of it as a bit like a goal to complete the London marathon – completely un bloody realistic and had the likelihood of killing me before I finished anyway.
But, on the 13th April, at 5:45am, I made it 2,695 metres up to the top of the Toviere Gondola along with two of my co-workers. It was freezing and I was mildly concerned that frostbite was an imminent threat. We couldn’t have timed it more perfectly, the moon was full and so all the light we needed was cast down on us from the midnight blue sky.
To the east, on the horizon, the deep navy is giving way to softer hues of dusky orange and yellow, the time is coming.
*DISCLAIMER*: Before any of you hiker snobs make any remarks – no i didn’t trek the ENTIRE 2,695 metres, calm down, that would be ridiculous. We started at resort level of 2,100 and so climbed almost 600 metres up.
I’ll admit, parts of the two hour trek up felt somewhat reminiscent of a horror film – three young adventurers alone in the dramatic exposed landscape, I didn’t know what to fear most, the possibility of an avalanche, some crazed piste-basher mass murderer or perhaps a yeti/ Unfriendly pack of European wolves. (Slightly irrational, I know.)
It was hard – about 50 metres in I was ready to admit defeat and go back to my nice warm bed, but somehow I found myself trudging on, sweating and breathing so hard that a tight ball of pain was forming in the centre of my chest. We made reference points for quick breaks, mainly every 3rd snow canon we reached. Faces covered in a desperate sheen visible in the moonlight, bodies weary but minds exhilarated, we glanced at each other and breathed; ‘to the third’.
Now the sun is pursuing the moon, and the giant pearly sphere is descending into a deep lilac haze behind the western peaks. To the east, orange and salmon pink rip into the skyline bringing light and warmth with them.
It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful natural phenomenon happens everyday and here we all are continuing like oblivious ants underneath it.
Staring into the bright ascending sun has a power to make you feel incredibly insignificant – especially also being surrounded by vast snow-covered mountains. The fact that such a dark, eerie place is transformed within an hour to a golden paradise which looks like how I can only imagine heaven to look is overwhelming.
Throughout this trek (ordeal) I often stood to enjoy the silence – absolute dead silence seemed impossible in so much space, but there we were, the three of us, standing with nothing but our backpacks and snowboards and some essential snacks (obviously).
Although we walked up pisted terrain, and were always in view of Tignes resort centre below us; just the sheer desolation of the mountains at 3am is the closest to the complete wild I have ever been, and it was exhilarating.
The amazing photos in this blog were taken by a mysterious local legend named Dr John Clark.