Is the forthcoming large format book of photographs, stories and drawings
describing “The Finest Climbs on the 4000m Peaks of the Alps”
“ALPENGLOW” is a large format book of photographs, stories and drawings describing “The Finest Climbs on the 4000m Peaks of the Alps”
With a background as an IFMGA mountain guide, professional photographer and artist I set out on this project with the ambition to produce the most beautiful and fascinating book ever made about the Alps, about their highest summits and finest climbs. The real goal though, rather than just placing my feet on a series of beautiful and lofty summits, was to document the process so it might inspire others on their own journeys in the mountains or in other walks of life.
Now I need your help – to bring the project to fruition and print the book!
Whether you love looking at mountains, are an aspiring alpinist or already a veteran of many gnarly adventures, this book will provide a wealth of original and inspiring material to help plan your adventures… or to sit and dream. The book is the product of over six years of climbing and 700 days work to photograph and draw the 82 x 4000m peaks of the Alps.
The drawings for this project are usually smaller than a typical postcard. Each drawing is based on photographs and made with finely-sharpened pencils whilst looking through a magnifying glass.
I usually start each layer of detail from one side and work steadily to the other to avoid smudging the fragile image with my hands. I almost never use an eraser as once the marks are made they are too small and delicate to modify. Each drawing takes roughly 20-40 hours of to complete.
Though many of these peaks are already popular objectives I have tried to find the most interesting or beautiful route, rather than the easiest or most popular way to the summit. Some of these lines are already classics, but many of the routes I describe are esoteric and lesser known gems such as the Cresta Santa Caterina of Nordend or the North Ridge of the Dent du Géant that will lead you into the hidden side of the Alps.
When compiling the original list of routes, I took the advice from a plethora of mountain guides and local climbers to cover a broad spectrum of Alpine climbing styles and difficulty (from grades PD to ED). The routes feature everything from rock faces, mixed north faces, ridges and ski tours. The selection covers all the seasons and the info-sections provide detailed information on how to find the best conditions. Each route is illustrated by a wealth of climbing images from our ascent, landscape shots taken from adjacent summits and many have a hand drawn topo. Where possible I have delved into the historical archives to retrieve fascinating morsels of information about the first ascent.
Pre-order your SIGNED COPY now:
I am very grateful for everyone’s support in bringing this project to fruition. Pre-orders help me take the book to print – you will receive one of the first copies hot off the press!
Whether you hike, bike, ski, climb or paddle I’m guessing you care for our natural environment. Moreover I imagine you relish the patience, skill and humility that the mountains demand of you? Nevertheless mountains are inherently dangerous and throughout the last two decades of adventures I have constantly been reminded of the delicate line we tread.
Whilst training above Chamonix for the longest route of the project I was myself caught in an avalanche, buried under two metres of snow and stopped breathing. Though I have witnessed many terrible accidents none affected me so profoundly. It goes without saying that in the months that followed I was forced to ask myself questions not just about my personal acceptance of risk, but moreover, my responsibility to my friends and family.
No matter what stakes you are willing to lay on the table the mountains offer us infinite time and space to reflect, to experience an awesome and infinitely powerful environment. However all the while we watch the glaciers shrink day on day and perhaps it inspires some of us to action? I hope these quiet mountain routes can feed your desires and help you come back to the valley with deeper purpose and conviction.
Personally I find mountain climbing, like art, is about asking questions. Why go for adventure?, we might ask. Why make life more complicated than it already is? These questions are usually without answers – nevertheless I find that creativity often happens in the process of asking them. Exploring these unanswerable questions confronts us with the meaning of life. Somehow even the process of searching has meaning and provides a reason to carry on.
In these bizarre times where clowns become world leaders and pristine wilderness is sold for pennies, an activity like climbing mountains that may appear on the face of it as a rather pointless activity, provides millions of us with some simple joy and sense to our crazy lives. Please join me then, with your mountain boots or your reading glasses, in this passionate search. Let me guide you to the trailhead and into a series of journeys – the finest adventures that the high mountains of the Alps have to offer.
I conceived of this project to inspire and drive myself to set out of the house on a series of adventures. I hope that it encourages you to do likewise, to be your best, whatever type of mountain you want to climb – real or imagined.
This project has given me over 700 days of climbing, photography, writing and research, and twice that again in days of reflection. It has allowed me over 500 hours of drawing – so I thank you all, those who support me on the lucid world of social media, those who have sent messages, and those with whom I have shared time in the mountains. Thanks for your help, support and encouragement.
To help finish this project, and allow me to continue creating work, please support me by purchasing a book, print or photograph for yourself or a friend!
– Topos –
“Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.” Henri Cartier-Bresson
Q: Do the routes go over every 4000m peak?
A: Yes, they provide access to each of the UIAA list of 82 summits. Some of the routes are long traverses that go over several peaks. However, on some exceptional mountains, like Mont Blanc, there are several different routes.
Q: How many people have climbed the entire UIAA list of 4000m Alpine summits?
A: As it is a very personal challenge there are no precise records of this, however, I estimate that only about 150 people have climbed them all – far fewer than have climbed Everest. In finishing the list, I became the second Brit to complete all the UIAA 4000m summits.
Q: Who took the photos?
A: All photos, drawings and text are by Ben. My partner, Valentine Fabre, has been instrumental to the project as we climbed 25 of the routes together!
Q: Did you use helicopters or drones for some of the shots?
A: Hell no! All photos are taken from terrestrial locations. Nevertheless some of the drawings and topos are from aerial locations (where I was unable to show the route from a land based location), based on the images of friends and colleagues, and sometimes combined with satellite imagery and terrain models.
Q: Are any of the photos available as prints?
A: Yes, all of the photos can be found on my website (www.bentibbettsphotography.com) and prints are delivered worldwide.
Q: How do you do the drawings?
A: The drawings are based on photographs and are made using very fine pencils and patient work under a magnifying glass. Drawings take between 15 and 100 hours to complete!
Q: Are the drawings for sale?
A: I’m keeping hold of the originals for the moment, however, I have prints for sale HERE. I plan to exhibit the whole series of drawings together.
Q: Where is the book for sale?
A: For the moment, preorder is just available on my website. The book will be released in April and then should be available at bookstores and climbing shops in Europe.
Q: Why preorder?
A: Be the first to get the book – I will send all the preorders before the book hits the shelves… but more importantly, help me make this happen! Thankfully I’ve already done most of the legwork, I just need a little help taking this to print (which is going to cost about £30,000…!) I see the name and address of every order and it makes me smile to know where it is going – I really am very grateful for your support!
Q: Is the full list of routes available?
A: For the moment I am not publishing it, in case I swap out one route for another in the next couple of months…! Hang in there… I’ll have it ready soon enough!
Q: How big is the book?
A: Around 280 pages. Hardcover 30x25cm (c.11.5 x 9.5 inches). Printed on thick quality paper stock and using the highest quality offset print specifications.