Is a beautiful and inspiring book of photographs, stories and drawings
describing “The Finest Climbs on the 4000m Peaks of the Alps”
(VERSION FRANCAISE Alpenglow, les plus belles courses sur les 4000 des Alpes – le livre est également disponible en version française. – https://www.bentibbetts.com/alps4000-fr/)
- Describes climbs on all 82 of the 4000m summits of the Alps
- Unique PENCIL DRAWINGS
- ACTION PHOTOS of every route
- Exquisite LANDSCAPE IMAGES of each mountain
- The author verified the quality and CLIMBED EACH ROUTE
- TOPO DESCRIPTIONS and details of optimal climbing conditions
I set out on this project not only to climb all the highest peaks of the Alps but to produce the most beautiful and fascinating book ever made about these mountains. I wanted to make something that redefined the genre, a book that is as full of stories as it is of art, a book of information and inspiration.
Rather than just placing my feet on these lofty summits, the real goal was to document the process so that it might inspire others on their own journeys, both in the mountains and in other walks of life.
Now I need your help – to bring the project to fruition and print the book!
I’m Ben and I work as an adventure photographer, artist and as an international certified (IFMGA) mountain guide. I have been climbing in the Alps for nearly two decades and have also worked for extensive periods in Antarctica and Greenland. I’ve climbed and skied new routes in the polar regions, Kyrgyzstan and the Alps.
“The photographs are sumptuous, inspirational, unique… the result of an obsessional effort to be in the right place at the right time. The historical research meticulous, the drawings beautiful and the texts capture the essential character of each route. Find a copy, feast your imagination, be in-spired…”
Victor Saunders, author, mountaineer & IFMGA mountain guide
“Tibbetts has produced a book that I find deeply impressive and inspiring. Bringing together route descriptions, historic content and the story of Tibbetts’s own journey… I find myself dreaming of climbing all these peaks…”
Kenton Cool, 13 times Everest summiteer, IFMGA mountain guide
“Alpenglow is a rare tome of climbing routes that have all been climbed by the author. Tibbetts’s first-hand experience on each of the highest summits of the Alps adds depth and insight, but it is undoubtably the dazzling alpine photography that sets this book apart from others.”
Colin Haley, mountaineer
Matterhorn drawing (15 x 10cm, with topo information overlay)
Whether you love looking at mountains, are an aspiring alpinist, or may already be 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 down and dream. This book is the product of over six years and 700 days of effort to climb, photograph and draw the highest peaks of the Alps. Through this journey I became the second Brit to climb all the 82 UIAA Alpine summits over 4000m high.
SEE MORE EXAMPLE PAGES: https://www.bentibbetts.com/alps4000/book-pages/
Though many of these peaks are already popular objectives, I have tried to find the most interesting or beautiful routes, rather than the easiest or most popular ways 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 and 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 ascents of these peaks.
The photography in the book is matched by a series of finely wrought pencil drawings. Several of these are available as luxury prints to complement the book.
Finsteraarhorn pencil drawing (12 x 8 cm)
The drawings for this project are usually smaller than a typical postcard. Each one 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 rarely use an eraser as once the marks are made they are too small and fragile to modify. Each drawing takes between 2 and 10 weeks to complete.
Monte Rosa East Face – Pencil drawing (15 x 10 cm)
(Prints of all the photographs are available to order from: bentibbettsphotography.com/)
The action photographs were all shot on location whilst climbing the routes. I work as a professional photographer and am passionate about getting the best shots possible for each route. Usually this means leaving the hut or bivouac obscenely early to get to the right spot for sunrise.
Over the duration of the project I have shot over 300,000 images. Even on the longest climbs I have carried a large full frame camera to ensure the highest image quality. Though we planned to climb each route in a spell of good weather, on many occasions the forecast was wrong, and we pushed through freezing temperatures and storm force winds to bring back these images.
Innominata Ridge, Mont Blanc
All of the landscape shots were shot from adjacent summits (no drones or helicopters involved!). Some of these were captured whilst climbing, but many required long journeys to esoteric locations to get the perfect shot. Sometimes, like the image below, this meant we were on the top of a remote mountain at sunset and faced with a long and complicated journey down in the dark!
Though this is my first book, I have been writing magazine articles and essays for over 15 years. The challenge of turning 50 expedition accounts into individual and compelling chapters has posed some interesting problems. To add depth and richness to many of the chapters, I have delved headlong into the historical archives to find the accounts of the first ascents, a labour that has been both fascinating and inspiring.
Mont Blanc at sunrise from Gran Paradiso
All of us understand and accept that mountaineering entails certain risks. Climbing all of these routes has been an incredible privilege and a profound adventure. Nevertheless there have been difficult times and hard lessons learnt along the way, all of which I have shared in the written stories. 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 to come back to the valley with deeper purpose and conviction.
Tom Coney on the Taschhorn Traverse
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, for better or worse, with the meaning of life. Even the process of asking questions has meaning and can provide a reason to carry on the search.
In these bizarre times where ‘pristine’ wilderness is still sold for pennies, an activity like climbing mountains (that may appear to be rather pointless) provides millions of us with simple joy and creates sense to our crazy lives. Please join me then, with your mountain boots or your reading glasses, in this passionate search for meaning. 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 myself to set out on a series of adventures. I hope that it encourages you to do likewise whatever type of mountain you want to climb – real or metaphorical.
Schreckhorn and Lauteraarhorn at sunset
– 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 me, 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. These drawings usually take between 2 and 10 weeks 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.