Between Heaven and Earth – A Wintry Micro-Adventure in the Swiss Alps


IN SEARCH OF PRISTINE SNOWY LANDSCAPES AND PERFECT WIND CONDITIONS, LAST WINTER, OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER JEAN-LUC GROSSMANN AND HIS BROTHER SYLVAIN EXPLORED WITH KITES AND SLEDGES DURING A THREE-DAY MICRO ADVENTURE THE REGION OF THE IMPOSING SAN BERNARDINO PASS.

★ Photography & Words : Jean-Luc Grossmann

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Spending time outdoors is a humbling and inspiring experience. From the adventurer embarking on a daredevil expedition mastering the greatest physical challenges, to a group of friends sitting around the blazing warmth of a campfire on a cold night, there are countless opportunities to enjoy our expanses.

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Winter was back and with it the promise of new adventures. It was time to set out again to feel the power and beauty of nature. When we reach the plateau after 4 hours of ascent from the north side, our legs feel tired and heavy. About 40 cm of fresh snow fell overnight and our sledges, laden with kites, camping and photographic equipment, are difficult to move across the deep snow.

Arriving on the pass, a breathtaking backdrop reveals itself to us. Mighty mountain peaks shine through the morning sun. The pristine snow glistens like a carpet of millions of ice crystals and we admire the enchanting play of light for a while. All around opens a huge backcountry area that seems kite-technically perfectly located. We discover countless hollows and rocky outcrops, which can be used as natural obstacles. The landscape smiles at us and a wind of freedom is blowing. Once again I realize that short adventures, even on our own doorstep, can spark a deep happiness.

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The next morning I leave the comforting warmth of my sleeping bag as the first rays of sunshine illuminate the tent. It is a beautiful day with blue skies enveloping the white sugared mountains. With a smile and a cup of coffee in his hand, my brother is sitting on his sledge looking north – the wind there is getting stronger. A little later, the kites are ready to go and we can start our session. Sylvain is off in no time and glides up the mountain sides and down again at breakneck speed as I prepare my camera. As he jumps and rises almost weightless into the air for a brief moment, his cry of joy is immediately blown away by the wind. Clouds rise and dance towards the mountain peaks. The wind whips my face and there is no place in the world where I would rather be at that moment.

Even if the wintry photographic conditions are anything but easy, to work as an outdoor photographer is a thrilling experience. In the evening, after a long and intense day, I say to myself, while my camera is back in its safe place in my backpack, “I love my job, that’s what I live for.”

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