Last week I packed my things, joined 9 good friends, and drove the 600 something kilometers to the small village of Le Tour, in the Chamonix Valley, in the French Alps. It was my 3rd time visiting this magical place, each time with new people, challenges and experiences. This time I learned a bit more about the mountains, avalanches, and how humans really do not control everything.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon to our chalet, where about 50 cm of snow lay. I was happy, because we left Munich in 15 degree celsius weather, and only started to see snow when we climbed 1000 meters above sea level. Little did I know, that the snow that would fall over the next 3 days, would be more then I have ever seen before. We did not measure exactly how much, but over a meter fell over the next 48 hours. This left roads closed, public transportation cancelled, it boasted the avalanche warning to 5, very high, and it closed all ski lifts in the area.
Yes of course we still had had hydro, water, food and wood for our fire. No direct amenities were lacking in our daily lives, except access and mobility. This changes your perspective on things a lot. It slows downs your movements, and makes you think a lot about what it is that you really want to do. Read, cook, sleep, bath, do yoga? As modern people we are so tightly scheduled, organized, and accustomed to one way of moving and living. It rarely happens that nature stops us in our tracks, and doesn’t let us move and go where we wish. In our case, this meant trudging through over a 1 meter of fresh snow, which was only doable with skis or snowshoes. Four of us actually ended up spending 3 hours outdoors building a snow bar/fort all morning, like 12 year old children. We then proceeded to hang out, have drinks and dance outside in our snow gear all evening. I assume this would not have happened if we had not been limited to staying close to the chalet. After our big snow storm, on the 6th day, the clouds cleared, the blue sky revealed itself, most of the snow melted away, and we baked in the sun on the balcony ! Isn’t Life funny sometimes.
As I photographer, 80 percent of my work is done on a computer, 20 percent actually photographing. This is true for a lot of occupations these days. So, when I go on vacation, I try to keep my digital life to a bare minimum. I have my cell phone for emergencies, and for telephoning others, but I do not order data plans, bring my computer, ipad, etc. with me. Otherwise I know it will get used, abused, and I will not have a vacation from what I wanted in the first place. This seems to be a very hard task these days for so many people to do. Why is that? Are we so self conscious that we feel the need to be connected to others ( other than the people we are with ) at all times ? A few of us kept using the term Digital Detox, as a way to try to limit our screen time and usage. I have the feeling, that now, more than ever, this is a very important issue in our society. And we are the only ones that can control it. Where, when, and how long we stay connected, online and available is really only up to us.
Below you will see the images I took in the villages of Le Tour, Montroc, Argentiére and their surrounding mountains, glaciers and ski hills. A huge thanks to Mattheiu, Mathieu, Kathrin, Ann-Kathrin, Patrick, Patrick, Frederick, Fabio and Benjamin for yet again a wonderful week in Le Tour. I always look forward to this trip and all it gives me. Until next year!