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The Adventure Journals

Bernina Alps: The Liberation of Having No Objectives

Hiking, climbing, mountaineering are all activities that so often come with the pressure of achieving a predetermined objective. Summit fever, glorious accomplishment, and crushing disappointment can quickly take control, leaving only enduring memories of success or failure.

For mountain guides like Ben, this focus on achieving goals can become all-consuming. Without taking the time to consciously appreciating them, hills can quickly become nothing more than a series of ticks and logbook entries.

That’s why each year Ben takes some time to explore a new area of the Alps with his dad. They choose a location, pack a bag, make a rough itinerary and set off in search of the missing element to so many alpine adventures, an appreciation of the peaceful, wild and quiet side of the Alps.

Each year my father and I usually head out to explore some corner of the Alps I haven’t visited before. Being a mountain guide it’s both an adventure and research. This year we chose and quiet area of Northern Italy, not too far from Piz Bernini.

I find even the idea of going exploring really refreshing. Riffling through maps, planning routes, cols and nights in remote refuges. It is easy to think that the Alps are so worn into the groove of tourism that no wilderness can be found, but the truth is it's relatively easy to find enormous tracts of land can be traversed with little contact with the trappings of society.

When meandering in the mountains, without specific routes or objectives in mind, the anticipation of each horizon fills me with a rush of quiet euphoria. I savour each revelation as the landscape unfolds. This provides a rhythm to these mountain days. It turns the activity into a story.

Rain tapped politely on the tin roof. The beams were the full round lengths of a mature larch trunk, each over a foot thick and vastly oversized for the stature of a small cabin. The blankets had that characteristic itch, and the pillows have a mild odour of disuse, or maybe overuse. Even mildew and the passage of innumerable bodies somehow takes on a comforting aspect when one has taken a good walk and carried provisions up the mountain.

With each snowfall a new high water mark is drawn across the landscape, valley after valley. The lines are clear, like a statement of intent. The changing colours and softening light seduce me out to chase the morning light and search for new angles on these well visited and well-photographed landscapes.

I always wonder why everyone takes their holidays at the same time – do we all prefer to climb together and on top of each other?

Packs Used

Cholatse 45

Cholatse 45

45lt | 69 x 35 x 33cm | 1.49kg

Move fast, pack less and stay comfortable. The 45L capacity is enough for all the essentials on short, multi-day adventures. Hidden lash points and dual compartments make this the ideal modern adventure companion.

AirZone Pro+ 35:45

AzureBlackOxideShaded Spruce

AirZone Pro+ 35:45

35 + 10lt | 68 x 34 x 34cm | 1.65kg

The AirZone Centro adjustable back, side entry, tough fabric and our AdaptiveFit harness and hipbelt make the AirZone Pro+ the perfect pack for 4-season hillwalkers and lightweight trekking enthusiasts.

AirZone Pro+ ND 33:40

AirZone Pro+ ND 33:40

33 + 7lt | 63 x 34 x 31cm | 1.54kg

The AirZone Centro adjustable back, side entry, tough fabric and our AdaptiveFit harness and hipbelt make the AirZone Pro the perfect pack for 4-season hillwalkers and lightweight trekking enthusiasts.


Words and images By

Ben Tibbetts

Ben Tibbetts is an internationally renowned photographer and mountain guide based in Chamonix. With over 15 winter seasons of climbing, guiding and capturing stunning images in the Alps, Ben’s experience and knowledge of alpine environments is second to none.

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