Summer in the Mountains - 2021

A summer full of rain, but.....

We saw lots of rain in Bavaria and the alps south of Munich and it was often very could. It was more an autumn than the summer we had been used to for the last years.

In a couple of days I start for a four weeks trip to Iceland and Greenland. Lets hope this is the beginning of a "new travel normality" for the next years. You need vaccination and tests, but travel is possible again.

It was very strange to pack all the equipment again, especially as we need tent and camping equipment for the crossing of the icelandic highlands. All had to be checked, because it was unused for such a long time. Moreover I changed my MF camera equipment and lots of testing was necessary, as the new lenses just did not stand up to the sensor and had to be changed and serviced serveral times. I still do not have the lenses I want, but at least I have something I can work with. A very poor performace of the service. Changing to a new system can be very frustrating.

Most of the pictures made with the new lenses are clipped at the edges or corners, because of heavy blurring! Shame on Fuji....

I wanted to be in the mountains much more often and longer, but due to the weather only day trips had been an option. As usual there is an exception to the rule! We had a splended week, I guess it was the best of the summer, in Obergurgl in the Oetztal valley in the Austrian Alps. All sun, only a few short and harmless thunderstorms during late evening. It could not have been better!

The Isar valley and the Karwendel Mts. had been my regular lens testing ground. I prefer to test equipment at destinations I know and I do the tests during my standard shooting routine. Testing lenses at brickwalls may be nice and easy, but it does not give you the full "picture", which is needed to assess and judge a lens.

The Eng and the Valley of the Rissbach

The Eng is an awesome place just as the valley you have to drive before you arrive in the Eng. It is a peculiar place as well as it is austrian territorry, but the only road into this valley is from Germany. It is a regular destination for bus tours and therefore often crowded. As there are still very few bus tours, I had a wonderful quiet afternoon and evening in this area! It really deserves its reputation as one of the "best" valleys in the eastern alps.

Hinterriss and Isar valley

From the city of Bad Toelz southward the river Isar is flowing through a wide valley, to wide for the river. Most of the water is diverted for energy production in the Walchensee Plant and flows back to the Isar north of Bad Toelz. It is a nice place, not as spectacular as the Eng and more diffucult to photograph. Once I was there after one of the severe floods we had this summer and the valley still looked very wild and untouched. Lots of dead trees and other debris was piling up and you can imagine how wild this river was, before the Walchensee diversion and the Sylvenstein Reservoir. Still a good place to be.

At Hinterriss the quite untouched Rissbach (it looses as well some water for a power plant....) is flowing into the bigger Isar. Normally water is flowing only in the gravel, very typical for such alpine torrents, but at this day I saw for the first time more than a trickle.... It must have been a huge flooding! some parts of the road to the Eng was damaged as well. As I said it was a wet summer!

Obergurgl and Vent and its alpine valleys in the Oetztal

This was the week of the summer, sun all day and only a few drops of rain during two evenings! We had a lovely appartment in Obergurgl, highly remommended! We arrived after a long period of rain and all alpine rivers and creeks had been still full of water and at arrival the clouds still hid the peaks.

But already during the next days we had sun, sometimes dramatic clouds, sometimes postcard like blue skies. Obergurgl is is located at the very end of the Oetztal Valley and gives access to 5 alpine valleys in the shadow of mountains higher than 3500m. The glaciers are still nice, but nothing compared to the 80ies, when I had a 7 day course on alpine botany in the Science Center of an austrian university in Obergurgl.

A cable car makes the access to some of the valleys a bit easier, very welcome, if you have photo gear. It is just a great location for a week full of photography and hiking. The village Vent is close and just a 25min drive away and after driving across the Timmelsjoch you are already in South Tyrol. It is just a great place.

The sheep and the horses

There was another reason to visit Obergurgl again, its lovely herd of Haflinger horses and the alpine sheep (Tiroler Bergschaf). In one of the valleys a nice herd of haflinger horses is roaming completly free, no fences no nothing. You never know where they are and you have to be lucky to find them and even more lucky to find them on a beautiful spot. I was lucky, perfect spot, perfect light! All the other days they stayed on the other side of the glacial river, which is very hard to cross.

The horses are used to people and are really lovely creatures, if you approach slowly and carefully they tolerate you. It is an awesome place for horse photography.

I have a sweet spot for the Tyrolian Mountain Sheep since I covered their annual trek across the alpine ridge from South Tyrol into the Oetztal! Check out my Blog from a couple of years ago! In most of the valleys you will find some group of sheeps, often like ibex in the very steep grass of the valleys.

Landscape

The landscape is dominated by glaciers and their activity during the last thousands of years. Even if most of the glaciers are a shadow of their former self, it is still an awsome and archaic landscape. It is a great hiking area and if you want to do alpine climbs or Via Ferratas you will have no shortage of choices!

Have a look!

Vent and Seebersee

Vent found its way on the international maps because of Iceman Oetzi, who was found at the very end of one of the valleys leading up from Vent to one of the mountain passes to valley Schnalstal in Italy. Vent is a lovely place, it was once, before all the artificial ski resorts where founded, the highest permanently inhabited village in Austria, or to be more precise, the Rofenhof (see picture) was the highest year round farmed farm in, I think, the whole eastern Alps on the north side of the alpine crest. Before tourism and skiing began, it was a poor area, just like Obergurgl.

Without tourism, summer and winter, probably none of these villages would have survived.

We also crossed Timmelsjoch once and visited Lake Seebersee to see the mountains of Obergurgl from the south. It was a very nice excursion and definitly one of the nicest valleys I have been in this area. Perhaps next time we should stay south of the alpine crest? It is good to have options.....

What is next?

Iceland and Greenland is calling! Bags are not yet packed but in a bit more than three days we will be in Iceland! After Iceland I will visit Eastern Greenland for a week. It feels strange to pack all the equipment again.

We will cross the highlands of Iceland on one some of the rougher tracks, lets keep the fingers crossed that the icelandic weather will treat us nice! Greenland will be a bit of an adventure as well, as over there it will be either late autumn or early winter. Fresh snow on the mountain tops and perhaps the first thin sea ice in the fjords. Lots of new things and places to explore!

 

 

The final word in german, next workshops

Unser Stand auf der Fotomesse in Fürstenfeld/Fürstenfeldbruck war gut besucht. Vor allem Falkland/Südgeorgien/Antarktis aber auch die Grönlandreisen wurden oft mit den Besuchern am Stand besprochen. Es ist auch immer schön direkt mit Interessenten zu sprechen und nicht nur über websites, mail oder Telefon.

Das Sommerprogramm 2022 führt uns nach Grönland und Island. Drei sehr spannende Reisen! Islands Westfjorde sind ein einsames Fjordland mit einsamen Stränden (nicht so wie in Vik.....), wilden Pässen und Hochebenen. Und dann gibts noch den Dynjandi, den viele für den schönsten Wasserfall Islands halten! Wir fahren im Herbst, eine gute Möglichkeit neben der Landschaft auch Nordlicht zu sehen und zu fotografieren.

Im Westen Grönlands besuchen wir neben dem touristischen Zentrum Ilulissat noch zwei andere Regionen, die seltener oder (fast) nie von Touristen besucht werden. Es ist eine intensive Tour, die unterschiedliche Landschaften und Orte beinhaltet. Dazu gehört auch wieder Uummannaq meine Lieblingsregion in Grönland. Die Ostgrönlandtour beschäftigt sich intensiv mit einer Region, dem Fjordland um Tasiilaq. Einfach einmal in die Beschreibung schauen.....

Dann abschließend noch ein Wort zur Falkland/Südgeorgien/Antarktis Reise in 2023. Wer sich dafür interessiert, muss sich sehr zügig mit Jürgen Stock in Verbindung setzen. Wir haben schon eine lange Liste mit Interessenten und die Plätze sind begrenzt!

 

 

Unsere Fotoreisen und Foto-Workshops

Ein Klick auf die Reise bringt Sie zu einer Beschreibung der Reise. Dabei steht weniger der Reiseverlauf sondern was wie und wo fotografiert wird im Vordergrund. Der eigentliche Reiseverlauf und die Konditionen werden über links zu Auf Kurs! Inselreisen erreicht. Man kann sich natürlich auch gleich den ganzen Katalog holen (bitte Corona-bedingte Änderungen bei J. Stock nachfragen)!

Thats it for the moment! Stay tuned and healthy!

Munich September 2021