by Harry Martin
My alarm goes off at 6am, and I reluctantly pull myself from underneath the warm covers - the air is cold inside the refuge, it feels like one of those cool, crisp, clear mornings. The other photographers in our group rouse themselves as they hear me clattering around gathering camera, tripod and warm layers. Waiting outside, seeing a nice blue sky I enjoy the promise of a good morning of photography to come.
My colleague Marcus joins me and we await the rest of our group before setting off on a short walk to a nearby viewpoint. Staying on top of the peaks in the Dolomites, sleeping in comfortable refuges with hearty European cuisine and beer on tap, puts us in the perfect places to enjoy sunrise and sunset, without having to walk to far early in the morning.
Arriving at our desired viewpoint, exclaims of “oh wow”, murmur around as our guests soak in the views. Tripods are readied and cameras eagerly primed as the sky starts to light up. Running between people we check everyone is set and ready as the sun appears above the horizon, bathing the spectacular peaks surrounding us in beautiful warm red light. Shutters click, and happy noises emanate from happy photographers as they see their images on the backs of their cameras. We spend an hour and a half making use of different viewpoints, compositions and photographic possibilities before the rumble of hungry stomachs draws us back towards the refuge and breakfast.
Talk over breakfast is dominated by the great conditions of the morning, but soon our next destination is calling. We pack up and start the 1.5 hour walk back to the cable car that takes us back to the bottom of the mountain, and to our luxury air-conditioned minibus (the AC is a lifesaver in the hot midday sun!). The higher altitude experienced in the Dolomites means we burn energy more quickly than at sea level so as we drive towards our next hike, and mountain-top accommodation, we make the quick diversion to a local pizzeria. Sitting in the sunshine, sipping cold water and feasting on fresh, authentic Italian pizza - if only I could eat like this every day!
We set off mid-afternoon on our next walk, a slightly flatter, easier going jaunt with impressive views of surrounding ridges and limestone cliff faces that dominate this part of the Alps. Making sure we have plenty of time means we don't need to rush, soaking in the surrounds and not tiring ourselves out too much. We reach our next refuge and drop off all our unnecessary items, excitedly heading straight back out with the cameras to enjoy the late afternoon light. With clouds forming as we watch we're suddenly concerned our chances of a good sunset might be scuppered. We needn’t worry though, with good breaks in the cloud the mountains remain bathed in light, with dramatic fingers of God breaking through with a touch of colour fringing the sky above us.
With the light fading we return to the refuge, cold beers earned and big plates of Italian cuisine to refuel aching legs. Soon enough yawns spread through the group contagiously, so we call it a day - another good day.
We run our annual trip to the Dolomites every September. Keep an eye out for the annoncement of our 2018 trip, or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to get the details.