We recently provided kit to mountaineer and artist Susan Dobson who has just returned from a drawing trip to the Alps and Dolomites. Here Susan gives us an account of adventure!
I love my Berghaus Arête 30 Extrem rucksack. It’s travelled so many mountain paths with me in remote and beautiful places.
In February we had planned to spend a week or so based at Rongbuk, in Tibet, exploring around and above Everest North Base Camp. I want to get some views of Everest and the surrounding mountains as part of my research for an exhibition next year. It will run alongside a Newcastle University conference, ‘Modernist Mountaineering: Climbing and Culture 1890 – 1940’. Tibet is the obvious place to go to get a sense of the early attempts on Everest – the only way in for expeditions at that time.
All set up with a lovely new Berghaus Liskamm Down Jacket and state of the art Argentium baselayer tights (thank you Berghaus) to keep me warm working in the bitter winds of the Tibetan plateau.
A week to go and our Sherpa, Lakpa tells us the Chinese won’t grant permits because of the political situation so trip postponed until the autumn.
So where to take my rucksack now? Well head for Switzerland and the Matterhorn of course! Its first ascent was made in 1865 by a party led by Edward Whymper. The north face was not climbed until 1931. This peak was a proving ground for mountaineers with their sights on Everest.
Last day of June dawns clear and bright so early train up to Gornergrat. A splendid view of the Matterhorn’s North face in the morning sunshine under a clear blue sky.
Two hours later, drawing completed as the clouds roll in and hide the peak once more! Clear all around so more drawings – of Castor, Pollux and Monta Rosa.
A good morning’s work, wonderful glaciers and a great walk down keeping an eye on the gathering storm clouds!
Storms, torrential rain – time for a quick exit! Head for the Dolomites and Misurina, its lake surrounded by wonderful mountains with fantastic Tres Cime de Lavaredo dominating the view – Cime Grande another of the great north faces. Facing it at the other end of the lake, the massive bulk of Sorapis, the subject of my first drawing here. Hot, sunny days and my Berghaus Argentium base layers come into their own, keeping me cool in the sunshine and warm as the clouds build in the afternoons.
Cinque Torri calls – so off we go. Croda di Lago looks magnificent, especially glowing softly in the sunset with Antelau behind – just has to be drawn!
Weather holding, so climb the via ferrata to the summit of Averau. Dog comes too! Cloud all around, but not here! Manage a quick drawing of Tofana despite the howling gale!
Last time I drew the Cadini di Misurina it was from under Tres Cime, in March on snow shoes, a gale blowing and two and a half metres of snow! This time, up to the superb viewpoint of Monte Piano to make a summer drawing. Wonderful cloud effects all around as the weather builds but the mountain stays clear.
Next stop Cristallo. Superb visibility except for its highest peak! Wreathed in cloud until the last minute when it cleared long enough for me to complete the drawing before the thunder started rumbling. Make it down to the refugio just as the storm breaks!
But when all else fails, in the Dolomites in July, there’s always plant hunting!
Sadly, it is still not possible to get permits for what I need to do in Tibet. Instead Manaslu beckons this September. With a high point of 5200m at Larkya La, my Berghaus duvet jacket will certainly be in my trusty rucksack! We’ll be in good company – Bill Tilman and Major James Roberts stood there in 1950 identifying a direct route to the summit! After four attempts it was finally climbed in 1956 by a Japanese team.
You can see more of Susan’s sketchbook drawings at www.susandobson.co.uk
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