Everyone should stand on a summit at some point. It doesn’t have to be a big or dangerous mountain, but rather any mountain that makes you feel euphoric, rejuvenated, and happy to live on this beautiful planet. The last few steps onto a summit thrill even the most seasoned adventure travelers to the core.
My own summit record is pretty poor, sometimes because of trying difficult paths to the summit, sometimes from being too easily distracted by the rest of the mountain’s splendors, sometimes because of storms - and a hundred other good excuses. However, in 30 years of mountain adventure, I have managed to snap these 5 photos that truly capture the exhilarating feeling of stepping onto a summit:
First Ascent in the Columbia Mountians: This was the first time any human being ever stood on this summit, a peak in the Selkirk Mountains. The wide-open space around the climber, and her interaction with the environment enhanced by her martial arts stance, make this my single favourite summit photo.
Just One More Step: This climbing area along the Elbe River in Germany is famous for thrilling summits, and a climbing ethic that does not allow cams and nuts - the removable metal anchors used by climbers in the rest of the world. Instead, these climbers are using different sized cord, threaded and wedged creatively into the featured sandstone, to safely reach the summit.
Friends in Space: This summit, also near Germany’s Elbe River, is one of the more precarious summits I’ve ever seen. When four climbers proceeded to crowd onto the tiny perch, I had to snap a picture.
Steep and Flat: Mount Arapiles, at the edge of the Australian outback, is one of the least impressive mountains you’ll ever see. However, when compared to the utter flatness of the horizon surrounding it, Arapiles is as lofty as any peak. With some of the wackiest wildlife and oldest exposed rock on the planet, it is a world-class destination for rock climbers and adventure travelers.
A Long Way Down: If the climber in this photo dropped his helmet, it might not stop for over two vertical kilometres. This is the tiny summit of the massive North Howser Tower in the Bugaboos of British Columbia. From easy to difficult rock climbing and a via ferrata, to heli-hiking and backpacking, the Bugaboos offer some of the easiest access to this kind of terrain anywhere in the world. Adventure travelers compare the climbing and hiking in the Bugaboos to the most spectacular terrain in Patagonia and the Himalaya.
In the end, summit photos don’t have to be great photos to be great memoires. What is your favourite summit memory?