Vertigo was shot back in June on a bonny day out in a very grey and very clagged in Snowdonia. As is typical it was just a day to be enjoying the hills, as is typical it meant I got a rather atmospheric shot.
Tryfan is a wonderful day out, albeit one which requires a certain amount of mountain savvy. There are two main approaches, both from the A5. One can simply elect to go ‘straight up’ the North Ridge. This is perhaps the finest continuous scramble in the UK. Rated at Grade 1 you can make it as easy or as difficult as you choose.
I’ve climbed it maybe 20 times and never followed the same route. Towards the summit the heather terraces give way to huge rocks and ‘fake summits’ eventually funnelling you into a single route to the top. The alternative and less strenuous way it to take a path along the eastern flank from behind the farm at Gwern Gof Uchaf or another path up the western flank from Ogwen Cottage.
Both paths are well marked and defined. They both meet on the southern side of Tryfan and Bwlch Tryfan, a col separating this iconic mountain from the Glyders to the south. A relatively easy hike up from there (with a little easy scrambling) takes you to the summit.
This shot was taken from the summit towards the southern summit upon which the figure is standing. The Glyders are hiding under cloud behind. Looking over the edge there is a rather sizeable vertical drop and as I sat there and saw the cloud gradually lifting I thought this was a great opportunity to make something epic. The little figure is actually my buddy Freddie from Sweden. We were out that day to introduce him to the British Mountains. He loved it.
There is no particular time of the year that I would favour over another for ascending this icon. In winter it can be very icy which doesn’t really make the scrambling fun, at other times it can be very wet. I would typically look to climb it on a sunny day if photography wasn’t on the agenda (a luxury I enjoy regularly), however the most atmospheric days, such as the day this shot was taken, are as a weather front clears through North Wales.
Typically the humidity hangs around and it takes a long time for the clouds to begin to disappear. You want to be about 3/4’s of the way up the mountain at least when that begins to happen…and it can happen remarkably quickly revealing bright blue sky and very clear air out to the west over the Irish Sea.
Tryfan : Snowdonia
Destinations are supplied for information only and are used at your own risk. Always take proper precautions when out in the Mountains and make sure you are equipped for all weathers. It is wise to let someone know your route before you head out. Do you have a favourite photographic location, why not submit your own adventure.
In terms of what to take, in addition to the typical requirements for a day on the hill (proper footwear, waterproofs, plenty of water, etc), don’t bother with tonnes of lenses and heavy tripods. If scrambling they’ll only unbalance you and probably get bashed against rock. I would always take two lenses, and ultra wide angle and a telephoto, the camera body of choice, a spare battery and memory card and perhaps a polariser. That is about it.
I find mountains to be dark forbidding places, and as such I don’t mind lots of shadows, so I tend to expose for the sky and let the shadows creep into the landscape. If I really need something steady to put my camera on (note lack of tripod), I typically use my rucksack, but that is rare, I normally shoot handheld in these circumstances.
About Greg Whitton
Author of the photobook ‘Mountainscape’, Fujifilm X-Photographer and overall winner of Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2014, Greg is quickly establishing a name for himself within the Landscape Photography community.
Specialising in mountain photography and counting the Lake District, Snowdonia, the Peak District and the Highlands of Scotland as second homes. Greg is used to hiking to get the shot, in all weathers. Greg has a background of extensive hillwalking and leading mixed ability groups over all types of terrain and has recently launched the first of a series of photographic workshops.