Feasting For Ski Warriors and Armchair Adventurers
By Ian Harford
Fed up with piste bashing? Hungry for some adrenalin spikes as you belay down the rope over the lip of an icy slope? Are you eager to get on to that 1200 metre vertical drop down Europe's longest continuous ski run? Or just curious why in Kirgistan you have to crouch for an hour in a windowless six wheel drive army personnel carrier just to get to the ski resort?
John Haddon's talk, "Searching for the perfect powder", at the November Belfry meeting was just the bill for anyone restless to get on the slopes - as well as being a good evening's entertainment for armchair adventurers.
John's great strength lies in his photographs, showing his journeys in search of the deep stuff in the Alps, in America and in Asia. A Russian woman selling plastic bags on the street, the underbelly of a helicopter hovering five feet above him in a river bed, the goat waiting its turn to climb into the materialbahn hill-lift, the fuggy and welcoming interior of the Canadian sno-cat, the goggled and disembodied face of the SCGB chief executive, as she descended through the powder - all capture the sheer variety of the experience of anyone skiing away from the piste.
But most telling were the action photos - skiers on the turn, below the seracs, down the couloirs, through the powder, crossing the glacier - or just on their backs entangled hopelessly in the branches of a tree! The best was a haunting shot of two skiers at the end of a long powder descent, their shadowed tracks and movement, near black and white, shimmering with quiet energy in the late afternoon sunlight.
Photos like these are not easy to take - as we all know from our own snaps - requiring both skiing and photographic skills of a high order, so it was not surprising to hear that John had been invited to join next February an international Inspire Antarctic expedition.
Concerned with global warming, the Group of over 65 people will build an education base with renewable energy to provide live links via the web for teachers and the general public about what is happening in the Antarctic. John has to raise £16,000 in sponsorship and would welcome contributions. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | 32 Upper Old Park Lane, Farnham GU9 0AR | 01252 713285). I'm already looking forward to see his photos!