The principal summits of the Glyder range from Tryfan to Elidir Fawr at dawn.
Image Size : 780 x 260 mm
Print Size : 920 x 406 mm
The Glyders – from my earliest days of mountain exploration I have always been fascinated by the magnificent natural architecture of summit, ridge, buttress, cwm and llyn exhibited by this mountain range in central Snowdonia. But whilst I always enjoyed walking and climbing these mountains, I never fully appreciated their sheer beauty and complexity of form until I visited Pen-yr-oleu-wen on the southern extremities of the Carneddau across the deep cleft of the Ogwen Valley.
In a view unquestionably enhanced by the abyss which falls directly below one’s feet, the northern aspect of the Glyder, from Gallt yr Ogof in the south-east to Carnedd y Filiast in the north-west, resembles something akin to an enormous and unobstructed three dimensional map. It was a view I was determined to capture, but one which would require a lot of planning, some careful camera work and a helping of good luck.
Taking only the major summits into consideration – from Tryfan to Y Garn – I still needed to capture an angle of view of around 120 degrees. It was obviously a job for the digital camera and a clever piece of stitching software to deal with a significant change in direction and perspective of the mountains themselves.
Achieving the right light was another major problem. As all the summits and cwms on this side of the Glyder range face north, north east or east, I estimated that the light would be at its best during the summer months. However, I also wanted a shot with enough contrast to emphasise the depth of the corries and one without the ‘bland green’ appearance so typical of summer. It was clear that I was going to have to been on location in time to capture the warmth of the first rays of the rising sun.
Setting off at 3.30 am on a clear but balmy morning in May I made my way by torchlight to shores of the Ffynnon Lloer, and then in the pre-dawn, on and up through Pen-yr-oleu-wen’s craggy east ridge. My actual viewpoint was south of the main summit, at the top of the path from Llyn Ogwen – from where I had an unobstructed view of Llyn Ogwen and around to Mynydd Perfedd.
The summits of the Glyders glowed red as the sun broke through haze on the eastern horizon. Also impressive was Snowdon and the appropriately named Crib Goch, which peeped out over the main ridge just above the Devil’s Kitchen. I took my first images just before 5.30 am, but I needed to be patient and allow the sun to move far enough south to eliminate the shadow which Pen-yr-oleu-wen initially cast into the valley.
It was a sequence of six images taken just before 6 am that finally achieved the effect that I was looking for. Some work in the studio later brought the images together, and although it is a two dimensional print, ‘The Glyders’ does full justice to a three dimensional view.