Bernese Haute Route

Photography in High Altitude Mountain

This photo workshop takes place in the grandiose setting of the Bernese Oberlan massif. You will evolve in a glacier environment, dominated by numerous 4000m peaks. You will walk across the famous Aletsch glacier, the largest glacier in the Alps, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will be almost constantly above 3000m of altitude and you will climb two easy peaks culminating at 3600m, the Wyssnollen and the Oberaarhorn. Between glaciers, crevasses and snow-covered mountains, no need to say that there is no shortage of subjects to photograph.

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During five days, you are completely immersed in an alpine environment as wild as it is majestic. The itinerary has been carefully chosen so that you will have time during the day to stop and photograph while receiving advises from Samuel on a wide variety of technical and artistic subjects. The following topics will be covered:
  • First of all, how to use your most valuable tool, your eye;
  • General thoughts about the artistic approach to photography;
  • Preparation (study of the terrain, the weather, organization of the equipment, etc.);
  • The search for strong and compeling compositions and a some useful guiding rules;
  • Learning to appreciate the quality of different lights;
  • How to correctly expose an image (aperture, shutter speed, histogram reading, etc.);
  • Learn to accuratly sharpness;
  • The use of filters (ND, Polarisers, Graduated NDs);
  • Panorama stitching techniques;
  • General camera usage and set up (white balance, histogram, ISO, etc.);
  • Night landscape photography;
All these topics are covered in more or less detail depending on the overall level of the participants but also on your personal interests and expections. Thanks to limiting his workshops to small groups, Samuel is therefore able adapt to your requests at the individual level.

The workshop in details:

Day 1: Jungrfaujoch (3454m) - Konkordia hut (2850m)

Up: 150m
Down: 750m
Walking time: around 5hr

Lauterbrunnen. This is where we are meeting. At the foot of the Eiger and its famous north face. We take the little train which, in barely an hour, takes us to 3572m above sea level, to the Jaungfraujoch. A fantastic spectacle awaits us with the mythical 4000m peaks of the Oberland: Jungfrau (4158m), Mönch (4099m), Aletschorn (4193m), and the infinite glaciers that flow down peacefully. We put on our crampons, rope up and set foot on the mythical Aletsch glacier (alpine record length!) without delay, which we descend quietly under the sparkling eye of the surrounding mountains. The walk is interspersed with several stops to enjoy the show, and of course, to photograph it. This long glacial descent is punctuated by the ascent of 400 step stair anchored in the cliff (150m vertical), which leads us to the Konkordia hut (2850m) and its panoramic terrace. We take advantage of all the evening, until the twilight hours, to photograph the grandiose spectacle which is offered to us righ from the hut.

Day 2: Konkordia hut (2850m) - Finsterrahorn hut (3048m)

Up: 700m
Down: 530m
Walking time: around 6hr

We wake up at dawn to photograph the early light of sunrise from around the hut. After the warm-up offered by the descent of the stairs climbed the day before, we set foot again on the Grüneggfirn glacier which we climb up to the Grünhornlücke pass. We are then greated with a new impressive view over the Fieschergletscher valley. The imposing Finsteraarhorn (4274m) dominates the area. A break is called for, and we take the time to fill up our memory cards! A gradual descent then leads us to the other side of the glaciar valley, at the foot of the Finsteraarhorn, where we reach the magnificent and very comfortable Finsteraarhorn hut. Once again we take advantage of this privileged promontory to photography until dusk.

Day 3: Climb of the Wyssnollen (3590m)

Up: 820m
Down: 820m
Walking time: around 7hr

We have an early rise to have enough time to reach a great location for sunrise. After a good breakfast, we put the crampons back on and start the ascent of the Wyssnollen which we reach at around sunrise. From this summit, the glacier massif of the Oberland, still dominated by the Finsteraarhorn, offers our camera sensors an infinite number of extraordinary images to be captured. We return by the same path to the Finsteraarhorn hut where we spend the night again.

Day 4: Finsteraarhorn hut (3048m) - Oberaarjoch hut (3256)

Up: 560m
Down: 350m
Walking time: around 5hr

From the Finsteraarhorn hut, we walk successively accross the Fiescher, Galmi and Studer glaciers, always plunged in the middle of the majestic immensities. We take advantage of the impressive crevasses of the Galmi glacier to take some pictures once again. We continue our ascent to reach the Oberaar pass (Oberrarjoch). We then have to cross a short passage on ladders to reach the small and picturesque Oberaarjoch hut hanging down the face of the mountain. Once again we onjoy the views from the hut until sunset time and capture some images, before getting a good night's sleep.

Day 5: Climbing of the Oberaarhorn (3630m) - Grimsel pass

Up: 400m
Down: 1400m
Walking time: around 7hr

After an early rise and good breakfast we start the short ascent (about 1h30mn) of the Oberaarhorn (3630m). We reach its summit in time to photograph the most beautiful sunrise lights that paint the majestic landscape at our feet. After enjoying this new spectacle, we walk back down to the hut and continue our way down on the Oberaar glacier before returning to the greenery by walking alond lake Oberaarsee which will punctuate this unforgettable alpine adventure. A minibus will take us back to the Grimsel Pass from where we can return to Lauterbrunnen (by minibus and train).

Required Physical Conditions

IMPORTANT - please read carefully

You must be in excellent physical condition.
During 5 days, you will totalise 2630m of positive elevation gain and 3850m of negative elevation gain. You will be constantly above 2900m with the highest point being the summit of the Oberaarhorn at 3630m. Once engaged in this long alpine crossing, there is no escape. In case of problems or physical impairment, only helicopter evacuation is possible. In order to be physically ready, it is strongly recommended that you practice a regular physical activity (jogging, cycling, etc.) during the 3 months preceding this workshop. If you wish to assess your physical condition, you should be able to do a day walk including at least 1000 meters of positive ascent without difficulty.
Please do not overestimate nor underestimate yourself of course.

Technical Knowledge in Mountaineering

This 5-day high mountain trip is not difficult from a purely technical point of view. It is a long hike on glaciers, with the ascent of two 3600m peaks (rated as "Easy" (or F = Facile in french) according to the Swiss Alpine Club ratings). You will walking most of the time roped up, crampons on your feet and at times, ice axe in hand.
Our mountain guide, Jérôme, will be present to ensure your safety. For this reason, and given the low level of difficulty of the race, no technical mountaineering knowledge is required.
Jérôme is a fantastic guide. When he is not on the other side of the world carrying out his ambitious personal mountaineering projects, he spends his time guiding his clients in the mountains, winter and summer. He is a very friendly and humorous mountaineer, whose main goal in the mountains is to "return home safely", unlike many mountaineers for whom the summit is the only goal at any price. So even if there is no such thing as zero risk in the mountains, you can be confident that Jérôme will guide you through this world of rock and ice in the best possible conditions, so that you can concentrate on your photography and have a maximum of fun.

Necessary equipment

Photography equipment:

In order to limit the weight of your backpack, please limit your photo equipment to the minimum. The important thing in the high mountains is versatility. We therefore recommend the following equipment:
  • A reflex camera, or other camera (film or digital) which allows manual operation.
  • A lens with standard focal range, ideally between 24mm and 150mm. A good quality zoom lens covering these focal lengths is ideal.
  • A sturdy tripod, but relatively small and light.
  • A shutter release cable (or IR remote control) (for long exposures or night shots),
  • A sufficient number of memory cards.
  • At least 3 or 4 fully charged spare batteries as it is not guaranteed to be able to recharge in the huts).
  • And most importantly, your eye!
For information, Samuel limits himself to a full-frame SLR camera body, a 24-120mm zoom lens, a few ND grad filters, a polarizing filter, a small carbon fiber tripod, several memory cards, 4 fully recharged batteries, and then a good dose of passion and love for the mountains! The tripod is not mandatory but highly recommended for evening and morning photo sessions.

Montain equipment:
  • Backpack (around 45 liters).
  • Mountain or walking boots adapted for wearing crampons.
  • Crampons already adjusted for your shoes.
  • One ice axe.
  • One harness with one screw-on carabiner.
  • Warm and waterproof clothing suitable for high mountains:
    • Walking trousers.
    • Waterproof over trousers.
    • Enventually a thermal base layer for the legs (useful if it's cold in the evening or in the morning during the photo sessions).
    • One shirt + an extra one as a dry spare for the hut.
    • One fleece jacket or softshell.
    • One Goretex jacket.
    • One down jacket.
    • One pair of socks + an extra one as a dry spare for the hut.
    • One pair of warm gloves + 1 thinner spare pair.
    • One hat for the cold.
    • One hat for the sun.
  • Thermos or flask (1.5 to 2 liter minimum).
  • Sun cream.
  • Sunglasses (category 4 for glacier).
  • Headlamp.
  • Sleeping bag liner. They love cleanliness.
  • Trekking poles.
  • Eventually gaiters.
General equipment:
  • Any specific personal medication.
  • Picnic for the first day lunch. On the following days you can buy it from each hut.
  • And lots of good humour!
In case of bad weather:

In order to avoid any disappointment which would result from cancellation due to bad weather, we are pleased to offer you instead an equally majestic alpine crossing, in the heart of the Ecrins Massif, in the French Alps. This place is close enough to allow you to reach it easily, and at the same time far enough from the Bernese Alps to offer us sufficiently different weather conditions. The details of this crossing are yet to be confirmed, but this option is meticulously planned so that the physical condition and technical knowledge required does not exceed that of the Bernese Haute Route, while offering as much fun and exceptional photographic opportunities.
5 full days
Nnumber of participants
6 maximum
4 minimum
This workshop is for beginners and experienced photographers alike. The small number of participants allows Samuel to personally answer all questions and needs, whatever your level.
This workshop is conducted in French. However, for people who do not speak French perfectly Samuel can translate, as needed, into English or Spanish.
The price includes:
  • Photography teaching.
  • High mountain guiding by the certified Swiss mountain guide Jérôme Gottofrey.
  • Four nights in a mountain hut in half-board.
  • The taxi back from the Oberaarsee to the Meinringen train station.
  • Real-time reviews and comments of the photos you take.
  • A pencil and a little notebook for taking notes.
  • Lots of fun and great scenery.
The price excludes:
  • Photographic equipment. Each participant must have his/her own photographic equipment. No loans or rentals are available.
  • Any other technical equipment necessary to participate in the workshop, such as harness, crampons, ice axe, walking sticks, etc. (see complete list of necessary equipment below).
  • The single train ticket from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch (approx. CHF 91.00 or CHF 45.50 for half-fare card holders).
  • Lunch and drinks. It is possible, and recommended, to buy a lunch bag every day in the hut.
  • Any type of insurance (mountain rescue, repatriation, cancellation, etc.).
A 50% down payment is asked at the reservation time in order to garanty your place in the workshop. The remaining 50% is payable one week before the workshop.

General Condition of Sales (payment terms, cancelation, insurances, etc.).