Friday Foto: A Portfolio of Finalists

As I mentioned in my last post, I was last weekend named as a finalist for travel photographer of the year by the Australian Society of Travel Writers (the prize was won by Rod Eime). The award is judged on a portfolio of three published images across a 12-month period. It seemed appropriate to run the three images together this week as my Friday Foto.

Walker among ice formations on Moreno Glacier

In the world of ice, Patagonia’s Moreno Glacier is a supermodel. Here, a guide on the popular glacier walks strides across ice ridges below a row of ice fins, just beneath the point at which the glacier first bends and crumbles into a series of crevasses and seracs.

Prayer flags at Marhi, on the climb to Rohtang La

The travellers’ village of Marhi is an unholy mess with a holy heart. Cobbled together 50km from Manali as a rest stop for drivers on the highway to Leh, it’s a chance for a tea break, chips or coffee from a roadside stall, or something stiffer from the well-stocked liquor stall. As an early indication that this highway leads into the Buddhist lands of Ladakh, there’s also a stupa strung with prayer flags like guy ropes. This photo was taken on a cycling journey I made across the Himalayas, pedalling to Leh across five HImalayan passes between 4000m and 5300m. Our first night’s stop was here in Marhi, where monsoon rain lashed us through the night. Which leads to image three…

Rohtang mud

Immediately above Marhi is Rohtang La, the first of the passes separating Manali from Leh. The name ‘Rohtang’ is said to translate as ‘Piles of Corpses’, in reference to the number of travellers who’ve died here. As you cycle towards the top it’s tempting to think they might all have drowned in the mud. Monsoon rains pour mud across the highway, and we spent almost as much time pushing the bikes as we did riding, but still we travelled faster than any other vehicles on the road. Through the night the headlights of bogged vehicles formed a constellation above camp, and when we set out in the morning the traffic jam was 10km long. It was the world’s largest game of stuck in the mud.

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