Thursday, 21 January 2010


Pooley Bridge pier

It's probably a bit late to talk about the incredible snow we've had here in the UK, but it really was an exceptional winter. And one that really took the rug out from underneath our feet in many ways. We can't forget the tragedies it brought, with about one death a week on the hills amongst many other lives lost and changed forever. But for the rest of us, I think it made us think differently, at least for a while.

Stu on Blencathra

Those days were like a dream now. The Eden Valley was exceptionally beautiful at -15 degrees C, draped in a new kind of cold as silent as the grave. Completely windless, too.

For some, maybe many, it was a hindrance. Me too, at first. For a day or two I sat around, wondering where to go running. On the third day, I saw this new landscape as an opportunity. Magically, it turned out the running was perfect on a bed of squeaky pack-snow. These runs turned out to be some of the most amazing runs of my life.

The magical Eden Valley

In some ways, I liked the way the snow mixed things up. Made people think about things in a different way, and slowed us down. Showed a different side to folk.


It's conditions like these that make me think of a quietly brilliant film called Sinners, by Bill Heath. In amongst the noise and haste of a million adrenaline-fueled films about cutting edge skiing, Bill's film takes a different path. The film came about by talking to the folk he met whilst backcountry ski-ing in Western Canada, and chancing upon mountaineering physicist, A.J. Snow, still skiing at the age of 100.

Light and spindrift on Great Dodd

The film is beautiful and poignant. In amongst words of incredible wisdom and clarity from A.J., Bill cuts through the loud shouts of the fastest skiers and the ones with the most tricks. He shows you how beautiful it is. It's a work of art, and at the same time, whispers of a wisdom and truth that goes just a little bit beyond our normal thinking. And at its heart is a belief that being among mountains is more than what the powder junkie might see. Bill's film won the award for best mountain sports film at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2003.


Ian Charters said...

Awesome pictures, Rhiannon. Pooley Bridge pier will never seem as magical again. These are images to treasure - thank you for sharing.

Rhiannon said...

Thanks, Ian. It was an amazing time for running and taking photos, wasn’t it? Hope you’re doing well.