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Hiking to the alpine Lakes in Chamonix

By Giulia Woergartner

Over the years I’ve seen some incredible photographs from all around the world, but one destination that has been coming up over and over again was Chamonix in the French Alps. If I think about it, they are my neighbours and yet I haven’t made it out to that part of the Alps. That was going to change on this trip. 

My name is Giulia Woergartner, I am an outdoor and travel photographer from northern Italy. I am based in a little town in the heart of the Dolomites. Growing up in such a beautiful part of the world, I shaped a very close relationship to nature and the mountains at a very young age. I picked up a camera for the first time when I was 14 and I fell immediately in love with the craft. 

I think photography has really opened my eyes and helped me to appreciate my home more and more. After photographing the Italian Alps, I had this curiosity to see the world, put myself in different environments and meet people from all around the world. Over the course of the last couple of years I was very lucky to visit and photograph some of the most amazing corners of our planet. From the highlands of Iceland to the giant red dunes in Namibia, the golden light in South Africa or the snow capped Fjords in Lofoten. This summer I made the conscious decision to explore places that are close to home. That’s the reason why of my trip to the French Alps. 

I packed up my stuff with all my camping gear, clothes and my photography equipment. I turned on the engine of my lovely Ford Galaxy and hit road to Chamonix-Mont Blanc. 6 hours and 20 min appeared on the screen. It didn’t seem that far as I was eager to find out about this area in the Alps. After many podcasts and loud music I found myself at the foot of Mont Blanc, in the valley of Chamonix. 

I arrived pretty late but it was still an hour before sunset. I decided to head into the town of Chamonix and take a stroll around. I definitely could tell that the people who visit this area really are into the outdoors. Around every corner there was some kind of outdoor shop or alpine tour guide. Name any outdoor brand, they probably have a shop there. Definitely a little piece of heaven for an outdoor enthusiast like me. 

The next morning I decided to head up into the mountains. I met up with my friends Tom & Georgina from the UK. They told me that Morgan, a local photographer, would join us as well. We started our hike to the Alpine Lake, Lac des Chésery, Funny enough, this was my first time camping this year. I definitely chose the right place for it. 

On our way up into the mountains we were blessed with some incredible views, Morgan, our local friend, pointed out some of the peaks and gave us an overview of this mountain range we were looking at. It was pretty hard to take my eyes off of these remarkable peaks, there was so much to discover and so many details to get lost into. 

After a two hour hike we made it to the Lac Blanc. It was still filled with snow patches but we decided to take a short rest. I took my camera out of my full packed backpack and started snapping away. We then decided to head down to the Lac de Chésery. We weren’t the only ones visiting that day, a few other mountain lovers were gathering around the lake but we found a little spot tucked away overlooking the lake. 

After setting up our camp and cooking dinner, we sat down and waited for the sun to set. We still had to wait until golden hour, which is my favourite time to take pictures. After a while I saw an ibex in the distance. It didn’t seem to be shy at all, but I didn’t want to disturb it. I took my 70-200 mm tele lens and took a couple of portraits. 

From the Lac de Chésery you have a direct view onto the The Mer de Glace. It is the largest glacier in France, 7 km long and 200 m deep. Unfortunately the ice of the glacier is rapidly vanishing. The reason? The unmistakable fingerprints of climate change. After reminiscing and dreaming about a brighter future the sun was finally setting and the real show started. 

“After a two hour hike we made it to the Lac Blanc. It was still filled with snow patches but we decided to take a short rest. I took my camera out of my full packed backpack and started snapping away.”

The wind was picking un and unfortunately we didn’t get a reflection on the lake. However, there were plenty of photo opportunities and I was running around with my friends like little kids on a playground trying to capture this beautiful atmosphere with our cameras. A few clouds sneaked into the frame but they were a lovely subject and reflected the pastel colours of the sunset. 

We stayed up late sitting under a starry sky and talked about our travel stories and encounters with the world. I was surprised that it was still pretty warm that night and we could just sit outside and enjoy nature.

The next morning the alarm goes off at 5am. It was time to get up for sunrise. I headed down to lake hoping that the mountain would reflect into the water. The wind was still blowing and I couldn’t see a clear reflection. Nevertheless, it was still breathtaking. These mountains have shown me so much diversity and sublime moments that I was standing there with a big smile on my face. 

The sun came up and we decided to sit down and take in the moment. Morgan brought a big bag of french chocolate cookies and they definitely tasted amazing with a panorama like that. We spend another two hours sitting and reminiscing about these views. 

When I am in good company and have views like that right in front of me, there is no place I’d rather be. I firmly believe that spending time in the outdoors is more than just the photos and memories that come with it. Nature is a place of feeling, a place with connection and if you rush through it, you’re kind of missing the point. Take your time and enjoy those little moments when you are out there in the mountains. Chamonix, I’ll be back for sure. 

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