This metaphor was probably used the first time by the American writer Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). Obviously, nobody ever skins a cat so this proverb only denotes that there are many ways to accomplish the same thing. Dad and his friend Vincent, well known photographer, did just that. Last Wednesday they travelled across Switzerland to Appenzell, a small canton in which all Swiss rental cars are registered (for tax purposes of course) with the objective to photograph a specific mountain ridge. After four hours of driving they arrived at their close to final destination, parked their car and took the Ebenalp cable car the six minutes up to the start of what would be an almost two hour uphill hike. I'll let Dad take over the story telling since I had decided to stay home and study geometry with my friend Antoine, one of the two A-s.
Vincent had told me there would be no more than 200 m from the upper lift station to our hotel, Berghaus Schäfler so I had not packed lightly, bringing my best Fuji GFX camera, three lenses, filters, a travel tripod, walking sticks and luggage for 48 hours of unknown alpine adventures. I looked uphill after one hour of hiking and took off my jacket and down-vest that were already two things too many. The Berghaus seemed to be miles away.
It was mid afternoon when we finally arrived. The hotel that is situated on top of a vertical 800 m high rock wall towards the west and a slightly less steep 800 m vertical drop towards the east with a small beautiful lake at the bottom, was more than inviting, allowing us to replace our fluid losses before considering our next project, how to find the best place from where to shoot what we had planned. The afternoon light was just right so we started our next hike, this time passing the warning signs you can read in the title photo. Yes you need to be a well trained mountaineer, wearing good hiking boots... Yes, the path was narrow, just barely allowing you to put your two feet side by side. Luckily, there is a strong cable to hold on to along the inside cliff wall, so we carefully descended the couple of hundred meters to a spot where we had exactly the view we wanted. So below you can check out a few photos I took in the late afternoon, during the golden hour just before sunset and the next morning at sunrise. In all we had to walk and creep back and forth three times in a little more than 12 hours to get these photographs. I began to understand why I would never become a sufficiently good alpine landscape photographer. You do need strong nerves to stand looking down 800 meters one meter away on each side on a narrow path without thinking you might fall. So tell us which of the following photos you prefer, first from the late afternoon with the sun still rather high.
And thereafter just before sunset when light clouds were drifting in from the east, casting mystic shadows that never remained in the same place.
And finally, my last shot, one minute after the sun rose the next morning. Look how much flatter this light was and how uninteresting a photograph with a blue sky without clouds really is despite the early hour.
Before sitting down for breakfast I took a last photograph from our terrace, this time towards the east over the series of hills along the Swiss-Austrian border. Light fog was filling the valleys. We loaded our bodies with our rucksacks and walked downhill to the cable car and future adventures. Stay tuned!!
When I saw these photographs I was glad Dad was back at midday today after having "skinned his cat" without loosing his foot-grip somewhere in the middle of nowhere.