The Alps - A Bird's Eye View by Matevž Lenarčič and Janez Bizjak
ISBN 13: 9789616111195
No of Pages: 512
Page Size: 375 x 280
Publisher: PanAlp: www.panalp.net
Published Date: 2009
Illustrations: 200 double spread colour photos and 50 single page photos plus maps & drawings.
'This Slovenian biologist/mountaineer/aviator/visionary wants us to see the Alps as the birds do — not divided into eight countries or anyone's possession but a world of marvellous beauties...... Stephen Goodwin
On the south-western threshold of the Ecrins massif stands the Devoluy range, which is divided in a north-south direction by the valley with the Festre saddle, where there are some well-known ski centres on the northern slops of Pic de Bure. From The Alps - A Bird's Eye View by Matevž Lenarcic and Janez Bizjak .
For the last six years the Slovenian alpinist, photographer, and biologist Matevž Lenarčič flew solo in his Earth-friendly Pipistrel Sinus 912 Aircraft around the Alps taking aerial photographs.
The result is the most glorious celebration and documentation of the Alps in his 512-page large format and heavy book,The Alps - A Bird's Eye View, (it is 28cm wide, 37.5cm and weighs 4.95 kilos).
It quite rightly won the Best Book — Mountain Image at the 2009 Banff Mountain Book Festival, but hasn't had much exposure in the UK.
This is what Stephen Goodwin, Editor of the Alpine Journal and one of the judges at 2009 Banff Mountain Book Festival, said about The Alps - A Bird's Eye View.
“What a mind-blowing project! The price on this book — £55 — makes no sense in publishing terms, but then commerce isn't Matevž Lenarčič's purpose, is it?
Instead this Slovenian biologist/mountaineer/aviator/visionary wants us to see the Alps as the birds do — not divided into eight countries or anyone's possession but a world of marvellous beauties; and through these fantastic aerial images to provoke action to preserve the Alps for its communities, its wildlife and for the rest of us who love those mountains and fear the loss of any more ground to ski resorts, motorways, power plants and the like.
I was all set to find a contradiction in Lenarčič's desire to save the Alps and the seemingly carbon-profligate act of flying over them for hours on end. But then I realized how green his method had been; an ultra-light motorglider, so that all the flying amounted to about the same CO2 emissions as a businessman's car in a year.
To have captured all these images while piloting such a sensitive little craft is awesome. But then so is everything about this project. Lenarčič and his team presumably think it is necessary for the gesture to be on a grand scale in order to open people's eyes beyond their selfish designs on the alpine space.
One stunning mountainscape follows another, from the Barre des Ecrin in the west to Triglav in the east; jewelled lakes, forests and glacier surfaces viewed from above have a startling abstract quality, while the mark of man is there in the harmony of red-tiled rooftops on Italian hillsides to the brutal canalisation of rivers such as the Durance.
Lenarčič rightly says that the preservation of the Alps begins and ends with acknowledging and respecting them. And that is the cumulative force of these images — to engender respect for a mountain range that, in our thrall with the Himalaya or Alaska, we might have thought a little passé. Together, Lenarčič's photographs stack up to make a powerful statement about the Alps and what we stand to lose if we just shrug and permit “business as usual.” It's much more than high quality mountain images on gigantic Art book scale, it's a mountain manifesto, a call to arms.”
The 250 colour images (of which 200 are double page spreads) and all are captioned with name, altitude and country; location and altitude when photographing. All the well known peaks and ranges are included and are sub-divided into Southern, Western, Central, and Eastern Alp. These photographs will Wow you but there is much more, there are many maps and extensive essays on the natural history of the Alps written by expert authors: water, forests, flora, fauna; on how mankind has shaped the Alps, on conservation, tourism and thoughts on the future of the area.
The book has been compiled under the patronage of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) and includes forewords by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, Sir Chris Bonington and Marco Onida, Secretary-General of the Alpine Convention. The book was designed by Ivana Kadivec and co-authored by Janez Bizjak
The pleasure this book will give is immense, the inspiration and motivation it will provide for great adventures is without doubt. It will change lives and hopefully have a positive influence of Europe's wild place.
This is a complete work, a work of genius and is essential for anyone with an interest in mountains. Congratulations to Matevž Lenarčič, Janez Bizjak and everyone involved in this complex project. At £55 it's a bargain.
VIDEO: The Alps A Bird's Eye View: an interview with Matevž Lenarčič by Schweizer Fernsehe
Although in German by the Swiss website of Schweizer Fernsehens this 7 minute video interviews Matevž Lenarčič (he speaks in English), shows him flying and photographing in his Pipistrel Sinus 912 and leafing through this important book
ANOTHER VIDEO: Slovene national TV made a film about Matevž Lenarčič's aerial photography. It is in the Slovene language and is quite beautiful, but at 25 minutes long better if you watch if you have the book to gain more understanding of the project. http://tvslo.si
The Alps - A Bird's Eye View GALLERY
click on the images to enlarge
Matevž has shared with UKClimbing.com a selection of images from The Alps A Bird's Eye View, they are below with the extended captions from the book. Below these is some biographical information about Matevž Lenarčič.
Apart from the Mediterranean, the Alps are Europe's biggest ecosystem.
Marmolada's south face is a long, rugged, 800-metre-high barrier with very demanding climbing routes. This view from the south-west, above the ski centre of San Martinno di Castrozza and the surrounding ski slopes with lifts on the Rolle pass, also reveals the mighty face of Cimon della Pala.
The highest mountain and the symbol of Austria lies in the Hohe Tauern and the national park of the same name. The summit was first reached by local climbers from Heiligenblut in 1800. The Pasterze Glacier below the north-east faces is typical of rapidly melting ice and glacial retreat caused by climate change.
The Alps are a strategic European treasury of drinking water.
This marvelous mountain in the Julian Alps above the Soca/Isonzo valley symbolises the most tragic part of the history of the Alps. During the years 1915 - 1917 a succession of battles were waged on these high ridges between the Austro-Hungarian and Italian armies, bringing death to several hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
Over the past 150 years, we have lost about half of the Alpine ice cover.
Zugspitze is Germany's highest peak, situated on the German-Austrian border in the region of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, from where the mountain railway Zugspitzbahn leads to the summit. There are also two gondolas reaching the top of the mountain; one from the German lake Eibsee and the other is the Austrian Tiroler Zugspitzbahn.
The important requirement for the future of the Alps is development in harmony with nature, emphasising the principle that "less is more".
Passeierspitze, the “king of the Lechtal Alps”, is also the highest peak in the Northern Limestone Alps. Only 7 km east of the summit, the town of Landeck lies in the Inn valley. Passeierspitze was first climbed by the rope-team Specht-Siess in 1869.
The Maritime Alps Nature Park is the largest park in Piedmont. Some of its summits exceed 3000 m, the highest being Dell' Argentera, and the most southerly Alpine glaciers are situated here. The park, which is connected with the Mercantour National Park in France, has over 80 glacial lakes and rich flora and fauna.
About Matevž LENARČIČ
Education: graduate biologist
Profession: professional photographer, pilot
Graduate biologist: 1986–1990
Nature conservation institute
Professional photographer: www.lenarcic.net
Author of seven photo monographs:
Around the Only World, 2006
Upper Savinja Valley, 1991
Waters in Slovenia, 1995
Savinja River, 1997
Nature Park Logar Valley, 1996
Šmarna Gora, 1998
The Mediterranean, 1998
44 wall calendars
Author of two books:
Around the Only World, 2006
Sense and Realisation – Patagonia, 1988
Aviation Expeditions: www.wingsforever.com
Around The World 2004
Africa – Valley of Life 2005
Greenland, Annapurna I, Annapurna IV, Karakorum Himalaya, Patagonia: Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Africa and others
15 years experience flying, from the mountains of Slovenia to the Himalayas
Pilot: PPL – IFR, 2000+ hours
For aerial photography I generally fly my light high-wing motorglider Sinus 912. The aircraft is modified for aerial work. Its speed range, between 60 and 240 km/h, is very suitable for such work. The Sinus can climb 600 m/s up to 6000 m without a turbo charger. The aircraft is almost inaudible, so it doesn't disturb fragile ecosytems.
In aerial work things are going fast. If you miss the shot, there is no second chance. It is impossible to repeat something you once fail. This is why I use only high-tech Nikon digital cameras and lenses.
Stephen Goodwin last wrote Obituary: Charles S. Houston by Stephen Goodwin at UKClimbing.com.
Mick Ryan's last review of a photography book was Lake District - Mountain Landscape by Alastair Lee.