Travel Stories

Hiking The Alpstein by Julien Balmer

Sticking out of the eastern region of the Appenzellerland, the multifaceted Alpstein massif is a most photogenic range of folded limestone mountains. Starting point of our 3-day hike was Hoher Kasten. We followed the ridge past Saxer Lücke all the way to Berggasthaus Rotsteinpass on day one. It's a gorgeous but also long day, and there is no water anywhere along the way, so come prepared! The next morning we hiked to the peak of Mount Säntis and then slowly descended to Berggasthaus Schäfler, a historic and picturesque mountain inn. Again, stunning views all day long, at times clear sky and impeccable visibility, at other times atmospheric fog and clouds moving across our fields of vision. On the 3rd day we continued downhill and made our way all the way down to Seealpsee for a cooling and well-deserved skinny-dip.

In short: great trails, stunning views, cozy mountain inns - and if you go during the week not too many humans either.

Shot on 35mm film and iPhone. 
 

   View on the entire Alpstein massif from Hoher Kasten.   

 View on the entire Alpstein massif from Hoher Kasten.
 

  Lisengrat. View towards Rotsteinpass and Altmann.   

Lisengrat. View towards Rotsteinpass and Altmann.
 

  Alpstein Massif as seen from Hoher Kasten.   

Alpstein Massif as seen from Hoher Kasten.
 

  Freiheittürm and Widderalpstöck with Seealpsee in background.   

Freiheittürm and Widderalpstöck with Seealpsee in background.
 

  Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg   

Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg
 

 View towards Girespitz and Moor from Nädliger near Mount Altmann, on the way to Rotsteinpass.  

View towards Girespitz and Moor from Nädliger near Mount Altmann, on the way to Rotsteinpass.
 

  Chreialpfirst, descent towards Zwinglipass   

Chreialpfirst, descent towards Zwinglipass
 

  Chreialpfirst   

Chreialpfirst
 

  Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg   

Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg
 

  Altenalpsattel   

Altenalpsattel
 

  Hüenerberg   

Hüenerberg
 

  Chreialpfirst   

Chreialpfirst
 

  Lisengrat and   Mount Säntis in background. View from Nädliger near Mount Altmann.   

Lisengrat and Mount Säntis in background. View from Nädliger near Mount Altmann.
 

  Berggasthaus Rotsteinpass (2124 MASL)   

Berggasthaus Rotsteinpass (2124 MASL)
 

  Lisengrat. View towards Nadlenspitz and Hundstein.   

Lisengrat. View towards Nadlenspitz and Hundstein.
 

  Hüenerberg   

Hüenerberg
 

  Berggasthaus Schäfler (1924 MASL)   

Berggasthaus Schäfler (1924 MASL)
 


Altenalpsattel

 


Nädliger near Mount Altmann, on the way to Rotsteinpass. Mount Säntis is covered in thick clouds.
Music: Between Worlds by Roger Subirana

Driving Iceland by Julien Balmer


Iceland – remote Nordic island of majestic beauty, dramatic volcanic landscapes, and vast open skies. Iceland – home of resilient people, home of hidden people. Iceland – Shangri-La for nature lovers, landscape photographers, and most definitely the contemporary Instagrammer. 

What follows is a visual account of my short 5-day photographic road trip through Iceland in early September 2017. I was short on time, had an ambitious itinerary, and therefore ended up driving some 1'800 km, from the coastal Westfjords all the way to eastern Iceland and back. I love driving, it’s meditative and such a good way for me to develop a feeling for a place I haven’t been to before. Exploring, experiencing, and shooting like this is somehow aligned with the essence of who I am as a photographer, a traveller, and a free spirit. 

I loved capturing the different moods, from gloomy, dark and stormy weather in the West to a very sunny morning near Vatnajökull National Park in the Northeast. A symphony of unusual shapes and beautiful hues. Touched by the vastness, the silence, and the sublime beauty I felt elated and privileged to be there. 

Shot on 35mm film, a DSLR, and iPhone. 
 

   Geothermal activity in the area around   Mývatn, a volcanic lake in northern Iceland.    

 Geothermal activity in the area around Mývatn, a volcanic lake in northern Iceland. 
 

   Road through volcanic landscape near lake   Mývatn.   

 Road through volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.
 

   Volcanic landscape near lake   Mývatn.   

 Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.
 

 Geothermal activity in the area around lake Mývatn.  

Geothermal activity in the area around lake Mývatn.
 

 Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.  

Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.
 

 Somewhere along route 60 in the Westfjords.  

Somewhere along route 60 in the Westfjords.
 

 Somewhere further along route 60 in the Westfjords.

Somewhere further along route 60 in the Westfjords.

 Moody Coast, route 427 not far from Grindavik.  

Moody Coast, route 427 not far from Grindavik.
 

 Lava formation in Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.  

Lava formation in Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.
 

 Route 427 near Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.  

Route 427 near Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.
 

 Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).  

Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).
 

 Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).  

Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).
 

 Volcanic hills a little north of Vatnajökull National Park.  

Volcanic hills a little north of Vatnajökull National Park.
 

 Otherworldly volcanic landscape just north of Vatnajökull National Park.

Otherworldly volcanic landscape just north of Vatnajökull National Park.