“A long circuit suspended between earth and sky”
“The reaching of a goal – be it physical or visual –
is where the allure of the climb truly lies.
And the bigger the effort and concentration required to make the ascent are,
the bigger is the satisfaction.
A continual progress and regression,
reaching the peak only to have to leave it, and to then climb upwards once again.
An exercise which for the competitors of the Tor des Géants becomes a mantra”.
The words of Paola Pignatelli accompany the photographic report of Stefano Torrione, tracing the exciting journey across the Giants of the Aosta Valley, in the book “Tor des Géants”.
It is a circular story, which follows the race step by step, between fatigue and determination, etched on the faces of the athletes. The light and shadow of a unique competition.
Reading it is like being there, on the Col Loson, at 3,296 meters altitude, the highest point on the Tor des Géants trail. Or standing before that window onto infinity at the Col Malatrà, with Marco Gazzola beside you.
Casting your gaze beyond. Beyond his raised arms, beyond the limits.
Excitement and tears. Fatigue and injury.
And then that spectacular night.
“I have never been alone, at night, on the Tor des Géants. Because around me I saw the eyes of chamois glimmer”. This is how Jules Henri Gabioud, the young Swiss who won the 2011 edition of the competition, answered when asked what effect running through the mountains in darkness has upon him. The dark, up there, is different. When the sun dips behind the last peak, the shadows lengthen suddenly. The light is snuffed out and the eyes must get used to the dark. At the beginning the feeling almost makes you shiver: moving along a mountain trail, at altitude, trusting every step to the light of a LED torch, tired after a whole day’s walking… You seem to become disorientated. You feel tiny and alone in the immensity of nature. But then, gradually, the night begins to fill with sound. The sky is dotted with stars, and the moon – a consummate prima donna – makes her appearance, piercing the darkness like a shield. And now the spectacle begins. Anxiety is replaced by an inexpressible serenity”.
Stefano Torrione from the Aosta Valley, photographer, author and contributor to many magazines, for which he travelled through many countries all over the world, has followed the Tor des Géants right from its first edition, and has remained fascinated by it, and by the discovery of a rarely seen aspect of the Aosta Valley.
“Tor des Géants. Valle d’Aosta”
A photographic report by Stefano Torrione.
Text: Paola Pignatelli. Photos: Monica Parussolo.
Sime Books, 2012