Susan Dobson’s Himalayan art adventure

Susan Dobson, an experienced mountaineer and climber, combines her two greatest passions to create her work which celebrates the mountain environment.  Susan’s recent exhibition ‘Mountains in Mind’, where she displayed her drawings from previous expeditions, was part of the 2010 Kendal Mountain Festival.

Susan is spending the whole of February on a drawing trip to the Himalayas where she will be based at the Annapurna Sanctuary.  Berghaus has provided Susan with kit to keep her warm, dry and comfortable while at work, and she has been sending back updates from her adventures out there.

We have collected them together into the following account.

‘Chomrong to ABC and back!’

Before we left Chomrong, Lakpa, our guide out here, agreed to be a climbing sherpa with the forthcoming expedition to Manaslu at the end of March – so we are in safe hands!!

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Three days of steep ascents and descents, and endless steps.  Frosty mornings and hot, sunny days. Then above Deorali the ‘gates’ of the Sanctuary come into sight with Gangapurna gleaming white and fluted against the clear blue sky.  This is exciting.  Can’t wait to see the full panorama!

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Arrive Machhupuchhare Base Camp (MBC). A cup of hot chocolate against the excruciating cold – and the mountains have disappeared in rolling cloud.  Magically, it all clears around 4.30pm and I even manage to get a drawing in.  Then we watch as a magnificent sunset turns Machhupuchhare golden and pink.

Next morning dawns clear and bright for the walk to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).  The sun rises over the peak of Machhupuchhare about 9.30am creating magical rays of light.

Get another drawing of big M from the col, ABC now in sight.

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Sunday morning – off to work!  Mountains too dazzling in the early sun to look at.  Along the moraine, perched on the edge of 100m sheer drop to the South Annapurna glacier – perfect spot to draw Annapurna South.  Brilliant sunshine, bitter wind.  Am well on with drawing when cloud rolls in freezing the bones and hiding the mountains again.

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Patience required.  Sit and watch fascinating show of bubbling cloud, changing light, glimpses of skyline and hints of rock and ice.  Finally, Annapurna reveals herself again and I can work with the watercolours to complete the drawing.  By 5pm, driving snow, high winds, no sunset!

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Monday morning, grab the chance to get another drawing of Machhupuchhare.  Good start – very atmospheric with all the swirling cloud periodically obscuring the view – but will make a good monoprint.  Finally, cloud comes to stay so all drawing over.

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Journey down the valley through snow and thunderstorms to Chomrong, another three days.  Thank goodness for the Berghaus waterproof kit!  Jacket and trousers keep me very dry in torrential rainstorms and down vest is just the ticket in fire-less lodges and for drawing while out in the snow.

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Next stop Ghorepani.  Hoping for a view of the Annapurnas to equal that of Kangchenjunga from Darjeeling.

We’re looking forward to hearing more from Susan soon, so keep your eyes open for updates.

When Susan returns to the UK, her solo exhibition, ‘Mountains of Inspiration’, will open at the Gateshead Library Gallery on Saturday 19 March where her drawings from the Annapurna trip will be on display, as well as work from previous expeditions.

Read other Berghaus News here.