The Spirit of Alpinism: A Photo Journey

At MSR we have the privilege of working with many talented, worldclass photographers. One such photographer is Peter Mathis. Hailing from Hohenems, Austria, Peter has long captured MSR products in the demanding environments they’re engineered to endure. His images are always stunning, seeming to pause time and capture the raw and challenging nature of adventure. Take this photo journey with Peter as he explains his five favorite MSR shots, their backstories and what he finds inspirational about each.

Mitch and Bibi Ttölderer in the Kalkkögel Mountains near Innsbruck, Austria

This photograph shows the different aspects of alpinism. First it is the dimensions of man and nature. You see how small a person is compared to the mountains. Second, you can feel the elements: the wind blowing the snow high into the air; the icy chill of a winter day in the Alps.

Helli Scheichl and Nadine Wallner, Aiguilles from Chamonix, France.

This image takes you soaring up to the high altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level. The tracks in the foreground take your eye on a journey along the path that the two mountaineers have already traversed. They also give the photography depth and a sense of forward movement. The direct sunlight coming straight into the lens makes the air crisp and clear.

Nadine Wallner and Mitch Tölderer on the Piz Palü region, Switzerland.
Nadine Wallner and Mitch Tölderer on the Piz Palü region, Switzerland.

Here, I think the view from above makes a classic shot more interesting. For this view, I used a four meter long aluminium rack. The lines in the foreground have been designed by wind and break up the austere white plane. Though it’s a vertical shot, this image still captures the great expanse of the immense mountain landscape, with the summit of Piz Palü in the background watching over the snowshoers.

Jakob Schweighofer and Helli Scheichl on Arlberg, Austria.

This was another stormy day on a skitour in the Arlberg. In the shot, you can see the strong wind blowing snow into face of the skiers, and then up into the blue winter sky. I love too how clearly the MSR poles are supporting the skier in this rugged and real environment and how obviously crucial of a piece of gear the poles are to mountain travelers.

Helli Scheichl and Nadine Wallner on Aiguille du Midi, France.

Whenever I see this photo, I can feel how heavy the backpack must be with all that equipment for a hard climb somewhere in the Alps. You get the sense of how steep and hard this approach is to the base of the wall. And yet the climbers look confident and connected to the snow, with trust in their snowshoes.


Peter Mathis was born in 1961 and lives in Hohenems, Austria. His internationally commissioned work takes him all over the world.

Since 1986, the primary focus of his work has been outdoor and sports photography. Dynamic shots of skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, cycle racing, motor sports and landscapes show him to be a true master of his craft.

Today he is hired by national and international companies, magazines and agencies and his pictures appear regularly in the specialist press and in advertising.