The Stelvio is probably the most photographed climb in the world. The classic view looking down the 48 hairpins towards Prato is instantly recognisable by cyclists and motorists alike. For many cyclists the picture represents a trophy for conquering the gruelling climb. As a photographer you try to look for different views to capture but it’s hard to walk away from such a scene without at least taking a few shots.
I’ve spent many occasions photographing the Stelvio and have witnessed all sorts of weather, both sublime and awful. I can remember walking up from the Bormio side on a particularly foul day to watch and photograph the Giro in 2013. As the race approached a press motorbike stopped beside me. On the back was Graham Watson, a fantastic cycling photographer, frozen to the bone. It was sleeting and while it was bad for the riders it seemed even worse for the press photographers, who had no means of generating heat to keep warm. This moment probably steered me away from ever wanting to shoot action. It’s a tough life sitting on a motorbike for hours and hours in all sorts of weather. In many ways it is not so different from a pro cyclist doing the same and moving from one hotel to the next. From the outside very glamorous – but I’m not sure that’s the reality.
That’s not to say I haven’t experienced my fair share of bad weather. On several occasions I’ve visited the Stelvio early in the season only to be confronted with closed roads and thick snow. These days can present an opportunity to create something different, an alternative to the classic Prato shot. Here are some of the shots I’ve captured during all types of weather and seasons on the Stelvio, some of which are featured in Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs.