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  • Writer's pictureEduardo Almeida

On the Edge of Freedom

Updated: Feb 16

May 2023

Trolltind (Troll's Peak) - Møre og Romsdal, Norway. 2015

Silver gelatin print · Limited edition to 30 prints of 10¼ x 10¼ in.

"Do a little more of that work which you had sometime confessed to be good, which you feel that society and your justest judge rightly demands of you. Do what you reprove yourself for not doing. Know that you are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with yourself without reason. Let me say to you and to myself in one breath, cultivate the tree which you have found to bear fruit in your soil.".


                      Henry David Thoreau

Diarios, después del 29 de julio de 1850

How far do we know the limits of our freedom? Is art the result of a purely free action, or does it arise from the irrepressible need for expression? Are creative concerns a passport to the freedom, or perhaps they are the chains that drag us to the sacrifice of self-realization?




Norway, August 2015.


Mónica and I started walking early in the morning. We still had more than five miles ahead of us and 3.770 feet of unevenness to the top. Luckily, the mild Norwegian summer offer us overcast skies with a slight chance of rain. I had never endured the summer sun, especially when it punishes you against the rough mountain rock. The approach would be hard, but at least, the weather conditions were favorable.


The day before we went by car to the east face. From the visitors center we could look full of admiration at the 3,600 feet vertical wall of Trollveggen. The highest mountain cliff in Europe has been from decades the dream of many climbers and base jumpers, and also their end. Since 1966, 21 people have died at the impossing Troll’s Wall. Although this data deters most humans, for mountain lovers it’s not but an incentive, an assumable risk for the success of the adventure.


I had seen hundreds of images of Trollveggen, but all of them had one thing in common: The wall had always been photographed from its east side. From my point of view, this perspective didn’t offer a real vision of what immense rock wall was transmitting to me. The visitors center parking was undoubtedly the most accessible place from which take a photo of it, which is why most of photographs had been taken from there. I needed another perspective to photograph it, and the only place from which I never found images was from the top that crowned the great wall: Trolltind, The Troll’s Peak.


Returning to the ascent day, Mónica and I were walking along the path, towards a high meadow where we could make the first stop to rest. I still doubted if I could even frame the wall, or a part of it, from near the top. At worst, we would enjoy a high mountain trekking in one of the most beautiful places I can remember.


After crossing the meadow, we begin the high mountain journey. Just as we began to walk among the rocks, a climber who was going down looked at us with a big smile and said:


-       “Do you like rocks?”


At that moment I didn’t understand what he meant, until a few minutes later… Several miles and at least two or three hours of rocky road awaited us, no trails, no paths, just rocks, just damn loose rocks! With each step we took, we rested our foot on a stone that almost always tended to turn under our weight and destabilize us, with a high risk of causing injury. There were only two ways to get out of there: Walking or by helicopter.


It’s exhausting that at every step there is an element that threatens your stability. I cannot remember any experience in the mountains in which I have suffered in a similar way. The concentration required to avoid a fall or sprained ankle was so intense, that every few meters we had to stop to rest, physically and mentally.


In that moment I considered leaving everything. Not just the route to the top, but the reason that had led me there and to that situation. I thought of those people whose life philosophy was to have an easy life, without any complications. I wanted to be one of those people, and I promised myself that after that experience, I would do my best to become one of them. But first, we had to get out of there.


I looked at my GPS and saw that we were less than a mile from the end of the scree. If we went back, all the effort would have been in vain on the verge of reaching the goal. It would be like drowning on the shore after swimming miles in a rough sea. After rest for a while, we continued advancing. At the end of the scree we found the last stretch of ascent to the top, approximately one mile long, this time on compact rock with good grip.


In just twenty minutes we were up. This last part was like climbing a large rocky hill, smooth and round, and when we reached the edge, the impression was incredible! A strong icy wind his us un the face from the other side of the immense cliff. Suddenly, the mountain disappeared and the shudder when looking towards de valley, 3,600 feet below, was terrible! Vertigo took over me and I couldn’t get closer to the edge, and I was scared that Mónica would also get closer to the precipice. On several occasions I asked her to please move away from it when she leaned out to take a look.


After calming down, I realized that light was changing. The gray and leading sky, which had accompanied us throughout the ascent, began to open slightly and filter the sun’s rays. It was a sweet and delicate light, very unusual at the time we reached the top, just after 1 p.m. in the afternoon. Looking towards the edge of the cut, I visualized the image. The frame quickly appeared in my mind, perpendicular to the precipice and taking the peak’s top as the protagonist.


I unfolded the tripod and placed my Hasselblad on it. To frame the scene, I need a wide-angle lens, so I attached my Zeiss Distagon 50 mm CF FLE, a lens with a floating element and two focus rings. This allowed me to focus from the rocks in the foreground, just five feet from the camera, to infinity with exceptional sharpness. I measured the light with my spotmeter and made several exposures, placing a red filter in front of the lens that gave drama to the sky. The scene showed the majestic top of the peak, broken, cut, leaning over the edge of an endless precipice.


At that moment nothing could compare to the emotion of capturing thar image. Every damn rock in the way had been worth it for just that one photograph.


Back in the car I thought again about those people whose life philosophy was to have an easy life, without any complications. Was I free to choose to be one of them? In any case, after the experience, I didn’t want to be one either, or perhaps I never had the freedom to be one or to be able to choose.


Perhaps the freedom of the human being lies in being a slave to their interests.


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