Rouleur Cover Stories: issue 56 – Galibier by Paolo Ciaberta

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Paying respect to the ‘mostro sacro’ of the Col du Galibier in the French Alps, Paolo Ciaberta looks for perfect light and composition for Rouleur issue 56.

Photographs: Paolo Ciaberta

In Italy we call mountains like this “mostro sacro”, which translates as “sacred monster.” It is reserved for the most important mountains; mountains one must have enormous respect for when one comes face to face with them.


I reached the summit of the Galibier by car with Andy McGrath for an article about French Alps. As always happens in the mountains, we got up very early in the morning to be at the top at dawn.


The clouds made the landscape even more majestic, and after bend after bend we reached the summit at 2645m, alone without any other cars or motorbikes.


Compared to other mountains I was struck by the sweetness of the landscape of green fields and placid grazing cows that hide how relentless the climb can be.


Light and composition are the secret for landscape images. For the light you have to choose the best time, usually early in the morning or at the dawn but definitely avoiding the height of the day.


Composition is a mix of experience and creativity. I always try to create images that make allow cycling fans to dream. In order to do this I look for bends, hairpins, inclines and scenery trying to recreate the majesty of the context.


Certainly when I saw the word “Bugno” written on the stones I tried to insert it in the composition; as an Italian it is closely connected with my presence there.


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