Baffin Island - The Ascent of Mount Asgard
If you saw Alastair Lee's award-wining film, the Asgard Project, then you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the book, which Lee has put together using a combination of large format stills taken on the expedition and the contents of his head. It is, effectively, the book of the film of the expedition.
If you haven't, it goes a bit like this: Leo Houlding and team decide to go climb a whopping great face in the Canadian Arctic, Lee goes along to make the film, it's a long, long walk in, so Houlding and the other climbers get to base camp by jumping out of a plane - everyone else walks and it takes ages. It's cold, very cold, and climbing the face is brutally hard, but they somehow manage it. At the top, Houlding and Sean Leary jump off in wingsuits, leaving Lee and co to descend the face and strip the gear. The end.
It makes a good film, but the good news is that it also makes a very watchable book thanks to a combination of Lee's photographic eye and some stunning scenery. We say 'watchable' because although there are words in there, it's the images that make the book and most readers, we suspect, will use it coffee table-style for vicarious climbing sessions, general inspiration and idle escapist flick-throughs.
Anyway, what you get for your £25 are some stunning images of a landscape that's rather less visited than most - Asgard itself looks like a genetic transplant from Patagonia - combined with some evocative climbing action shots, the pick of which is arguably the wincingly hurty-looking portrait of Houlding complete with shredded hands. The text is worth reading too, if only to put the stunning images in context, but it's the photos that steal the show.
It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but let's put it this way. We're already wondering how practical it is to set up an independent trekking trip in the area - it's that stunning. But don't take our word for it, here are a few photos of photos to whet your appetite.
Finally, anyone thinking about emulating Houlding and co and sky-diving in the area should note that they're prohibited without special permission. Because, of course, we were thinking of doing just that, ahem...
Baffin Island is published by Frances Lincoln in hardback - 34x24cm / 120 pages - at £25. You can also buy it direct from Alastair Lee's web site at alastairleephotography.co.uk.