403 KM | Puy de la Seche, Alps – Pic de l’Infern, Pyrenees

agrandissement pic de prats de bassibes
Distance403 Kilometers
ByJoseph Mordelet
CameraCanon EOS 1100D – 1/200 – ISO 100
LensSigma 70/300 @ 300mm – f/7.1
DateJanuary 6th 2015 – 17:30

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The farthest sunset ever captured!

The silhouette of the Canigó massif and Pic de Prats de Bacivers (Pyreness) in front of the sun with a superior mirage effect .

It’s probably currently the farthest sharp photo (*1) of a horizon made from another land point and and possibly also the most distant setting sun photographed. In this regard it’s a new world record.

Joseph Mordelet is a big photographer of distant mountains from the region of , Provence (France). It has often portrayed the Canigó massif from various points, especially from a privileged site, the Astronomical Observatory of Mont Chiran, where sometimes he works in certain occasions.
However he thought about the challenge of portraying the Pyrenees from other more distant point, some mountain in the Alps and he choise the Puy de la Seche (2820 m), the same summit which had been portrayed by us last July from Canigó.

Joseph thought, like in other occasions when he has made phenomenal images, that the best way to realize was to consider the best instant of the Sun on its way. He was able to determine the precise day and hour of that event and then he planned the climb with a companion, F.Besombes. Last winter they reached the top of the mountain at the right time and not only got to photograph the Canigó massif but also other peak: The Prat de Bacivers (or Prat de Bassibés in French) 2845 m high. Surprising aspect, with a mirror image on itself due to a intense atmospheric refraction and a cold mirage!. And a extreme distance, 401 Km!.
That peak has two summits like we can see in this other taken of closer. The remote photo of Joseph also show the same points.

However, considering the high refractive index of that day It even seems that was photographed another mountain also even still more distant!:  The Pic de l’Infern (or l’Enfer) (403 Km in this case!). The line of sight it’s possible with the degree of refraction which appears to be in the picture.  We can see a profile of this perspective more down. That ultradistant peak it’s located on the border with the neighboring state and it reach almost 2870 meters high above the sea. Moreover you can also to see the coincidence of positions in the panorama of Ulrich Deuschle simulator after applying a high refractive index. Here a comparative ilustration easier to compare. Furthermore, it can be considered that the Pic de l’Infern is actually more pointed as the graphical appearance, and therefore more similar to the picture.

In any case (one or two summits) this has meant covering a distance of over 400 km !, because at least one of them I think almost not in doubt.

Then I attached the description of the adventure written by the author of the photographs.

To summarize our ascent:

Starting Mézel (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, where we live) around 8 am towards the hamlet of Saume-Longe (old town Mariaud) arrival on site 11h a little late, we equip us for the climb will be hard, non-stop positive altitude 1400m over 5km away, the last 500 meters in altitude in the snow and ice, crampons and ice axes …

The weather is clear.

En route we meet two chamois, ibex thirty, marmots (in January!), Traces of wolves and vultures …
It was for me the first time I chaussais spikes … is effective this stuff!
The walk is beautiful but tiring and the day well advanced …
We must get to the top before 16h45mn to set up, the bag is heavy, and must hurry up on the end …
We finally just on time!

-2 ° C, it is rather hot for an altitude of 2820m at 17h a January 5?
No wind.
Tripod output and Digital Camera (Canon Eos 1100d and zoom sigma 70/300 to 300mm), it was time for it begins …
One or two panorama website, a photo of Mont Blanc at 176km, and go for a little time lapse of the Pyrenees …
Canigou is here !!!!! at 380km, and another mountain which I do not know yet? We’ll have to go down and analyze images.
We celebrate it quickly with a shot of Muscat de Rivesaltes and a cigar !!! ^^
Now finished joke have to go down, the night arrived.
The spikes in part goes well, surprisingly.
Two or three hesitations on the way forward because it is not really plot … but ok …
Then an error on the last part … we find ourselves on a “robine” (land slope / black marl and steep) stuck between two cliffs, one above and one below!
We took south too soon, and are not quite down, the night has deceived us …
1:30 galley, turning to look for a possible switch to move on the roads without chamois whether we were on the right side!
Finally much lower, we find traces of our go! the path is here!
Still 1h30mn walking and we’re back to the car.
Back home at 0:30, it took us 6 hours to go up and down for 5 hours.
But against all odds the picture is done!
The other mountain is the Pic de Prats Bassibès at 401km, I’m happy because I
had read it a few years ago that we could not see more than 400km ??? !!!

I’m sure now that this is wrong!

Almost three months later …
On March 24, 2015 at 10am …
A Germanwings Airbus A320 in …
In a “robine” … a few hundred meters from one where we had lost our way …
The axis of the flight, that of our photo …
R.I.P to them all.

des Alpes aux Pyrénées fs


Ilustrated by Joseph, on the google earth map. The Gulf of Lions is crucial to save this great distance.

profile infern puy de la seche
Ilustration with a view profile, in this case reaching the Pic de l’infern (or l’Enfer also, in french) that I generated from the simulator heywhatsthat. You can click for enlarge.

couché de soleil sur le canigou a 380km et pic de prats de Bassibes a 401km

Image in the instant when the sun was over the Canigou.

le sommet du puy de la sèche a gauche, encore 800m a grimper

During the ascension. The summit of the Puy de la Seche at left, still has 800m for climb.

luberon, canigou, lure, et ventoux

A panoramic image wider at the top. Joseph noted in this picture some peaks closer, prominent and well known of Provence. Recommended click on picture to enlarge.

On the other hand, and as I said in the introduction, Joseph has a large collection of other distant pictures taken by himself in the past, as well as astronomical, meteorological and nature photographs. I highly recommend visiting his own gallery to enjoy much more of each. You can see it here!.

Merci Joseph pour vos photos!


note (1): I refer specifically to well contrasted photography. A more distant, but much more tenuous photograph I made myself 3 days before from the eastern Pyrenees, 430 km to Ecrins, it can be seen at this link.


5 thoughts on “403 KM | Puy de la Seche, Alps – Pic de l’Infern, Pyrenees

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