408 KM | Noufonts, Pyrenees – Tête de l’Estrop, Alps

The most distant sunrise
Distance 408 Kilometers
Camera Nikon P900 @ ISO100 – 1/1600
Lens F8 zoom 2000 mm eq.
Date July 16th 2019 – 06:20 aprox

May be  the most distant sunrise photographied in the world.

Five years ago, we managed to portray for the first time the cornices of the Alps from the Pyrenees and it was precisely this mountain our goal from the Canigó. In this new occasion the objective has been to portray it better and from further away, from the top of the Noufonts and this is the result. The Estrop partially eclipsing the great solar disk.

Perhaps the astro-landscape photographed further away on our planet, thanks to the peculiar geography that extends between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the clean air and the sun.


As we have already explained several times, the conjunctions of the sun with some singular part of our landscapes are the magic that allows to appear at certain moments of the year certain distant reliefs almost always hidden by the atmospheric turbidity. Personally years ago I had the idea that certain mountains of the Alps could be seen from the Pyrenees thanks to certain astro-scenic moments. The Tête de l’Estrop was chosen from the Canigó for an alpine sunrise and a few months later (*) of that feat, conversely, another photographer chose a cornice from the Estrop massif to portray a sunset behind the Pyrenees. We recorded it in a report that we dedicate to him and it turned out to be (we believe) the photo of the most distant sunset of an astrolandscape in the world reached to date.

Personally, after our objective from the Canigó, I have always wanted to portray the Estrop in other sunrises from the other peaks of the Pyrenees and had already made some attempt in the past, although on a certain occasion the clouds got in the way and at other times for other reasons I didn’t go that.

For this new year, in May I was about to go, but in the date the clouds were too abundant. In this occasion in the middle of summer, however, it seemed that probably the sky could be clearly cloudless (although with some doubts) and I decided to go to the Noufons, a beautiful border point accessible from the Núria Valley and also chosen to be the farthest peak from the Estrop as well as the Finestrelles it was -3 years ago- in relation to the Barre des Ecrins and in that case a mundial record of distants lanscapes contemplated from the mainland.

Portraying the Estrop would also suppose the experience of knowing that we would be contemplating perhaps, the sunrise behind the most distant landscape ever seen before, or at least -maybe- not reported in pictures.

For get it I would must adapt to solar mathematics. The days in which the the Estrop cross in front of sun I deduced that it would be on July 16 and 17, but meteorologically (factor to be taken into account also) the most suitable seemed to be the first of both.

Said and done, with a couple of companions of adventures (Pep Puig, photographer and pau Gaspar, musiscian) we went to Núria walking from Fontalba (1:30) and from there during the night and before dawn, ascending to the Noufonts in a few hours more, walking most of the time without a flashlight, thanks to the light of the full moon.
At the foot of the Noufonts pass we planted a tent for rest because one of the companions had some problem. Then we continued towards the hill, the stretch was hard for Pau, but admirable because he had been voluntarily without eating anything for days and had the intention to continue living without eating..

When arriving at the cornice, a little before 6:00 am, the sky even at night presented that brilliance concentrated in a thin strip of the sky very distant above Italy, synonym of quite transparent atmosphere. Below a reddish stripe and already more tenuous the lower area. Immediately Ventor (319 Kms) was noticed but only the upper part was perceived with relative clarity.  That mountain is a great reference of Provence from the sea and from the land.. To the left there were the prealps and the higher elevations “something” was seen also, but that day it wasn’t my objective and I didn’t try to distinguish them or take pictures. The goal was the roof of Provence.

The moon was hidden near of Fontalba (our point of departure of walk) and the colleague Pau decided to stop close to the top of the NouFonts to contemplate serenely the dawn (he’s musiscian, not enthusiasm for pictures but he likes a lot to contemplate sunrises) and “feed on light” that was to emerge. I continued a little more upwards with the aim that the cornice of Puig del Racó Gros (which once hid me Ecrins from the Puigmal) would not hinder the vision of the Estrop.

I saw the first moment of the sun’s appearance and I photographed it. Then I was following the sun on a flat horizon.. Anyway, for a enough seconds nothing appeared. I thought that maybe there was a layer of low clouds or I also thought that maybe I had made a mistake in the precisions of dated…
Suddenly, when the sun was halfway through, the silhouette appeared!.
My objective of enjoying contemplation at a glance (in addition to taking a picture) I couldn’t it. The sun shone so brightly that it was dangerous (I thought), despite the distance and so much air in between. For prudence, I limited myself almost to look at the sun through the viewsecreen of the càmera.
By the other hand I had some problems with the focus. I had to focus first on other parts of the horizon to achieve the infinit and then point to the Estrop every time I made a new pic. When the mountain was positioned equidistant from both sides of the sun (although lower that I liked) I clicked. My goal was to try not only the summit of the Estrop but also another part of the massif slightly more distant and only perceived with good optical refraction factor (Trois Eveches). In any case, this eastern point didn’t have the aesthetic beauty of the Estrop.

After a few more seconds, the sun “took off” from the Earth and in conseqüence the Estrop disappeared completely hidden by the strong bath of atmospheric light. So there were no more opportunities, the peaks showed less than the sunrise itself. The photograph, however, was made.

Soon the sun began to illuminate the peaks next to the Noufonts. The Finestrelles was one of the first, with Eina and Segre in both sides followed of the Puigmal, which although higher (2910 m), had the initial sun behind Canigó and therefore is not apt to see the top of the provence. The Finestrelles, so close, just 3 years ago, on the same date, had allowed me to portray the Ecrins. Soon after, the sun also illuminated the Pedraforca also, a silhouette of mountain much appreciated by many Catalans … And finally all that remained to be illuminated. The sun, shines for everyone.

Note (*): Between those days, a dramatic event took place in that mountain that unfortunately made it more famous than our photographs: The most terrible aviation accident of the last decades in Europe, the pilot of Germanwings committed suicide by crashing his plane full of passengers against the mountain.

We hope that nothing similar will happen again, that the Estrop attract in any case only “good follies”. Mountains can detonate many emotions and humans are strong and vulnerable at the same time in relation to the universe.

Some more pictures:

Thanks Pep and Pau for share this ascension and thank to all people that love the nature with its secrets and the beauty of all its landscapes.

Anex: Illustration of the panoramic simulation obtained thanks to the Ulrich Deuschle program for the Tete de l’Estrop seen from the Noufonts with the appropriate precise refraction.


2 thoughts on “408 KM | Noufonts, Pyrenees – Tête de l’Estrop, Alps

  1. Pingback: The Flat Earth Red Pill | Flat Earth Tribe

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