Tristan Ibarz is a skier, alpinist and professional photographer. He lives at the base of the French Pyrenees in the beautiful Ariège region, not too far from Toulouse.
He is not only a Talented landscape photographer but also a ski instructor. Since his very young age, he has been spending most of his time in the mountains, which he now knows extremely well.
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A bit of background…
Where are you based?
I grew up near the mountains. I come from Ariège, close to Toulouse. It’s right down the Pyrenees.
Can you tell us more about your background?
My parents were both seasonal workers (my dad was a ski instructor) so they were working every winter in ski resorts. I can’t even remember when I started skiing. I have the feeling that I’ve always been in the mountains.
Maybe because of that, I always preferred to be in Nature. Cities and towns, with loads of people, were and are not really for me.
I went to University in Toulouse, to study History. I then started studying to be a school teacher but never became one as I quickly realised I wanted to spend more time in nature and have an activity that would be more linked to the outdoors.
What kind of person are you?
I don’t really like being surrounded by mass and a big group of people. I like being alone and can go out in the mountains on my own.
When we go out with friends, it’s usually a small group. We also like to spend the night up there, sleeping on the floor (not in a hut). I think it really connects us with the environment and with the moment. It’s much more like an adventure than if you go up for the day.
Current life and future projects
When did you start photography?
I started photography during my studies. I went to study abroad in Quebec. With its wide spaces and immense nature, I wanted to immortalise those moments, so I started photography.
I’m selling my art prints through my website. They are limited to 30 copies.
What is your next project?
What I have in mind would be to climb all the peaks of more than 3,000m in the Pyrenees. I reckon it would take 1 month or 2 if you are fast. Not sure when I will do that, but that’s definitely my mid/long term project.
What is your favourite spot in the area?
I have many favourite spots, but for a first-timer, I would recommend going to the Soulcem Valley. It’s an ancient glacier valley. It’s absolutely fantastic. There is a magnificent lake at 1,600m. It’s near the border with Andorra so you can enjoy the summits there as well.
What is the best quality of a climber?
One excellent quality you need is to be able to say no. It’s essential. It’s better to back off from a climb, not die or get injured, and be able to come back. Once, we were climbing the highest mountain in Ariège. It was snowing. It was quite steep; the slope was at 40/50 degree angle. After struggling a bit with the conditions, we decided to go back down and abandoned. A few minutes later, we heard 2 avalanches that passed right where we were…