Thomas Monsorno is an action sports and outdoor photographer based in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy. The beautiful mountains in the heart of the Italian Alps and his passion for sports and nature shaped him as a photographer during the last few years. His work is a collection of sports, documentary, lifestyle, and travel photography.
Matteo Pavana is also an action sports and outdoor photographer based in Bolzano, Italy. “Taking pictures, filming, and telling stories with sincerity are qualities that I really appreciate in a person", he says. Matteo has chosen a vertical world to give life to his deep sensations and geometries of his thoughts. He alternates between gravitational and emotional models, with the sincerity and humility of one who is aware that from the world of exploration there is always something new to learn and to share. "With a smile, then, everything becomes much easier", he says.
Words and video by Matteo Pavana
Photos by Thomas Monsorno
Slackliners Benjamin Kofler, Mattia Felicetti
Slainte. It literally means "cheers" in Scottish. That’s what a slightly drunk gentleman told us one night when we entered a pub after a very rainy day on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. If we truly lived this short-but-intense experience, it is all thanks to the curious and creative nature of Thomas and to that little bit of luck that never hurts.
That day had rained continuously and we were in a pub to try to shake off moisture. It had been a strange, fine rain, which, depending on the wind, became more or less sharp, like little blades that cut us. Thomas, Stefano, and I had spent the day in a kind of tent fixed between the stones at the base of The Old Man of Storr in order to protect us from the rain. But the gusts of wind came in from all directions, and with them the water. In the meantime, Benni and Mattia worked in the rain to fix the highline in the best way possible in basalt of poor quality.
We had underestimated this part of the plan. We assumed that the rock pinnacles were steady and reliable. In addition, the thick fog certainly did not improve the situation. We had to stay in radio contact all day because we could not see more than a few meters from the tips of our noses. Looking back now, it was probably better that way.
The Old Man of Storr is a very touristy place on the Isle of Skye. Visitors come and go to admire these giants that rise up like nothing else out of the patches of truly intense green grass. Yet, despite this vivid color, I seemed to perceive a presence, as if this place was inhabited by some spirit. Maybe I'm just susceptible because of the legends I’ve read about this place.
As the legend goes, in the early years of Christianity in Scotland, a dispute raged among the people who inhabited the island about the exact date of Easter. To put an end to the controversy, the priest of Skye decided to go to Rome to talk to the Pope himself. Climbing the Old Man of Storr at dawn, just as the sun began to rise, he performed a spell that made the devil appear in the form of a flying horse. During the journey to Rome the devil questioned the priest about the reason for the trip. The priest had to use all his wits to answer the questions truthfully while avoiding mentioning the name of God, which if said aloud would have broken the spell, causing the devil to disappear and the priest to fall into the sea.
The priest succeeded, arrived in Rome, learned the date of Easter, and returned safely to Skye. The devil was so impressed and angered by the priest's intelligence that as he disappeared he uttered the threatening words, "Until we meet again".
Over the radio I hear Mattia saying to me that the highline is fixed: 110 meters long and about 50 meters from the ground. In that dark and gloomy atmosphere the Old Man inspires fear. It's almost scary.
The weather forecast remained uncertain for the next day and a half, so we did not know if Benni and Mattia would be able to walk the highline. And Thomas and I were not sure if we would get all the images we wanted.
But sometimes it's strange, you have the feeling that things get better, without a reason, even when the science of weather forecasting seems to say otherwise.
You feel optimistic. You feel lucky.
You feel that everything will be all right, even though you’ve arrived at a place where the words "good weather" cannot mean much more than "maybe today it won’t rain". The following morning the clouds that initially covered the sky slowly cleared away. As we climbed up to The Old Man, I saw our long line stretched between those immobile pillars that have been together for hundreds of years. The good weather had attracted many tourists who tried to understand the purpose of our line, what it was, why it was there.
The closer we got, the more we were on the lookout for any police officers waiting to ambush us. I was in the middle of this situation that belonged only to us, something that we had built simply for the desire to do it, to complete something of our own. The more time that passed the more the elements began to blend harmoniously. Initially the light filtered through the clouds and then, at the end of the evening, illuminated everything around us. Ultimately, Benni walked the line, staying in balance for almost fifteen minutes while crossing its entire length.
The night never came because of our close distance to the North Pole. The moon played above our heads. It was one of the few occasions in my life that I felt privileged, as though I was in the right place at the right time, as if it were the only chance to be able to really shoot what I was experiencing. We have immortalized one of those rare shows that for two outdoor photographers represents a true whole and intimate conjunction with nature.