The mountains are calling // Family project during COVID-19 lockdown.

I have always loved going to the mountains.

I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria at the foot of Vitosha mountain with its highest peak – Cherni Vrah (Black Peak 2925m). I remember in the winters we used to go for a half a day of skiing and still managed to go back home to have an afternoon tea and do some work.

When I was training in the summers I used to run up to Black Peak and rest in the small hut at the top where there was always warm herbal tea and bean soup. Happy times.

Fast forward to 2020. I live in Brussels, Belgium with my wife Tanya and my daughter Lilia and courtesy of the Covid-19 virus, we are all in confinement here. Being stuck at home is no fun, but I dream of all the beautiful mountains we will visit and all the photos I will take when we are finally allowed to travel again.

One morning I woke up with an idea for a project in my mind and I took my 5-year old daughter along for the ride. It was a simple one – we were to take all the photos in our apartment, one photo each day, all of them representing different outdoor activities and our love for the mountains.

We took all the photos between the 30th of March and the 4th of May when the official confinement period in Belgium ended.

Creating these photos alongside my daughter was an awesome adventure. I loved showing her that we are all born creative. It is up to us to rekindle our creativity and have fun 😉

29th of March. Day 1 of our mountain adventure @home. It all started with this one photo. The rest is history as they say 🙂

30th of March. Day 2 of our mountain adventure @home. The mountains are calling and I must go. Lily as well 😉

31st of March. Day 3 of our mountain adventure @home. Lily is helping as usual 🙂

1st of April. Day 4 of our mountain adventure @home. Tricky rescue operation today on a peak near by, but I am glad I have a reliable partner to belay me.

2rd of April. Day 5 of our mountain adventure @home. I was a bit sad, so Lily decided to bring me closer to the mountains. And she succeeded 🙂

3rd of April. Day 6 of our mountain adventure @home. Education is important, so we read as much as possible 😉

4th of April. Day 7 of our mountain adventure @home. Last night I slept under the Nordwand. Figuratively speaking. And now a bit of trivia: The photo projected behind me I took in 2008. It is one of the most iconic faces in the Alps – The North Face of Eiger (3967m) as seen from Grindelwald, Switzerland. There is an AWESOME movie based on real events about a group of alpinists trying to climb the north face in 1936, called “Nordwand” (North Face) and if you like mountains I highly recommend you check it out.

5th of April. Day 8 of our mountain adventure @home. Sunday funday, but rest assured no children or grownups were harmed during today’s adventure. As a friend told me long time ago, skiing is the best way to clear your head since you are way too preoccupied with the task of staying alive, to think about anything else 🙂

6th of April. Day 9 of our mountain adventure @home. It’s been weeks now, since the start of the lockdown and every day feels like a “holiday”, so it’s about damn time we start decorating. The theme, as you have already guessed, is mountains 🙂 On to the next room.

7th of April. Day 10 of our mountain adventure @home. The one with the meditation. And the laughing girl. And the glass of water. And the mom whispering: Go, go, go!

8th of April. Day 11 of our mountain adventure @home. I heard some people complaining about having to telework from home, so I decided to try it. Disaster 🙂

9th of April. Day 12 of our mountain adventure @home. Being in the mountains is AWESOME and FUN, but can also be DANGEROUS. We lost a few good stuffed animals today while climbing “El Cheminée de Roodebeek” (4½ m).

10th of April. It is day 13 of our mountain adventure @home. Today we are crossing a crevasse just above the valley of Chamonix 🙂 In case you are wondering it is Lily herself picking the outfits she wears in the photos.

11th of April. Day 14 of our mountain adventure @home. Today we did some ski touring along the cult Chamonix to Zermatt high alpine route. It was fun!

12th of April. Day 15 of our mountain adventure @home. It was a gruelling day today, spent mostly climbing and searching. And later eating all the chocolate eggs we found. So, I don’t complain 😉 Happy Easter everyone!

12th of April

13th of April. Day 16 of our mountain adventure @home.Today I wanted to introduce Lily to the idea of ski alpinism (climbing up mountains and skiing down them). Apparently I wasn’t making it real enough, so my family decided to “help” me 🙂 Lily is trying to start an avalanche and Tanya is making a real snow storm.

14th of April. Day 17 of our mountain adventure @home. Today we are in the Austrian Alps and Lily will take part in the scary Streif downhill race over Kitzbühel. She will. She will. She just needs a little bit of encouragement 🙂

15th of April. Day 18 of our mountain adventure @home. Lily is taking the lead today while we are tackling the west face of Siula Grande – a peak in the Peruvian Andes. This photo is inspired by the amazing movie “Touching the void” (2003) about two British alpinists trying to reach the top in “Alpine-style”. Highly recommended!

16th of April. Day 19 of our mountain adventure @home. We are in Antarctica today getting ready to start our journey towards the Vinson Massif (4892m) located a mere 1200 kilometres from the South Pole. Wish us luck! P.S. The hardest thing today was to keep all the ice from melting for long enough. It was 23°C outside.

17th of April. Day 20 of our mountain adventure @home. We are camping tonight in the forest just under one of my favourite alpine hikes around Chamonix – Grand Balcon Nord. It is dark and cold and sitting around the campfire late at night is the perfect excuse to tell a scary story. Let’s go:“11:55 …Almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00, just to keep us warm…”

18th of April. Day 21 of our mountain adventure @home. This morning we woke up and hiked the rest of the Grande Balcon Nord trail up to the Montenvers train station located just above Mer De Glace. We took the metal ladders and after a long walk over the glacier reached the base of the north face of the Grandes Jorasses – our target for today. Wish us luck!

19th of April. Day 22 of our mountain adventure @home. The unthinkable happened today – I managed to slip and fall while climbing. We are still in the Chamonix valley and our target today was Aiguille du Dru (3754m). I wasn’t being careful enough and you can see the result. Lily helped as much as she can. Don’t try this at home please, it is really painful 🙂

20th of April. Day 23 of our mountain adventure @home. Fun day today, skiing down la Vallée Blanche. Lily is very competitive 🙂

21st of April. Day 24 of our mountain adventure @home. We were going to hike to Lac Blanc today, but first decided to do a quick stop at Planpraz where Tanya was attending the yearly yoga festival. Being there, we couldn’t refuse to participate, so: Tanya is riding a bike in śīršāsana, Lily is chanting “ॐ” and I am doing whatever I can to make them happy (#fatheroftheyear#thehusbandshealwayswanted).

22nd of April. Day 25 of our mountain adventure @home. Short outing today and a fun climb on the Aiguille du Dru. Why fun? Lily, being a little monkey, insisted I cary her on my back instead of a backpack. So yeah! Disclaimer: Never, ever climb the bookshelves at home. It is very dangerous and will result in an injury. Unless you are a professional photographer 😉

23nd of April. Day 26 of our mountain adventure @home. A dream of mine became a reality today – we stood on the top of the world. Climbing Everest (8848m) is no small feet and Lily was absolutely the perfect climbing partner. We left Camp 4 at midnight and summited at 10:30. The weather was awful, wind and snow, low visibility. Our trusty helper Tanya Sherpa, took the photo just minutes before we started our way down. 

As far as we know Lily is the first 5 year old to fake climb Everest without supplemental oxygen, so we will be contacting the Guinness Book of Records later today. 

24th of April. Day 27 of our mountain adventure @home. We managed to sleep trough the day after our epic climb yesterday. So, here is a behind the scene photo of our expedition tent. It may be small, but is comfortable enough for me and what feels like a small octopus that sleeps next to me.

25th of April. Day 28 of our mountain adventure @home. We went bungee jumping today over the Bhotekoshi gorge in Nepal today. Contrary to what I taught, I couldn’t do it, but Lily went all in 🙂 

28th of April. Day 29 of our mountain adventure @home. We did a bit of a rock climbing today in the Dolomites with my favourite climbing buddy. Don’t ask Tanya how much time and acrobatics it took to do that photo 🙂

27th of April. Day 30 of our mountain adventure @home. Happy one month anniversary to us 🙂

When you are climbing in the mountains, knowing when to stop and turn back can literally be the difference between life and death. Turning back may sound easy, but imagine spending all that effort to go up and having to turn back just meters away from the top. To say that Lily was not happy is an understatement, but we were tired, the weather was bad and it was already quite late in the day. We will be back! 

28th of April. Day 31 of our mountain adventure @home. Lily’s photography skills are getting better and better, so today we decided to have some fun at home. And believe me, trying to jump with skis in the living room is much harder that on the slopes! In the end I did ok, Lily even better. 

29th of April. Day 32 of our mountain adventure @home. Climbing in the dark today, remembering a quote by Martin Luther King that applies quite well to the current situation we all live in: “Only in the darkness can you see the stars”. 

30th of April. Day 33 of our mountain adventure @home.

“They’re all gonna laugh at you. Nobody will believe.” This is what Lily said when I told her I will show the photo we took early this morning. We were camping high in the Himalayas when a loud noise woke us up and we looked outside. We saw something beyond explanation, so I leave this photo here, for you to interpret as you want. Believe what you want. I know what I saw. It saw Yeti.

1st of May. Day 34 of our mountain adventure @home. Lily insisted we go with her idea today, you know, climbing the highest peak around us and just jumping down. She promised to catch me if I fall. Simple 🙂 

We are seriously running out of furniture to climb around here.

2nd of May. Day 35 of our mountain adventure @home. How to make your DIY sled go faster according to science? Close your eyes and scream 🙂

3rd of May. Day 35 of our mountain adventure @home.

Am I getting older or after 36 days of constant training Lily is getting much better? She had to stop and wait for me on every step of the climb today. I am not complaining, getting older has its benefits for sure. One of them to decide for yourself how much chocolate you are allowed to eat at the end of the day 🙂 

4th of May. Day 36 of our mountain adventure @home.

After countless adventures, moving of furniture, jumping and falling, painting the walls, cleaning the mess, trying and failing just to find the ideal angle, we are finally together again 🙂 It felt nice and I decided it’s a good moment to stop. Thank you all who commented and supported us for the past month. It was a blast! And for those who asked that we print all of the photos in a book, I heard you 😉

If you like to buy the book look here: https://ivopopov.be/portfolio/book/

Until now the project has been published here:

Vanity Fair Italy (Italian)

Bored Panda (English)

Oudersvannu.nl (Dutch)

Inspiremore.com (English)

Auzimdebine.ro (Romanian)

Momichetata.com (Bulgarian)

TV Channel 24 Ukraine (Ukrainian)

Decathlon Belgium (Dutch / French)

https://m.blog.naver.com/benever/221982833926 (Korean)

LadyZone.bg (Bulgarian)

BTVnovinite.bg (Bulgarian)

Nova TV Bulgaria (Bulgarian)

You can contact me at: ivo.popov@gmail.com

Want to see more mountain / travel photos? Take a look at my travel photography website here: www.ivopopov.info

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