UK Mountain Photo of the Year



by Chloe Hawkins |
Updated on

To capture a mountain moment that stands out above the rest is something special. The winning shot in our annual mountain photography competition of a winter climber on Ben Nevis captures more than just a moment – you can feel the cold and sense the danger oozing from the image.

Trail’s 2021 Mountain Photo of the Year competition has, in terms of overall quality, been the strongest since it was first launched seven years ago. But there can only be one winner. This year’s title goes to Joseph Hill, a 36-year-old paramedic for the North West Ambulance Service in Cumbria, whose epic winter shot from the north face of Ben Nevis was a big hit with our panel of expert judges. You also voted in your thousands in our online public vote at to finalize the top three photographers, who all win a prize bundle of goodies from our partners at Fujifilm, Affinity Photo and Zerofit. One of the things that stood out about Joseph’s winning image – on top of key photographic elements like composure and light – was the levels of physical effort and skill required to reach that specific location in those specific conditions .“The weather on Ben Nevis that day was very mixed,” says Joseph. “Cold with frequent heavy snow flurries and strong winds. But every now and then the sun would make an appearance and I’d feel like I was in the French Alps. “There had been significant snowfall overnight, resulting in very poor climbing conditions on certain aspects of the mountain. Due to the risk of avalanche and generally poor conditions we decided to abandon our original climbing plans and instead head out for a bit of fun in the snow and some photography.

“It turned out to be a good decision, as it was only two days after I took this image that three climbers were very sadly killed and a fourth injured in Number Five Gully, which is out of frame, but on the right-hand side of my image. “We had climbed West Gully and were about to descend via East Gully, known as the Douglas Traverse, and I was exploring for image options. I was standing just above the Douglas Gap, behind the Douglas boulder on Tower Ridge, when I saw the opportunity for this image. My friend Murray was very accommodating and had agreed to be my model for the day once I’d promised him some beer and the possibility of a photo worthy of going on his wall. I managed to secure myself just in time for the clouds to part and the light to hit the mountains in the background. A few moments later the light had gone and it was back to heavy snow, but I knew I’d captured a special moment of Scottish winter mountaineering at its finest. “When I look at this image it inspires feelings of excitement and adventure but it also makes me feel a great sense of appreciation for what I have, and a reverence for the dangers of mountain sport.” Joseph is a keen winter mountaineer and fell runner, who originally started taking photos to document his adventures. “It’s since progressed to a hobby of its own. I enjoy the stress relief of the outdoors, and photography amplifies that for me. I get drawn into the process of capturing an image, especially in the mountains, as it helps me to switch off and really re-energizes me.”


Joseph Hill
Douglas Traverse, Ben Nevis


Nadir Khan, adventure photographer “A great capture, well composed and edited. You can really feel this image, the bite of the cold and the wind, as well as the thrill of being in such a stunning situation.”

Chris Upton, Fujifilm ambassador “Wow! Light, composition and emotion, it has it all. An amazing image with great impact capturing the beauty and drama of the mountains. Excellent composition, keeping the climber fairly small in the frame gives a sense of scale and heightens the feeling of exposure and danger.”

Tom Bailey, Trail photographer “It lets me know what it would feel like to be in such a mountain situation; scared, awed, cold, but more than anything else buzzing.”

JOSEPH WINS: Fujifilm X-T4 camera + XF18-55mm lens, Affinity Photo software, Zerofit base layers, leggings and hoodie - Worth £2263


We thought we’d seen all the great pictures of one of Scotland’s most photographed locations, but this 2nd place image proved us wrong!

Alex Trowski
Glencoe, Hghlands

“This image was taken in Glen Coe looking towards Buachaille Etive Beag – the big mountain in shot,” says Alex Trowski. “Looking at the image takes me back to that moment, although it was hectic having to run around this small lochan to be there just in time. It makes me feel lucky to have witnessed such a beautiful moment and even more so for being able to capture it. The rainbow was so big that I had to look up into the sky above to see it all! My widest lens couldn’t get it all in, so I had to take five vertical photos to make a wide panoramic photo. Just as I finished the last photo the rainbow faded away.” Alex has enjoyed being outdoors since he 18, walking and camping in the mountains and glens around Scotland. Ten years ago he bought his first camera and spent most of his time exploring and photographing the west coast of Scotland, where he lives. He now works semi-professionally as a photographer, teaching workshops and guiding people in the Highlands. Instagram @alextrowskiphotography


Nimsdai Purja, record-breaking mountaineer “This is a great shot and very technical, because of the way the photographer has captured the rainbow – for this you need a lot of patience and it’s time-consuming.”

Chris Upton, Fujifilm ambassador “Incredible light, what a rainbow! The stormy blue sky contrasts with the golden mountains. The photographer may have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for this shot, but I think you make your own luck and the photographer was ready to take advantage of the conditions, capturing the scene very well. The still water, reflection and light on the reeds added foreground interest and completed the scene.”

ALEX WINS: Fujifilm X-S10 camera + XF18-55mm lensAffinity Photo softwareZerofit base layers, leggings and hoodie - Worth £1568

3rd Place Rachel Roberts

This shot captures an incredible moment at dawn, just before Tryfan and the tiny figure on the foreground ridge were swallowed up by an ocean of cloud.

Tryfan, Snowdonia

"The photo overlooking Tryfan was taken from Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia at sunrise,” says Rachel Roberts. “For me the photograph captures the pure joy and solace I felt at that moment. The conditions were near-perfect, and it was the first time I’d been back in the mountains after lockdown. To me it’s the perfect place to escape the world below. It serves as a nice reminder of how much I value my freedom.” Rachel is slowly ticking off every mountain in Wales. She works as head of customer relations for a car manufacturer and is a web developer in her spare time. She classes herself as an amateur photographer and never sets out with a scene in mind to capture, she just enjoys shooting while she hikes and looking forward to seeing what shots she ends up with.


Louise Parker, Trail art editor “You can feel the cloud pouring over and enveloping Tryfan. I’m not sure if Rachel was aware of the tiny figure on the ridge in the foreground, but luck or planning heightens the sense of scale. The effort of getting up there for sunrise certainly paid off.”

Louis Manning, Trail reader “Best picture of Tryfan I’ve ever seen. Excellent.” Rachel’s photo gained 3rd place with the help of 1083 public votes in our UK Mountain Photo of the Year poll at

RACHEL WINS... Fujifilm X-T30 camera + XF18-55mm lens, Affinity Photo softwareZerofit base layers and hoodie - Worth £1373

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