First Turns of Winter

Frosty Aspens

Last night I pulled my splitboard out of the attic in anticipation of the first turns of winter. As we drove up the pass this morning everything was covered in frosty snow… what a glorious morning! I had to pull over and take a snapshot of the frosty aspens.

Hiking Up in the Snow

The snowpack looking a bit dubious on this southern slope on the way up.

First Turns of the Winter

Fortunately the north facing slopes were filled in with powder and looking good! Here’s Jeff getting in the groove. We just did one line but damn it was satisfying! I’m hoping for a good winter this season here in the San Juans after the last two crappy ones…

Winter Camping at Blue Lakes

Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, winter, camp, tent, snowy

Hungry for an adventure, on Tuesday I hiked up to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Range to camp out in the snow. Late autumn can be a good time for winter camping – kind of like “diet” winter camping since there’s less snow to deal with and usually less avalanche danger (*depending, of course). Also, road access to most trailheads is still possible, and if you time it right the alpine lakes aren’t frozen yet which can offer some nice photo opportunities.

The weather forecast called for a brief but intense snowstorm, with little or no wind! Perfect time to head out into the mountains. Sure enough, in the late afternoon just as I was setting up the tent the storm clouds rolled into the mountains and it started snowing in earnest. I fell asleep to the sound of snowflakes falling on the tent, cozy in my puffy down cocoon. In the middle of the night, around 2:30am, I woke up and saw moonlight shining on the tent. I poked my head out and saw a dreamlike scene as the storm clouds were lifting off the peaks and the fresh snow glistened in the moonlight. Of course I jumped out of the tent as fast as I could to photograph the moment!

Blue Lakes, Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, winter, camp, tent, snow, moonlight
Blue Lakes Winter Moonlight : Prints Available

Winter camp in the snow above lower Blue Lake – October.

Though the clouds still covered the peaks in the morning, eventually they gave way to crystal clear blue skies.

Blue Lakes, Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, winter, panorama, snowy
Blue Lakes Winter Panorama : Prints Available

Lower Blue Lake surrounded by snowy peaks – October.

winter tent
A room with a view.

Compared to summer backpacking when you can lay in the meadows and let yourself melt into the scenery, winter camping feels more like being an astronaut. It’s clear that you don’t belong there, and your survival is dependent on the gear you’ve brought with you. Everything is more difficult in the cold and snow – getting water and keeping it from freezing, cooking, keeping your stuff dry, putting your boots on, even just moving around! Add to that a lingering apprehension that if one little thing should go wrong your survival (or at least basic comfort) could be in jeopardy. For those reasons, winter camping is more about the challenge of being out there rather than the pleasure of being out there!

One night in the snow proved to be enough adventure for me and by the second afternoon the thoughts of Claudia and our warm house proved irresistible so I packed up and hiked out. I think it’s time to flee to the desert to find some warmer adventures!

A Few More Photos from the Pyrenees

Pic du Midi d'Ossau. Lac Gentau, Refuge d'Ayous, Pyrenees, France
Lac Gentau Reflection : Prints Available

Dusk reflection of Pic du Midi d’Ossau in Lac Gentau near the Refuge d’Ayous in the Pyrenees – September.

I have just updated my trip report from our trek in the Pyrenees with newly processed photos. This was our final trek of our European travels this last summer, and thus the last new photos I have to post from Europe.

Our trek through the Pyrenees was cut short by an unfortunate injury, and so I hope to return someday to see many parts of the range that we missed. And concerning the Alps and Europe in general, there are so many mountains there to see I feel like we only scratched the surface during our two months of trekking there. We could spend many many summers there before really getting a solid grasp on that mighty mountain range, and hopefully we’ll get the chance to do so in the future.

More Zugspitze Photos

Here’s a few photos of sunset and sunrise from our night atop the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. See the complete trip report here, including photos from the 7,000+ vertical foot hike and klettersteig climb of the Höllental route.

Zugspitze, Wettersteingebirge, Germany, summit, sunset
Zugspitze Summit Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset light as seen from the summit of Zugspitze (2962m).

Zugspitze, Wettersteingebirge, Germany, sunset, clouds
Zugspitze Above the Clouds : Prints Available

Sunset light on a rugged ridge of Zugspitze, high above the clouds.

Zugspitze, Wettersteingebirge, Germany, sunrise, summit
Zugspitze Summit Sunrise : Prints Available

Sunrise on the top of Zugspitze (2962m), the highest mountain in Germany.

The Vajolet Towers

Dolomites, Italy, Vajolet, Torri del Vajolet, Rosengarten, sunset
Vajolet Towers Sunset : Prints Available

Brilliant sunset light illuminates the Vajolet Towers in the Rosengarten as misty clouds swirl off the peaks.

Here’s “The Shot” I spoke about from the magical sunset we witnessed during our trek through the Rosengarten in the Dolomites in Italy back in August. It was such a sublime moment – truly one the most memorable and spectacular events I’ve witnessed in nature. If this photo conveys just a fraction of the true life experience, then I’m happy with it!

By the way, I’ve updated the original Rosengarten trip report, including this and other new photos. Check it out.

Photos from the Sesto/Sextener Dolomites

I’ve just posted some new landscape photos taken during the first half of our time in the Dolomites this summer, near Sexten and Cortina mainly around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, an impressive cluster of vertical peaks that look like rock knives thrust up from inside the earth. Despite my best efforts, the rainy overcast weather during that week offered precious few photo opportunities. Nevertheless, I did manage to grab a couple nice photos before and after the storm! See the full updated trip report here.

Dolomites, Italy, Tre Cime, Lavaredo, Drei Zinnen
Tre Cime Dawn : Prints Available

Dawn glow illuminates Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen (2998m).

Dolomites, Italy
Tre Cime B/W : Prints Available

Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen (2998m).

Tre Cime, Lavaredo, Drei Zinnen, enrosadira, Dolomites, Italy, reflection
Enrosadira Reflection : Prints Available

Brilliant enrosadira sunset light on Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen (2998m) reflected in a small lake.

Dolomites, Italy, Misurina
Evening Above Misurina : Prints Available

Dusk light over the Dolomites as seen from the base of Tre Cime, far over the village of Misurina.

Ouray Oktoberfest Fireworks

Oktoberfest, Ouray, Colorado, fireworks

Happy 4th of July, I mean, Oktoberfest! Just like last year, Ouray had leftover fireworks since the 4th of July show was cancelled due to fire danger, so they shot them off for the Oktoberfest party instead.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no place like Ouray to watch (or listen to) fireworks! The booming echoes that reverberate around the mountain walls are incomparable.

Compare this photo with my shot of the fireworks last year, taken from the same perspective but much, much higher up!

Autumn Colors in Ouray

San Juan Mountains, Colorado, autumn, aspens, United States Mountain, Camp Bird, Ouray
Camp Bird Aspens : Prints Available

Colorful autumn aspens along Camp Bird Road near Ouray, with United States Mountain in the background.

Here’s a few photos from a quick drive and hike up Camp Bird Road above Ouray yesterday. So beautiful around here lately…

San Juan Mountains, Colorado, autumn, aspens
Snow and Aspens : Prints Available

Colorful autumn aspens and a fresh October snowfall.

Photos from the Lechtal Alps

I’ve just posted my landscape photos from our 8-day trek through the Lechtal Alps in Austria in July. Overall this might have been my favorite trek of the summer! Check out the full trip report, along with more new photos, here.

Lechtal Alps, Austria. Kaiserjochhaus, Grießkopf, sunset
Kaiserjochhaus Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset light on Grießkopf (2581m) as seen from near the Kaiserjochhaus hut.

Lechtal Alps, Austria, Memminger Hütte, sunset
Memminger Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset at the Memminger Hütte.

Lechtal Alps, Austria, Dremelspitze, Hanauer Hütte, sunset, reflection
Dremelspitze Reflection : Prints Available

Brilliant sunset light illuminates Dremelspitze (2733m), as seen from above the Hanauer Hütte.

See more new photos and the complete trip report from the Lectal Alps.

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