Zugspitze

Zugspitze, Wetterstein, Germany, klettersteig
Approaching the summit of Zugspitze via the Höllantal klettersteig climbing route, nearly 2,200m (7,200 ft) vertical above our start in the valley below.

At 2962m (9717 ft), Zugspitze is the tallest mountain in Germany. The white limestone massif of Wetterstein (of which Zugspitze is the summit) rockets out of the green hills below, towering above all surrounding peaks and dominating the landscape in this part of southern Bavaria near the towns of Garmish and Erwald. The mountain is reminiscent of the Dolomites in the way that its sheer walls soar vertically over the landscape, though the Wetterstein is perhaps even taller and larger than many of the Dolomite groups.

A month ago when Claudia and I summited Muttekopf peak in the nearby Lechtal Alps, we saw the impressive Wetterstein massif off in the distance and I immediately thought “What is that??!!”, followed soon after by the next thought “I want to go there!” We did, in fact, spend a few days then in the town of Ehrwald under the Zugspitze, but poor weather shut down any chance of climbing the mountain. So, last week we returned to the area and climbed to the summit via a fantastic klettersteig (cabled, aka via ferrata) route, and we even spent a night on the summit to catch a wonderful sunset over the clouds! Continue reading “Zugspitze”

Ferrata Trek in the Rosengarten

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon
Climbing along the ridgeline of Molignon during the Via Ferrata Laurenzi.

The Rosengarten is a group of mountains in the Dolomites with a dense cluster of exceptionally jagged peaks. 10 years ago I did two hikes through this range, and since then I’ve longed to return for some better photography and more challenging via ferrata climbing. Last week Claudia and I did just that, spending four days trekking, climbing, and photographing our way through the mountains. See lots more photos below! Continue reading “Ferrata Trek in the Rosengarten”

In the Dolomites

Dolomites, Italy, via ferrata, Cristallo
Ascending a ladder along the Cristallo via ferrata.

Last week Claudia’s father and brother drove down from Dresden to join us in the Dolomites in northern Italy for a fun week of hiking and climbing via ferrata routes together. The via ferrate are climbing routes with fixed cables and ladders, and by using a climbing harness with two short ropes with locking carabiners, it’s possible to safely climb exposed routes without technical climbing skills.

See lots more climbing shots from our week in the Dolomites below! Continue reading “In the Dolomites”

Lechtal Alps

Lechtal Alps, Austria, hiking, Gutelsee
Hiking above Gutelsee in the Lechtal Alps, Austria.

Our latest adventure in the Alps was an 8-day trek through the Lechtal Alps in Austria, the neighboring range just south of the Allgäuer Alps of our previous trek. In fact on many days of our trek we could look across the valley and see the peaks and ridges which we had just hiked and climbed over the previous week.

The Lechtal Alps are characterized by mountain ridges soaring steeply out of deeply cut valleys, topped with green basins ringed by countless jagged peaks. While the Allgäuer Alps seemed to offer mostly broad sweeping vistas, the Lechtal Alps have more immediate views of towering pyramidal peaks right in your face. The close and rugged peaks, combined with the clear air after some rains cleaned the haze away, made for some stunning photography! Continue reading “Lechtal Alps”

Strolling Around Prague

Charles Bridge in Prague
Portal from the Charles Bridge in Prague. The Vltava River flows underneath while rivers of tourists flow over it.

Here’s a mostly-random, not-at-all-comprehensive collection of pictures taken while wandering around the old city of Prague in the Czech Republic this week with Claudia, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend. Good times! Continue reading “Strolling Around Prague”

A Summer in Europe!

Frankfurt Train Station
Frankfurt Train Station

Earlier this week Claudia and I arrived in Germany! We are spending a few weeks in her hometown of Dresden visiting her family and friends and soaking in the ambience of this beautiful city.

But this is just the beginning of our journeys here; we have all summer long to spend trekking around in the Alps! Our plan is to not have a plan – which is the best way to travel. But we do have lots of ideas. The rough outline will be to head south to Bavaria and spend some time in the German Alps. From there we’ll continue into Austria, then possibly down into the Dolomites in Italy. We’ll be back in Dresden at the end of August, then back to the Alps again for September, maybe to the Mt. Blanc area?

Basically, we’re just going to wing it and travel as fast or slow as we feel like. Of course whatever we do will surely involve a lot of hut trekking and photography, with some fun via ferrata climbing here and there to spice things up. For the next three months we’ll be living out of two backpacks and a roller duffel bag, mostly utilizing the efficient train network here to get around.

In an effort to minimize my “eLife” during our travels I won’t be posting blow-by-blow photo trip reports of every trek, nor fully-processed landscape photos, but I will be posting snapshots and short journals from each adventure. So check back often to see what we’re up to!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Nostalgia

I am in the midst of the worst snowboarding season I’ve experienced in my snowboarding career. With the super sketchy avalanche conditions here in Colorado this winter, I haven’t been snowboarding much at all, and I can’t help but reminisce about better times on the snow! Below are a few photos of me snowboarding at Engelberg, Switzerland last winter, taken by my friends Kevin and Jonas.

Snowboarding Engelberg Switzerland

Snowboarding Engelberg Switzerland

Snowboarding Engelberg Switzerland

As you may know if you follow this blog, last winter I spent most of the season in Engelberg, Switzerland. It wasn’t exactly a big winter there either – at least statistically speaking. The season was characterized by occasional big storms followed by weeks of sun. At the time, I enjoyed exploring all kinds of new terrain in the spectacular Alps, but I was also thinking that, well, it just wasn’t that great of a winter. The thing is, when I was in the midst of it, during those weeks-long dry stretches I couldn’t help but think that way. I couldn’t help but think about how much better it could be, about how much more powder I could potentially have been riding on a more generous snow season.

Funny thing is, from my perspective a year later, looking back on my winter in Switzerland I can only remember it as nothing short of epic! This is a phenomenon I’ve experienced before, after other big trips. As time passes I forget about all the in-between downtimes, and all the highlights condense into what I can only recall as a fantastic series of experiences! Indeed, when I think about all the powder days and incredible descents I did score in the Alps last winter, it really does stand out in my mind as one of my most memorable winters.

I think it’s amazing how our memories do this – how they become refined over time, how the mundane stretches of time condense and settle into insignificance while the high points come together and grow in prominence in our minds. Yet I also wonder why it takes me a year or more to gain the perspective to see just how special those moments were as a whole. It’s a great thing to have memories that I can forever cherish and reflect upon, but it’s not good to only be able to truly appreciate those experiences through the rear view mirror. So, I think it’s important to strive for that perspective in the moment. Of course the highlights will be sweet while they’re happening, but it’s those in-between downtimes when I need to relax and see the bigger picture, instead of expecting everything to be awesome every single day and being disappointed when it’s not.

This last month and a half has been one big “in-between downtime” – not snowboarding much, not photographing much, not really getting outside much at all. But I’m not bothered by it. In fact I’m taking advantage of it. I’ve actually been having fun working on some big projects that I’ve had on the back burner for years; I wake up every morning eager to get back to work and get it all finished while I have this chance to focus. So while I know that this snowboarding season will be forgettable, I’m making the best of it in other ways. And in the meantime, I can still savor my memories of powder days past!

Panorama of Engelberg, Switzerland

LARGER VERSION here!

Panoramic view of Titlis and pretty much most of the terrain of Engelberg.

I look at this photo now and I recall so many sweet descents all throughout this incredible terrain. At left center where the radio tower is is the top of Titlis – it takes one gondola and two tram rides to ascend the 6,000 vertical feet to the top there. Below that is the Steinberg Glacier. At far left is the Laub, an incredible 3,000 vert slackcountry face. Behind that is Fürenalp, and way back behind there is the Surenen valley. In the center is Jochstock, with its great lines off either side. To the right of that, more great terrain.

You can see all my favorite ski and snowboard photos from my winter in Switzerland here.

Griessental Sunset Panorama

Griessental, sunset, Switzerland, alpenglow, panorama

Griessental Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

Sunset light illuminates the snow-filled valley of Griessental, February 2011.

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Here’s a photo from my archives, from February last winter in Switzerland. You can see more photos from this hike here.

Back home in “the Switzerland of America” this winter, I haven’t been getting out into the mountains as much as I’d like due to the sketchy avalanche conditions. On the bright side, I’ve been taking the opportunity to work on some projects that have been on the back burner for years. Among other things, I’m learning Adobe InDesign book publishing software and am excited to start creating some photo books. I might even have time to finally put together a screensaver app for sale on my website. So, stay tuned… I’ve got some good stuff in the pipe!

The Sandstone Mountains

Elbsandstein sandstone mountains near Dresden, Germany

Last week we were in Claudia’s hometown of Dresden, Germany, visiting her family there and seeing the sights of this beautiful city. One day Claudia’s father Gundolf and brother Ferdinand took us to the nearby Elbsandstein Mountains, aka the “Saxonian Switzerland”. I was surprised and impressed by these mountains, which are among the more unique mountains I’ve seen. Large sandstone towers jut out of the surrounding forests and hills like a surreal combination of Utah canyonlands and the Pacific Northwest. Gundolf led us on a fantastic day hike that wound through narrow gorges, foggy forests, high ridges, and also included several climbing routes and via ferrata scrambles along the way. Continue reading “The Sandstone Mountains”

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