2013 in a Nutshell

Ouray, San Juan mountains, Colorado, winter, panorama, dawn, february, lights
Ouray Winter Dawn Panorama : Prints Available

The lights of Main Street after a fresh snowfall in Ouray, Colorado on a clear February morning in the San Juan Mountains. The mountains to the right are illuminated by the setting moon.

As we start a new year, here’s a look back at my most memorable photos and adventures of 2013.

Powder, ski, San Juan Mountains, backcountry, Colorado
February Powder

Dan Chehayl skis deep powder in the San Juan backcountry.

The winter of 2013 ended up being a second disappointing winter season in a row here in the San Juans, with below average snowfall and above average avalanche danger. However, the month of February was an exception, bringing lots of powder with decent-enough stability to ride it.

yurt, stars, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, winter, march, night, snow
Yurt Under the Stars : Prints Available

A cozy backcountry yurt in the snow on a winter night in March – San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

In March Claudia and I went on a couple great backcountry ski trips – one to a friend’s yurt in the San Juans, and another trip in late March to a couple ski huts in the southern Gore Range. Claudia did her first good tree skiing on this trip; it’s been a joy to watch her powder skiing skills progress!

Parsons Landing, campfire, Catalina Island, California
Parsons Landing Campfire

Enjoying the warmth of a campfire on the beach at Parsons Landing – April.

In April we went on a road trip out to California to visit my grandma for her 100th birthday! We continued on to trek the 45-mile Trans Catalina Trail across the entire Catalina Island – a place I loved visiting with my family when I was growing up, and which I was excited to show Claudia. It was quite a novelty for us to backpack on an island and camp on beaches!

slot canyon, Zebra, Escalante National Monument, Utah
Zebra Slot : Prints Available

The famous Zebra Slot – not very deep or long, but one of the most photogenic slot canyons in Utah.

On the way back we spent a long week in the canyons of Utah, mainly in the Escalante and Capitol Reef regions, doing great day hikes every day and camping in our new truck each night. (The month before, I managed to roll our old truck off an icy road – fortunately we weren’t hurt at all, though the truck was totaled).

Owl Creek Canyon, Cedar Mesa, Utah, camping, stars, canyon
Canyon Camping : Prints Available

Camping under the stars in Owl Creek Canyon, Utah.

We returned to Utah in May for a wonderful backpack trip through Fish and Owl Creek canyons in Cedar Mesa.

Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunset, alpenglow
Alpenglow on Mt. Sneffels : Prints Available

Sunset light illuminates the 14,150 ft. summit of Mt. Sneffels, as seen from a high ridgeline in June, San Juan Mountains.

By June the meager snowpack in the San Juans had pretty much already melted out, enabling us to go on a number of high alpine backpacking trips a month earlier than usual (and also enabling huge wildfires to burn much of the southeastern San Juans). We camped up on a high ridge of Mt. Sneffels; summited Whitehouse Mountain, an obscure peak high above Ouray; and climbed Wetterhorn Peak from Wetterhorn Basin.

Allgäuer Alps, Germany, hiking
Mindelheimer Klettersteig Trail

Allgäuer Alps, Germany.

After much preparation and anticipation, in July we flew to Europe for 3 months of vacation. After visiting Claudia’s family in Dresden for a couple weeks, we rode the train down to Oberstdorf in southern Germany and went on an amazing hut trek through the Allgäuer Alps with her friends Susanne and Dominik.

Rappensee, Allgäuer Alps, Germany, wildflowers, sunset, Kleiner Rappenkopf, reflection
Rappensee : Prints Available

Wildflowers and a pleasant sunset at Rappensee, with a reflection of the Kleiner Rappenkopf (2276m). Allgäuer Alps, Germany.

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.

Our next big trek was through the fantastic Lechtal Alps just across the border in Austria. By now I was really enjoying the lightweight hut-to-hut trekking style that is so readily available in the Alps.

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

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

In August we met up with Claudia’s father and brother for a fun-filled week of via ferrata climbing in the spectacular Dolomites in Italy.

Dolomites, Italy, via ferrata, Salvezza, Strada degli Alpini
Salvezza Chasm : Prints Available
Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon
Laurenzi : Prints Available

Climbing along the ridgeline of Molignon during the Via Ferrata Laurenzi.

Claudia and I spent another week in the Dolomites, trekking through the Rosengarten range with some really challenging via ferrata climbing routes mixed in.

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.

Zugspitze, Wetterstein, Germany, klettersteig
Looking Down Zugspitze

After leaving the Dolomites, we went back to Bavaria to climb Zugspitze, the tallest peak in Germany. We took the classic Höllental route, which gains over 7,200 vertical feet, much of which is a long sustained via ferrata (or klettersteig in German) cabled climbing route.

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

Sunset light as seen from the summit Zugspitze (2962m), the highest mountain in Germany.

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, France – September.

Our final adventure in Europe was a September trek through the Pyrenees along the border of France and Spain. We intended to hike from hut to hut for three weeks in this range; however, unfortunately after one week Claudia took a scary tumble and broke her sternum, earning us a helicopter ride out and a couple nights in a French hospital. We had big plans to spend the months of October and November trekking in the Himalaya in Nepal, but with Claudia’s injury there was no question that we had to cancel that part of the trip. Although it was a disappointing setback, it’s all good… we hope to go there this next year instead, and I’m just extremely grateful that Claudia is ok (she’s totally healed now).

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, Sneffels Range, Colorado – October.

Back home in southwest Colorado, we have been treated with abundant early season snow, and this winter has already been far superior to the previous two!

skiing, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Bluebird Pow Pow

Skier: Chris Cover

For 2014, I’m hoping that it snows nonstop until May and look forward to lots more splitboarding action, ski hut trips, and probably some winter camping at some point. In the spring I’m sure we’ll get out to the Utah desert for some backpacking and car camping road tripping. For this next summer we are excited that Claudia’s father and family are coming to visit us here, and we’ve also been talking about backpacking in the Cascades in Washington and the Wind Rivers in Wyoming… maybe even work our way up into Canada… who knows… As usual, I’m always dreaming and I want to do it all! In the autumn we are hoping to finally get over to the Himalaya to trek the routes we had planned on doing this last year. 2014 promises to be as adventurous as 2013, maybe even more so!

Finally, I want to give a warm THANK YOU to everybody who reads my blog and who has supported my habits by purchasing my prints and licensing my photos. I truly appreciate it!


8 thoughts on “2013 in a Nutshell

  1. Stunningly gorgeous pics – each better than the others. Thank so much for posting. If I ever am a person with dollars, I will purchase the hell out of your prints.

  2. Another year of stunning shots Jack, your pictures always blow me away. I have recently got my own blog started (www.daveolinski.com) and this year I intend to put some time and effort into my photography thanks in no small part to the inspiration I get from your images.
    Thanks and keep up the amazing work.

  3. Jack,

    Happy New Year! Just a question about the via ferrata routes. In your opinion what is the best way to get started with these? Is it necessary to go on a course, perhaps go in a paid group for the first expedition or is it something you can start yourself with the easy routes and move on from there?

    Your articles this year have peaked my interest!

    Thank you for your writing and well done for taking some fine photographs.



    1. Hi Jason, the via ferrate are actually quite easy to learn – the concept is very basic so you don’t really need any guiding. The best bet is to get some guidebooks such as the excellent ones about via ferrate in the Dolomites published by Cicerone. These books describe the gear you need, and they rate the routes from easy to difficult so you can choose easy routes first to build your confidence. The books also explain how to do it – again, very simple stuff.

      It might be difficult to find the proper via ferrata gear in the states, but in Italy and Europe it’s readily available.

      Have fun!

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