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!


A Morning to Remember

I just processed some more panoramas from an epic morning in front of the mighty Fitz Roy in Argentine Patagonia back in December 2011. This was one of the most memorable photo experiences of my life; read about it in my trip report post here. Click on each one to view larger!

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Argentina, Patagonia, sunrise, panorama, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Fitz Roy Sunrise Panorama #1 : Prints Available
Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Argentina, Patagonia, sunrise, panorama, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Fitz Roy Sunrise Panorama #2 : Prints Available
Fitz Roy, El Chaltén, Argentina, Patagonia, sunrise, panorama, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Fitz Roy Sunrise Panorama #3 : Prints Available

You can see all my photos from the Fitz Roy range here.

New Gallery Design

Matterhorn, winter, moonlight, Zermatt, Switzerland
Matterhorn Moonlight B/W : Prints Available

Moonlight illuminates the Matterhorn as a winter storm clears. 

After a solid month and a half of development work, I’ve finally launched my new gallery website design! Check it out at www.MountainPhotography.com.

A few notable new features, aside from the new darker design, include the big full-page homepage slideshow and a reworked galleries page that showcases the first six photos of each gallery followed by a link to view them all. The website is also responsive, so the page layouts and images will expand and contract as necessary to fit a variety of screens ranging from cell phones to big screen monitors.

I’ve also reorganized and simplified the galleries. I’ve grouped the photos together into broader categories – still location-based, but more generalized and without so many divided sub-galleries. For example, instead of having separate Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana galleries, I’ve bunched all the photos into a single “Northern Rockies” gallery. Not only does this tactic reduce the amount of clicking around, it also frees me from the feeling that I need to populate all those separate location sub-galleries with “filler” photos.

Despite my best efforts to test the new website on a variety of devices, I’m sure there’s bound to be some issues I missed. So if you see something wonky please let me know! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new website, good or bad.

Mount of the Holy Cross

Mount of the Holy Cross, Sawatch Range, Colorado, Notch Mountain, October
Stormy Holy Cross : Prints Available

Mount of the Holy Cross, 14,005 feet, as seen from Notch Mountain – Holy Cross Wilderness, October 2003.

I just dug up this photo from deep in my archives while searching for a photo request of this mountain. I took this shot way back in October 2003, just over ten years ago! Back then I was in the early stages of being serious about photography. So much has happened in my life and my photography in the decade since then… It almost seems like it should have been 20 years ago, not just ten! It’s so amazing how much life you can fit into ten years. And it makes me wonder what’s in store for the next ten years…

Anyhow, Notch Mountain, in the Sawatch Range just south of Vail, Colorado, has a perfect front-and-center view of Mount of the Holy Cross and its east facing cross couloir, made famous in 1873 by legendary wilderness photographer William H. Jackson. In the early 20th century, the mountain became a destination of Christian pilgrimages, and a rock hut was built on Notch Mountain (very close to where this photo was taken) for shelter during Sunday mass at 13,000 feet. The hut is still there, and back in October ’03 my friend Todd and I backpacked up there and used it for shelter ourselves. This was a memorable trip, so I thought I’d write up a trip report, ten years later. Continue reading “Mount of the Holy Cross”

Ice Fest!

Ouray Ice Park climbers, Colorado

This weekend is the Ouray Ice Festival, with lots of ice climbers and fun stuff going on! I walked up and took this vertical panorama today; I look forward to seeing the competitions tomorrow!

And, here’s a nice video “Ice” presented by the Ouray Ice Park from Outside Adventure Media on Vimeo.

[vimeo clip_id="57924628" width="700" height="394"]

Happy New Year!

New Years in Mayrhofen, Austria

I’m a couple days late, but HAPPY NEW YEAR! The photo above is actually from New Years in Mayrhofen, Austria a couple years ago. This year we had a rockin’ time with friends out on the town here in Ouray. Nice fireworks here too, but I was in no shape to be handling a camera at the time!

Speaking of fireworks, one thing I noticed during my stay in Europe was the different nature of fireworks shows over there. Instead of the big “official” city fireworks shows that we have here in the US, in Europe I think it’s more common (or at least in the smaller cities) that everybody in town shoots off their own “medium” sized fireworks. So while the fireworks there weren’t individually as large, I’ve never seen SO MANY at once! Pretty cool.

Anyhow, I wish you all the best in 2013! I know I’m looking forward to an adventure-filled year!

12 from ’12

As 2012 comes to a close, I thought I’d take a look back and post my personal favorite photos from the year. 2012 was a momentous year in my life since Claudia and I got married in August! But photographically speaking it’s been a relatively quiet year, unlike 2011 when I spent more time in foreign countries than I spent in the US. This year Claudia and I were happy to mostly just be “home” in Colorado, though we did manage several big road trips to Montana and the deserts of California, Arizona, and Utah. (None of the desert photos made the cut here… they just can’t compete with the mountains!)

It’s insanely difficult to whittle down a year’s worth of photos to only 12; a list of 16 or 20 would have been much easier! But “12 for ’12” was my theme here so I had to do it. Without further ado, here’s my 12 favorite photos from 2012.

Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunrise, summit

Mt. Sneffels Summit Sunrise : Prints Available

Sunrise atop Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft.) – May.

solar eclipse, Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Solar Eclipse over the Sneffels Range : Prints Available

The peak of the May 2012 annular solar eclipse above Yankee Boy Basin.  Potosi Peak is on the right, with Mt. Sneffels behind.  At the bottom you can see the solar eclipse as refracted in the lens flare.

Great Sand Dunes, sunset, Colorado, fiery, Sangre de Cristo

Fiery Dunes Sunset : Prints Available

A fiery sunset over the Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre de Cristo mountains behind – June.

Pyramid Peak, Glacier National Park, Montana, sunrise, reflection, Glenns Lake

Pyramid Peak Sunrise : Prints Available

Sunrise reflection of Pyramid Peak, in Glenns Lake – July.

mountain goat, Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

Cracker Lake Dawn : Prints Available

A lone mountain goat surveys the scene at Cracker Lake at dawn – July.

Needle Mountains, Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunrise

Dark Sunrise in the Needles : Prints Available

A single beam of sunrise light illuminates the Needle Mountains on a stormy morning deep in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Vestal Peak, Arrow Peak, Grenadier Range, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunrise, reflection

Grenadier Sunrise Reflection #2 : Prints Available

Reflection of Vestal Peak and Arrow Peak of the Grenadier Range during a fiery sunrise.

Aspens, fog, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, september

Aspen in the Fog : Prints Available

Aspen forest in the fog – September.

Dolores Peak, Telluride, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, aspens, September, Fall Creek

Fall Creek Sunrise : Prints Available

A stormy sunrise above Dolores Peak and the vast aspen groves of the Fall Creek valley near Telluride, Colorado – September.

Chimney Rock, Courthouse Mountain, Cimarrons, Ridgway, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunset

Chimney Rock Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset light on Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain in the Cimarron Range near Ridgway, Colorado – September.

Cimarrons, Ridgway, Pleasant Valley, Sneffels Range, Chimney Rock, Courthouse Mountain, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunset, panorama

Cimarron Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

The Cimarrons lit up by a spectacular sunset over Ridgway and Pleasant Valley, with the Sneffels Range in the background.  Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain are the prominent peaks near the center.  The West Fork Cimarron valley is at left. 

Ice Lakes, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, October, icy, ice, dawn

Ice Lakes Icy Dawn : Prints Available

Dawn light in Ice Lakes Basin on a chilly October morning after the second snowfall of the season.

I wish you all the best in 2013!

Chasing Ice

[vimeo clip_id="48966552" width="700" height="393"]

Chasing Ice Trailer from milkhaus on Vimeo.

To celebrate the Mayan apocalypse in proper fashion, last night we went to see Chasing Ice, the new documentary movie about acclaimed photographer James Balog and his monumental efforts to document the receding glaciers of Greenland and Alaska.

Anybody with their head out of the sand can clearly understand that our planet is in turmoil; nevertheless, it is still utterly shocking and sobering to actually SEE through Balog’s cameras and time-lapses how rapidly these enormous glaciers and ice sheets are melting away. We are witnessing a planetary transformation of stunning speed and scale, and it’s difficult to imagine “smooth sailing” for our civilization in the coming decades. How many wake-up-calls do we need as a society to realize that we need to get our sh-t together and move forward with more sustainable energy policies?!

I encourage you to go see this movie as soon as possible. Go SEE how our Earth is transforming while we all go about business as usual. Go SEE for yourself.

Norwegian Leftovers

Since I’m lacking any new recent photos to share, I dug into the “vault” and found a few unreleased photos from my 2009 trip to Norway to share. The first two are new drum scans from my stack of 4×5 film.

Otertind, Norway, reflection

Otertind Reflection : Prints Available

Otertind reflects in a calm river.

Above is the beautiful mountain of Otertind, in northern Norway, reflected in a calm river on a gorgeous blue sky morning. Otertind’s striking profile is actually more attractive from a more distant perspective.

Hermannsdalstinden, summit, Lofoten Islands, Moskenesøya, Norway

Hermannsdalstinden Summit : Prints Available

A rugged view over the Lofoten Islands, as seen from the summit of Hermannsdalstinden (1029m), the tallest mountain on Moskenesøya Island.

The scrambly climb up Hermannsdalstinden in the Lofoten Islands was one of the most challenging and fun hikes I did during my six weeks in Norway, and the view from the top remains one of the most rugged mountain vistas I’ve witnessed to date. This view here is only one slice of the incredible 360º panorama encompassing granite peaks, deep fjords, alpine lakes, and of course the endless ocean beyond.

Moskenesøya, Lofoten, Kjerkfjorden, Norway, Vindstad

Vindstad Peaks : Prints Available

This 732m peak on Moskenesøya Island looks like a Norwegian version of Half Dome in Yosemite.  Kjerkfjorden and the little settlement of Vindstad are below the clouds. 

Just phenomenal scenery over there in Norway! I hope to return someday.