Mt. Ridgway

Weehawken Basin, Colorado

This morning Parker, Lily, and I went for a hike up into Weehawken Basin, out of Ouray, Colorado. It felt great to get up into the lush, green, forested mountains of the San Juans again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there may be bigger, taller, and more impressive mountains than in Colorado, but nowhere do I know of a paradise like here! In a couple weeks I’d imagine that this scene will be plump full of wildflowers.

Weehawken tundra

Upon reaching the gorgeous Weehawken basin, we felt energized and ready for more hiking, so we decided to go ahead and climb a peak. We headed up the tundra grass towards Mt. Ridgway.

Potosi Peak

Lily scouts the view, with Potosi Peak (13,786 ft.) behind. By the way, that big couloir on Potosi is #1 on my snowboard descent wish list.

Dog on summit

Lily stands on the summit of Mt. Ridgway (13,468 ft.)

summit flowers

There was a plethora of these purple wildflowers on the rocky summit.

It’s good to be back home finally.

Crazy Flight

aerial photo of Mission Bay

I made a quick trip out to San Diego this weekend for an old buddy’s wedding. Being springtime there, everything was green and vibrant and flowering, and my last day there was a gorgeous crystal clear day that made my heart ache for my hometown. I don’t have any photos to show for it, except this snapshot of Mission Beach and Mission Bay from the airplane window.

lightning and airplane wing

The weather in Colorado, on the other hand, was up to its usual antics. After being held in a holding pattern over the Front Range for a half hour, we finally started our descent into Denver right under the roof of a dark, ominous thunderhead. As we approached the airport the plane was getting tossed around so badly that the pilot gunned it out of there and we flew another holding pattern for about an hour, circling around the thunderhead and watching the purple lightning bolts flashing through the cloud and zapping the runway. No bueno. My photos unfortunately do not do justice to the scene, but regardless, this is something you normally don’t want to be seeing out of an airplane window.

dia Crazy

The thunderhead finally moved away from the runway just far enough for the pilot to make a successful landing, but once we were safely on the runway the entire airport spontaneously combusted into flames – or was that just the trippy refractions of light in raindrops? Perhaps the latter. We then had to wait for another half hour on the runway since the entire ground crew staff had been ordered inside due to the lightning danger, and when we finally got into the airport it was a frantic mess of delayed flights and people running for their connections. Good fun!

I finally made it back to the Montrose airport at 1:30am, only to be almost immediately pulled over and ticketed for doing 50 in a 30 mph zone. Sweet! I swear it was 45 in a 35, but what can you do?

And next on tap: a roadtrip to the Northwest tomorrow for 10 days to hopefully snowboard down some volcanos! My recent life philosophy in tough economic times: when work is slow, play fast! (But don’t drive too fast!) I have a laptop now so perhaps I’ll post some pics during the trip.

In other news, I just realized (after two months) that in addition to the article that Cowboys & Indians magazine published about me and my photography in their March 2010 issue, they also published a web-exclusive interview on their website. Check it out: Jack Brauer: behind the lens.

Snow Peak

Snow Peak, Gore Range, Colorado

I just dug this photo from the dusty depths of my hard drive. I took this sunset shot of Snow Peak (13,024 ft.) way back in March 2004. I was living in Denver at the time, and took advantage of an unseasonably warm spell in March to go winter camping up on this high ridge in the Gore Range, just east of Vail.

One of the great things about the Gore Range is that on the west side of the range there are numerous high points and ridges that are relatively safely accessible in the winter, offering awesome panoramic views of the main spine of the range. Better yet, the west side of the range gets great sunset alpenglow light since there are no large ranges directly to the west. From a photography point of view, sunset shooting is always a bit easier since you don’t have to wake up early, and you can spend the afternoon casually scoping out photo possibilities. On this evening, I had a really fun photo shoot; there were so many photo possibilities in every direction, and the wind-sculpted sastrugi snow formations on the ridge provided lots of interesting foreground possibilities. You can see some more photos from this evening here, here, and here.

Vacation Back Home

This last week I took a vacation from Jackson to go home to Ouray, see some friends, and help track up the three feet of fresh snow there! I went splitboarding on the same mountain for four days in a row, riding different untracked lines each day. It felt great to be back in the San Juans for a little while… I love those mountains. Here’s a few skiing and snowboarding shots from the trip.

snowboarding an untracked couloir
Mike Bryson carves into a beautiful untracked chute.

backcountry skiing colorado
Matt Wade skis the pow.

backcountry skiing in the San Juans
Tom Kelly skis a line next to the trees. Notice the tantalizing, but insanely dangerous, San Juan terrain in the background!

skiing powder
Jay Godson enjoying the freshies.

San Juan skiing panorama
Skinning up the ridge of my favorite mountain. That big crossloaded face in the center was virtually off-limits to sane people due to the avy danger; however, if you want to see a headcam video of me hauling ass down that face last year in more stable powder conditions, see here (the second descent in the video).

skiing powder in the San Juans
Tom Kelly slashes the powder.

Massive Sunset

Mt. Massive as seen from Mount Elbert summit, Colorado

I just unearthed this photo taken back in February 2006. This is the view of Mt. Massive (center) and the Sawatch Range, as seen from the 14,440 foot summit of Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado.

I had hiked up Mount Elbert in the afternoon, knowing that the clear skies and full moon would provide plenty of light to make my way down at night. The evening turned out to be one of my most memorable summit experiences ever; the air was perfectly calm, I had warm clothes on, and I spent over three peaceful hours relaxing on the summit in the twilight and moonlight. During my time up there I also took what is perhaps my favorite photo to date, “Elbert’s Moonshadow”.

Both photos were taken with the 4×5 camera, with Provia film.

Star Trails over Denver

Star Trails over Denver

This was an early experiment with the 4×5 camera, taken back in January 2006 in the foothills above Boulder. I first exposed the film for a few minutes to record the city lights, then I covered up the bottom portion of the frame using a thin piece of cardboard cut to fit in my cokin filter holder. With the camera in the same position and the city lights blocked out to prevent overexposure, I left the lens open for several hours to capture the star trails.

It’s hard to see at web resolution, but on the center horizon are a bunch of light trails from airplanes taking off from Denver International Airport.