Situated in the center of the San Miguel Range near Telluride, Colorado, Gladstone Peak (13,913 ft.) is overshadowed by its two popular neighboring fourteeners Wilson Peak and Mount Wilson. But Gladstone is an awesome peak with a dramatic pyramid shape, and in my opinion one of the more photogenic mountains of the San Juans.
With a clear and calm weather forecast and a rock solid snowpack from previous sub-freezing nights, I knew I had an opportunity for a high camp to photograph a portrait of Gladstone Peak. Donning my crampons, I headed over the pass by Wilson Peak then up a steep snowfield to a high ridge of Mount Wilson directly facing Gladstone from across a saddle. Read more >>
I’ve been enjoying all the spring green colors in the San Juans lately by getting out for a lot of day hikes and overnight backpacking trips in the Sneffels Range and Cimarrons near Ridgway here southwest Colorado. I’ve posted these and many more recent photos in a Spring in the San Juans gallery here.
This morning we got out for a [possibly] final ski/splitboard tour on the quickly melting snowpack. After what had been an amazing backcountry winter season here in the San Juans, April brought drought and pandemic, and I actually haven’t been out snowboarding since late March! So it felt amazing to make some carves again on soft spring corn snow today.
At the end of March the San Juan snowpack was at 100% average level, but April and May have been so hot and dry that the snowpack has dropped to only 25% of average for mid-May, and a mere 13% of what the snowpack was at this time after last year’s mega winter. In other words, last year there was 8 times the amount of now as right now! [See SNOTEL data chart here].
Check out this photo below of Claudia skiing in the same place as the photo above, in JUNE last year!
Hopefully we get some weather and rain in late May and June, otherwise it could be a parched and smoky summer.
It’s pretty rare to be able to camp up high in Colorado. In the summer the threat of thunderstorms above treeline is too terrifying, and in the winter it’s just too damn cold. But in mid-May I had a perfect window of opportunity to hike up and camp at 13,200 feet up on a high ridgeline here in the Sneffels Range of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. See all the photos here >>
Like many other landscape photographers grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions, I have resorted to browsing through my photo archives as I dream of outdoor adventures. During one such hard drive foray I found some old unstitched panorama images and thought I’d work on putting them together finally. This photo was from a 2015 photo mission when I stayed up here well into the night to photograph the Milky Way over Mount Sneffels.
I wish you health, safety, and sanity during these uncertain times.