Whitehouse Mountain

wildflowers, spreading globeflower, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, June
Globeflowers : Prints Available

On Friday Claudia and I went backpacking to a lesser-known basin in the Sneffels Range.

wildflowers, spreading globeflower, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, June
Globeflowers #2 : Prints Available

Summer is in full swing in the mountains! Except for a few lingering patches, most of the snow is gone and the tundra has come alive with its vibrant green grasses and early summer wildflowers like these Spreading Globeflowers (I think that’s what they are called).

Potosi Peak, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, June, sunrise
Potosi Peak Sunrise : Prints Available

Sunrise light on Potosi Peak (13,786 ft.) – June.

We woke up at 3:30am to hike up to a high saddle from where I shot the sunrise light on Potosi Peak, one of the giants of the range. (For reference on how little snow we have this year, check out the photos from skiing/snowboarding down Potosi’s north couloir in June a couple years ago).

Potosi Peak, Whitehouse Mountain, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, June, hiking
Hiking on Whitehouse Mountain with a view of Potosi Peak (13,786 ft.) – June.

Our goal for Saturday was to hike up Whitehouse Mountain, a seldom-climbed mountain on the northern end of the Sneffels Range. Continue reading “Whitehouse Mountain”

An Evening with Sneffels

Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, spring, June, green, CR7

On Saturday we ventured into the Sneffels Range for a quick overnighter backpack trip. Summer is in gear, and the aspens have their freshly sprung brilliant green color. We were surprised at how much snow has already melted away up high, and how green the tundra has already become! Though we brought crampons and gaiters with us, we never even needed to use them.

camping, Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, June, sunset

Taking advantage of a clear weather forecast, we camped all the way up at 12,900 feet on a high sub-peak of Sneffels. It’s a rare treat in Colorado to be able to camp up high like this without fear of thunderstorms! We brought the winter tent in case it was windy, and hauled up extra water in a dromedary bag.

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.

Of course, the main reason I wanted to camp up so high was for the killer view of Mt. Sneffels! I’ve shot sunset from this high point once before, five years back, but I was excited to come back and actually spend a night up here.

Continue reading “An Evening with Sneffels”

Yurt Weekend

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 the San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Some friends of ours kindly offered us their backcountry yurt for the weekend, and we gladly accepted! Situated atop a hill above Red Mountain Pass and surrounded by heaps of intermediate ski terrain, the yurt provided a perfect base for two nights and three days of relaxing and skiing.

Skinning Up

Claudia skins up the mountain…

Backcountry skiing

…to enjoy some cruisey powder turns.

yurt, interior, Colorado, evening, winter, march

I apologize in advance for the cheese-factor of this photo, but I couldn’t resist showing how cozy it was in the yurt! After two nights like this, I’ll probably never want to winter camp in my tent again!

Ouray Dawn Panorama

Ouray, San Juan mountains, Colorado, winter, panorama, dawn, february, lights

Ouray Winter Dawn Panorama : Prints Available

The lights of Main Street and the snowplow drivers cleaning up a fresh snowfall in Ouray on a clear February morning in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado. The mountains to the right are illuminated by lunar alpenglow from the setting almost-full moon.

Here’s a view of Ouray early on Wednesday morning. Be sure to click on the photo to go to the page where you can view this larger!

On Tuesday it was absolutely dumping snow around here, and with a nearly full moon and a forecast of clearing skies overnight I was up half the night thinking about where I should go for a sunrise shoot. Well, I ended up just going to the “Switzerland of America” overlook, just a minute drive up the road from my house. I’ve shot photos here many times before (as have millions of tourists), but this time I wanted to capture a more panoramic winter view of the valley. This here is a panoramic stitch of 6 vertical overlapping frames shot with a 24mm wideangle lens. That should give you a sense of the grand scale of the landscape here!

The snowplow drivers were in full attack mode since about 2:00 in the morning, and I thought about how it would have made for a cool time lapse video to see them zipping up and down all the streets. But I don’t have the patience for shooting time lapses, so I’ll leave that to somebody else…

Ridgway, Colorado, San Juan Mountains, February, winter, dusk

Dusk light over the town of Ridgway and the San Juan Mountains – February.

After shooting the sunrise, I went back home for another couple hours of sleep, drove a little ways up the road for a lap on the splitboard, got a bit of work done, watched the sunset over Ridgway with Claudia and a thermos of gluwein, and enjoyed excellent pizza and beer at the Colorado Boy Brewery. What a day! I love it here…

More February Snow!

Skier: Jeff Skoloda

For all my bitching and moaning about the lack of snow earlier this season, I must say that the snow has been pretty much fantastic around the San Juans this February! The last series of storms dumped another 1-3 feet of powder around here, and I’ve been doing my best to get after it. Here’s some more shots from the last three days of frolicking in the powder (while staying wary of the lurking snowpack instabilities, of course).

Skier: Dan Chehayl

Two More

Jake and I got out for two more skiing/splitboarding days. For me that’s been 6 out of the last 7 days on the snow! I guess Jake’s been out something like 12 days in a row… what an animal.

We’d pretty much tracked out the entire mountain we’ve been riding on previous days, so we moved to a slightly lesser known spot with north facing preserved powder.

Time for a few days off to get some work done!

February Fun

I’ve been happy to be out riding powder the last four days here in the San Juans – with a full-on powder day at Telluride ski resort on Sunday, followed by three superb days of splitboarding up on the pass.

The skier above is Dan, a local Ouray ice farmer. All the rest of the photos below are Jake, who timed his trip from Vermont perfectly!

Below are a bunch of pictures from the last three days in the backcountry.

Snow at Last

McMillan Cabins, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Last week a series of storms dumped a much-needed 2-4 feet of snow in the San Juans! On Monday we enjoyed a day of knee-to-waist-deep snow at Durango Mountain ski area. On Thursday the storm broke and Claudia and I went up to the pass for a couple laps under the gorgeous bluebird sky.

Skinning in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Unfortunately the avy danger is still so bad that we can’t really do much with all that fresh powder… We’re still sticking to the low angle safer stuff for now.