Posts Tagged With: Aspen

Backcountry Skiing in the West Elks – Colorado

I may have moved to Wyoming, but I still have a lot of ties back in Colorado; ties to friends and also ties to the mountains.  I am especially fond of the West Elks and particularly the Ragged Mountains, a sub range of the Elk Mountains.  The Elks are the same mountains that surround the popular ski town of Aspen, Colorado, but the West Elks are much less traveled.

It was in the West Elks where I went backpacking solo for the first time and also where I fell in love with backcountry skiing.  The tiny town of Marble is an incredible place; buried in the mountains and bordering wilderness areas on three sides, the scenery around this town with population of less than 100 will likely never change.  Also, the quarry that supplied marble for the columns of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial came from this secluded corner of the Rocky Mountains.

Last weekend, a couple for friends and I drove up the road to the quarry to access some of the best backcountry skiing terrain I’ve ever explored.  Powder hunting was my primary objective, but I did stick my small Canon mirrorless camera in my backpack to snap a few shots along the way…

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Mika the husky surveys the scenery as Lee pauses just before topping out on our goal for the day.

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It is hard to get a good look at your line below with cornices blocking the view.  Still, the more distant views aren’t anything to complain about!

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Cornices?  What cornices?  Mika isn’t concerned about approaching the edge and getting a better view!

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It’s a long and steep trip up from the valley floor.  The only way to get to the top is by putting one foot in front of the other; Jason is busy doing so in fine style as he nears the last pitch of uphill.

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Lee drops in along a steep ridge while Mount Justice looms in the distance.

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Lower in the bowl and out of the steepest terrain, Lee lets loose and makes big and fast turns down the mountain.

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After Lee enjoyed his run down the mountain, Jason dropped in and enjoyed the untracked powder snow.

I absolutely enjoy Wyoming, but to be plain and simple, I miss this special place…

 

Categories: Nature, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Favorites Images from 2011

In 2011, I spent a significant portion of the year working in the San Luis Valley around  Alamosa in Southern Colorado and quite a few of my images reflect my time spent in that area of the state.  However, I continued to explore the wild spaces around “home” in the central mountains of Colorado.  It seems every time I go hiking in the wilderness that is right outside my backyard, I see more spots off the beaten track that I want to explore.  Just the mountains of Central Colorado could keep a hiker busy for a lifetime, not to mention all the other backpacking opportunities that abound in the American West!  I typically shoot landscapes, but I included a few images of backcountry skiing and snowboarding.  The majority of my skiing in 2011 year was around the Wolf Creek Pass area on the Eastern side of the San Juan Mountains but I did make it over to Silverton where the mountains are so big and rugged I imagined I had been somehow magically transported to Alaska!

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Aspen Porch – Aspen, Colorado

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Mt. Blanca Star Trails – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Moon and Wind – Sanford, Colorado

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Couloir Skiing – Silverton Mountain, Colorado

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Rime Trees – Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

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Self Portrait – Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

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Horse Portrait – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Horse Pasture – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Moon Rocks – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

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San Luis Sunflowers – Outside Sanford, Colorado

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Clearing Storm – San Luis Valley, Colorado


Categories: Architecture, Hiking, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the Archives – Favorite Images from 2009

With my computer’s hard drives near capacity, one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to go through my old photo archives and cull the herd so to speak.  In the process of sifting through literally thousands of images, I found a few images that I really enjoy, but had forgotten about.  I ended up spending a lot of time reminiscing on past adventures and dreaming of future ones!

The year 2009 was truly a pivotal year in my life.  I had been living in the Colorado mountains for several years and was really falling in love with the mountain lifestyle; I couldn’t see myself ever leaving.  I spent  all of my free time exploring the mountains and was becoming comfortable hiking off trail and navigating the vast wilderness areas that Colorado and the American West so thankfully have.  I was also introduced to backcountry skiing and began catching glimpses of the incredible beauty the mountains have to offer in the winter.  I was lucky to have friends that were willing to teach me the techniques required to play safely in the mountains.

It was in 2009 when I began to truly focus my energy to not only visit beautiful and remote areas in nature, but to photograph these locations in a more personal and artistic way.  In the past, I had used my photography as more of a means to document my adventures, but in 2009, I really began to shoot my photographs with the intent to invoke an emotional response with the viewer.  I didn’t want to just show people I had been somewhere neat; using my photographs, I wanted people to feel what it was like to be there.

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Bald Mountain Summit – Gore Range, Colorado

Bald Mountain rests opposite the valley from the world famous Vail Ski Area in the Eagles Nest Wilderness.  From the village of Vail, 12,126′ Bald Mountain rises over 4000′ vertical feet in 5 miles from the trailhead on the valley floor.  Climbing this mountain was a major undertaking and success for me at the time.  With Bald Mountain being one of my first winter climbs, every time I see it, whether I’m skiing at Vail Resort or just driving by on I-70, this peak puts a smile on my face.

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Mount Huron Sun Burst – Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

When I tell people I think it is fun to go camping in the snow, most of them think I’m crazy.  I think it’s awesome.  And, besides, snow can linger in in the mountains well into July.  Considering snow storms can come as soon as September, to enjoy the high mountains of Colorado means you also need to enjoy snow!

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Bridal Veil Falls Detail – Hanging Lake, White River National Forest, Colorado

Hanging Lake outside of Glenwood Springs is a mega tourist destination; the steep trail is packed with vacationers throughout the summer.  In fact, by mid morning on a nice day, the parking lot at the trailhead often fills up and spills out onto the shoulders of the interstate!   Despite the crowds, one visit to the lake and accompanying Bridal Veil Falls, you you will understand why the spot is so popular.  I made the hike to Hanging Lake in late spring and had the place all to myself.

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Vail Valley Sunset – Edwards, Colorado

I sometimes forget how spoiled Coloradans are.   The above view is a short hike from a my former home in Edwards, just west of Vail, Colorado.

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Mount of the Holy Cross – Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

William Henry Jackson literally put Mount of the Holy Cross on the map when he was the first to photograph the mountain in 1873 while on the Hayden Survey.  Nearly 150 years later, not a whole lot about this mountain has changed.  To get the above image of Holy Cross, I drove to the trailhead in the middle of the night so I could climb Notch Mountain and be on its summit before sunrise.

The Holy Cross Wilderness is an incredibly beautiful area.  Especially surrounding the wilderness namesake, the valleys are chock full of sparkling high alpine lakes packed with  vibrantly colored trout.  I’ve hiked the majority of the valleys and climbed many of the mountains in this wilderness and still, I feel myself being pulled back to this incredible slice of paradise.  Accessed from the town of Eagle, Nolan Lake on the western end of the wilderness is one of my favorite spots.  From parking on the rough road at the ghost town of Fulford, it is a relatively easy several mile hike with only 1,400′ of vertical gain.

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Nolan Lake – Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

In the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness outside Aspen, Colorado, one popular and awe inspiring trek is the four pass loop, which in 30 miles, circumnavigates the famous and photogenic Maroon Bells (if you don’t recognize the names, trust me, you’ve seen pictures of them).  The trek involves hiking up and over four high alpine passes all around 12500′ in elevation.  The start and finish of the four pass loop is Maroon Lake, where the most well recognized photos of “The Bells” are taken.  I feel a little guilty in admitting it, but I’ve never visited Maroon Lake under ideal conditions to photograph; I’m always passing through on my way into the wilderness….

Fravert Basin - Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Fravert Basin – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

At the time, the four pass loop was the longest hike, in both mileage and days off grid, that I had undertaken.  I have since graduated on to longer and more intense treks, but at the time, I could hardly believe my accomplishment!  Hiking thirty miles carrying a heavy pack in up and down terrain at high elevation is hard work, but well worth the effort!

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Snowmass Lake Reflection – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

With Utah being Colorado’s western neighbor, I ashamed if I don’t visit this amazing state at least once a year.  The sandstone fins, arches and canyonlands in the Moab area alone could keep an adventurous soul exploring for a lifetime.

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Dead Horse Point – Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

The canyonlands across southern Utah is jaw dropping but so are the out of this world arches and rock formations; especially those found in Arches National Park located north of Moab, Utah.

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Klondike Bluffs – Arches National Park, Utah

Categories: Hiking, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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