My wife when she was still with us used to call Pikes Peak a “Cantankerous Old Lady”, which may well be very true 🙂 However she is also as beautiful as she is unpredictable and she can be counted on to put on a different face every day. I have to carry with me my camera at all times because I never know when she is going to decide to put on a spectacular show. This day turned out to be one of the better ones, the first hint of the storm that was rolling in from the south and spilling over onto the north face of the great monolith. Much of the time when it is cloudy there is no hint of color and all that you can see is a big brown rock peeking out from the clouds. This particular morning however, the Master Painter of Sunrises allowed the sun to barely shine on the north face enhancing the many colors that occasionally shine through.
I have a 30 year history on this mountain, and can attest to the ever changing conditions visitors might encounter. One time as I was scrambling back down the mountain to avoid the approaching storms, I encountered a group of tourists at the A-Frame wearing and carrying nothing but shorts and t-shirts. One asked me, “It’s only three miles to the top from here right?”. I replied, “Yes, but it is the hardest three miles and a storm is coming, I recommend you go back down.”. They looked at me like I was an alien and headed up the trail. I supposed they must not have perished as there were no tragic news reports later. I used to train for the Leadville 100 Mile Run by spending every Saturday making the trek from Manitou to the Peak and back on the Barr Trail. The trail is only accessible for a couple of short months but in that time you might encounter anything from a clear crisp morning to blizzard conditions in the same day! Above the tree line thunderstorms and lightning strikes are regular visitors along with teeming wildlife, if you are paying close attention to your surroundings.
The beauty of the Old Lady often belies the harshness of life at 14,000 feet. One time on a glorious winter day I was attempting to summit the west face on snowshoes with my buddy Ralph. We were having a perfect day and had just cleared the ridge and made it a bit past the Pikes Peak Highway intersection when we decided to take a break and enjoy some nourishment for the push to the summit. As we stood contemplating whether we would reach summit in time to make it back down safely before the short winter day would end quickly in darkness, in an instant we suddenly found ourselves fighting for our lives. The mountain decided to blast us with a massive wind gust which we later found from weather reports was probably in excess of 100 mph. The burst actually knocked us to the ground and a complete whiteout raged around us unabated. We made sure not to lose contact with each other and from the look of our frozen beards and skin we knew we had to get off the mountain fast. Our trail was already covered but an outcropping showed us the way and we ran as fast as we could towards it. Soon we were down a few hundred feet in elevation and life was back to normal. At the trailhead it was a beautiful warm afternoon and pools of water were forming all over from melting snow. Now when we see the wind sheer and snow blowing hundreds of feet in the air over the back side of the summit… we comment, “Now I know what it is like up there when that happens!”.
There were no such hardships on this particular photo shoot though, only the beauty of a magnificent summer sunrise. These photographs and others including some beautiful deer that I recently had the pleasure of photographing are available for purchase as prints and royalty free stock on my website. Beautiful wall art products such as prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas and traditional frames and mattes can be seen on the regular website while stock images can be purchased from the image licensing portal.
Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items