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Sunrise from Windom Peak

Sunrise from Windom Peak, Weminuche Willderness, Colorado

Sunrise from Windom Peak, Weminuche Willderness, Colorado

After two shoots back-to-back on Sunlight, it was time to tackle Windom. Windom is the easiest of the three Fourteeners in the Needle Mountains. I had climbed it after shooting sunrise on Sunlight the day before yesterday, so I knew the way. Climbing the peak again in the dark on the fourth day of my trip was a matter of summoning the will to set the alarm again for 1 am, and grinding it out. Despite my fatigue after three nights of inadequate sleep and a lot of exertion, I still turned off my headlamp briefly partway up the peak to marvel at the spectacle of the Needle Mountains by moonlight. In this crowded world, it is a rare experience to be alone, at night, at 13,000 feet, looking out at a landscape that few have ever seen under such conditions.

Once on top, I returned to the vantage point a few feet from the summit cairn that I had selected while scouting two days earlier. I started shooting looking east at the sun rising over the valley of Vallecito Creek with South Sunlight Lake immediately below. In the distance, on the right, I could see Rio Grande Pyramid; on the left, a bit closer, I could pick out Mt. Silex and The Guardian, rising amidst an endless storm-tossed sea of jagged peaks. Then I pivoted the camera as quickly as possible and shot looking north, toward Sunlight Spire and Sunlight Peak, with the peaks of the Grenadiers. Finally, I pivoted again and shot looking south toward Jupiter Peak and Grizzly Peak, both rugged Thirteeners. When I saw the film on the lightbox after the trip, the first of these compositions proved to be the most evocative, and is the one I selected to show here.

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