Glenn Randall Photography

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Milky Way from Missouri Mountain



Milky Way from Missouri Mountain, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Milky Way from Missouri Mountain, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

When the spring of 2013 began I had fourteen Fourteeners to go in my seven-year Sunrise from the Summit project. I was determined to finish all fourteen by August, but hoped to do most of them in May and June, when the peaks still held snow. The winter had been dry, but in April a series of massive storms swept through Colorado. By mid-May there was more snow on the high peaks than I had seen at any time of year for several years. I decided to work on Missouri Mountain, Mt. Oxford, and Mt. Belford, the group of peaks in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness that is accessible from a single basecamp high in Missouri Gulch. I expected shooting three peaks in a row to be strenuous and sleep-deprived, especially since I wanted to shoot the Milky Way from each summit, which meant arriving on the summit at least two hours before sunrise. I didn’t expect the shoot to end with a desperate struggle to get out of the mountains.


I camped at the 9,650-foot trailhead to start the acclimatization process, then headed up the Missouri Gulch trail at first light. Continuous snow began at about 10,750 feet, and I lashed on my snowshoes. It took five and a half hours to haul a big load of winter camping gear and camera gear, including a multi-row panorama setup and heavy tripod, to a high camp at 12,500 feet. Even though it was spring, the temperature on the summit before sunrise would be well below freezing. Hanging out in the cold, wind, and dark for several hours would require plenty of warm clothing. I also needed a winter tent to withstand the potential winds at my exposed camp above timberline, as well as a winter stove setup with enough firepower to melt snow efficiently.


Mt. Harvard and the valley of Pine Creek at sunrise from the summit of Missouri Mountain, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, ColoradoI napped for a few hours in the early evening, then got up again at 10:45 p.m. and began snowshoeing up Missouri Mountain just before midnight. I cached the snowshoes and switched to boots and ice axe when the slope steepened. Two hours after leaving camp, I reached the summit ridge at 13,700 feet. I was still about two-thirds of a mile from the summit. Surely I could travel two-thirds of a mile in an hour, I thought. I was wrong. I had never seen such deep, unconsolidated snow on the summit ridge of a Fourteener. High winds normally scour such ridges dry, even in the depths of winter. After two hours of strenuous post-holing, I finally summited at about 4 a.m., just minutes before the beginning of astronomical twilight, the moment when the sky begins to brighten and the stars begin to pale.


I threw on warm clothing and set up the camera as fast as possible. The sky at 14,000 feet on a moonless night still seemed very dark and the Milky Way glowed against its cobalt background. I managed to shoot a dozen frames before the Milky Way faded into the dawn sky. It was still an hour and half until sunrise. For an hour I danced and shuffled to stay warm, watching the world below slowly emerge from the gloom of night. Half an hour before sunrise the second light show began. With the sun still below the horizon, the clouds to the east began lighting up over Mt. Belford, Mt. Harvard, and the valley of Pine Creek. The moment of sunrise was muted as the sun rose into dense clouds, and I headed down soon afterwards, plodding back across the summit ridge, then down the east face to my snowshoes and eventually to camp. Naturally, I was ready for a long nap, but I still felt strong and healthy. One peak down, two to go!

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Glenn Randall Photography  |  2945 Colby Dr.  |  Boulder CO 80305-6303 | Office 303 499-3009  |  Mobile 720 320-7126

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I offer over 100 images on this site, in four or five sizes each and as many as five different presentations (loose, matted-only, framed, gallery-wrap canvas, and gallery float). It is impossible to keep every size and presentation of every image in stock at all times. Accordingly, most of the items I offer for sale on are hand-built one at a time as customers order them. It normally requires between five and ten business days to complete an order, but it may take longer if I am on an extended shoot. Shipping time is in addition to these figures. To get specific information about delivery time for a particular item, please call 303 499-3009 or email me. I will do my best to accommodate rush orders. Thanks for your patience!

All photographic prints, regardless of presentation (loose, matted-only, framed, etc.) are delicate and require careful packaging to be shipped safely. Accordingly, all online purchases will have a 15 percent charge added for shipping and handling. This shipping charge only covers shipments to the continental United States. Please contact me for a quote on shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or to international destinations. If you would like to pick up your print at my home office in Boulder rather than have it shipped, please call 303 499-3009 (office) or 720 320-7126 (mobile) to complete your purchase and make arrangements for pickup. Alternatively, I can deliver prints in the Denver metro area for $1.00 per mile based on round-trip mileage.

All matted-only and framed prints larger than 24x30 inches, all gallery-wrap canvases and gallery-float prints larger than 30x40, and all framed panoramas wider than 30 inches, are too big to be shipped via FedEx ground and too big to fit in any standard-size art box. While these prints can be shipped, they require a custom-made crate and the cost is exorbitant ($300+). I strongly suggest that all customers who live outside the Denver metro area and who wish to purchase a print larger than the maximums specified above buy the loose version and take it to the custom frame shop of their choosing. Loose prints can be shipped rolled at the standard shipping rate of 15 percent of the retail price. I will gladly provide detailed instructions to the framer on the moulding I use and my preferred method of mounting and framing the piece.

I use elegant hardwood frames on all of my framed prints. The image above right shows the frame I use for the smallest framed size of this image. I use proportionally larger frames with the same color finish for larger prints. The moulding shape will vary, depending on the size. For more information on the frames I recommend for different size prints, please visit my framing page.

Studio Moulding frame 353-125 cherry Studio Moulding Forte 4934 mahogany-finish picture frame Studio Moulding Forte 4834 mahogany-finish picture frame

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