Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

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Sunrise from Mount of the Holy Cross

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Sunrise from the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

Sunrise from the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

I had just one peak left in my seven-year quest to shoot sunrise (or sunset) from the summit of all fifty-four of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks: Mount of the Holy Cross. For seven years, I had been climbing Fourteeners alone. In fact, I had been the only person on the summit during all of my sunrise and sunset shoots. For the final shoot, it seemed fitting to ask my wife Cora and our two daughters, Emily, 19, and Audrey, 17, if they would like to join me. We had hiked a few Fourteeners together before, but never in the dark. To Emily and Audrey, it sounded like a fun adventure; to Cora, an ultra-fit athlete who disliked scrambling, it sounded like a challenge. If a solid trail led to the top, she would be the first to reach the summit; if the route involved balancing up boulder fields, she would be the last.

 

The most feasible route to Holy Cross requires hiking two miles from Half Moon campground to the top of Half Moon Pass, descending 900 vertical feet to East Cross Creek, then ascending the broad north ridge of Holy Cross to the 14,005-foot summit. Although many climbers blitz Holy Cross from the trailhead in one day, shooting sunrise from the summit with that approach would have turned an adventure into an ordeal. We chose to hike in the day before and camp along East Cross Creek.

 

I always worry about over-sleeping and missing sunrise, particularly when I need to get up at midnight. My solution was to buy two watches, remove the bands, then affix hook-and-loop to the back of each watch so I can attach them to the inside of a fleece hat. The alarms sit right next to my scalp, just above my forehead, making them impossible to ignore. That solution, while effective, was much too prosaic for Audrey (a born romantic) and so I set my smart-phone alarm to play Celtic Woman’s The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun at midnight. It’s a song that’s guaranteed to spur you out of your tent in the middle of the night, psyched to climb a Fourteener in the dark and witness sunrise from the roof of the Rockies.

 

Sunrise from Mount of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Wilderness, ColoradoThe Colorado Fourteeners Initiative has worked hard to build a sustainable trail to the summit of Holy Cross, and for the first 2,800 feet of elevation gain we made steady progress. Five hundred feet below the summit, the trail faded into a cairned route across large blocks of talus. Our progress slowed to a crawl. Unlike our daughters and me, Cora didn’t grow up hiking in mountainous terrain, and she has never mastered the “twinkle-toed, tippy talus two-step,” as I call the delicate art of balancing across a boulder field. The sky began to brighten. The precious minutes before sunrise were ebbing away. Would I miss sunrise and have to try again?

 

Panting hard, we reached the summit with only minutes to spare. I began shooting immediately. Emily snapped a few frames with her camera while Cora tried to help Audrey, who was shivering and suffering from the altitude. All too soon, the light lost its warm sunrise hue. My Sunrise from the Summit project was complete, but the elation would have to wait. First I had to make sure everyone descended safely. Fortunately, Cora found it a bit easier to navigate the talus in daylight. Audrey began feeling better as we descended. After a meal at our tent, she was feeling so good that she set the pace as we started the hike out with the 900-foot climb back up to Half Moon Pass. Soon afterwards we were rolling for home.

 

Seven years earlier, I had set out to capture the exhilarating, humbling, and awe-inspiring experience of being a tiny speck on top of the world. Certainly I had recorded the amazing scenes I had witnessed. Some of the images even captured what I felt. I could only hope that my Sunrise from the Summit images had captured my feelings so clearly and convincingly that they could evoke the same feelings in my viewers.

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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 GlennRandall.com 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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