Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

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Sunrise from Mt. Columbia



Stormy sunrise over the upper Arkansas Valley from the summit of 14,071-foot Mt. Columbia, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Sunrise from Mt. Columbia, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

‚ÄčThe night was nearly calm, with abundant stars, when I emerged from my tent at 1 a.m. and started up the western flank of Mt. Columbia. It was hard to believe the weather forecast called for a "20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 9 am." The waning moon was starting to set, but was still above the ridge to the west, so for a while I raced the advancing shadow up the initial gully. All too soon the terrain steepened, then steepened again, and the rising shadow beat me handily. At the crux, the footing was awful, with steep, hard-pan dirt covered with gravel and scree. You couldn't fall off the west flank of Columbia, but you sure could rip off a lot of skin.


Storm clouds gathering over the Arkansas Valley from the summit of Mt. Columbia, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, ColoradoThe footing improved as the angle eased slightly. After gaining 2,000 vertical feet in less than three-quarters of a mile, I finally reached the summit ridge at 13,600 feet. It was still completely dark on a now-moonless night. I glanced to the southwest and noticed that the stars low in the sky had been blotted out by clouds. I couldn't tell how dense the clouds were, however, so without much thought I continued up the summit ridge.


As I got higher and the sky began to grow light, I could see that the clouds were rapidly thickening, spreading, and growing closer. Now the entire western sky was filled with menacing clouds, and I could see virga beginning to fall. Thick gray masses began descending over Princeton and Yale to the south, as well as the peaks to the west, and the wind picked up strongly. I reached the summit just before 5 am and began debating what to do. Then I saw a single flash of cloud-to-cloud lightning to the west. That made my decision. I called Cora from my cell phone a few minutes after 5 and told her I was heading down. I re-packed my gear and began the descent, but had only gone 50 feet when I saw that the light to the east was becoming spectacular. A ragged blue hole appeared in the clouds overhead, and I decided I had to shoot something. I surely didn't want to do this route again! I shed my pack and struggled to get set up in the fierce wind before the light faded. Streams of virga descending from dense clouds to the east were silhouetted against the golden glow along the eastern skyline just as the sun crested the horizon. Then the clouds began lighting up to the south. For 20 minutes I worked the light frantically, trying to capture the scene before the light faded off the clouds in front of me and lit up clouds somewhere else. As the sun rose into a dense cloud bank and the light show ended, I decided I'd pushed my luck as much as I cared to for one day and started down.


Storm clouds gathering over Mt. Princeton and Mt. Yale from the summit of Mt. Columbia at sunrise, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, ColoradoSnow squalls rolled over me repeatedly, and strong winds made balance difficult. At 13,000 feet, I encountered another mountaineer, who made the prudent decision to head down. Two hours after leaving the summit, with the weather still threatening, I reached my tent again and collapsed, feeling thoroughly wasted. Without even bothering to eat, I slept for an hour.


When I awoke, I poked my head out of my tent and was astonished. The sky was clear, the sun was shining brightly, and the wind was calm. The stormy weather had lasted only four or five hours. I packed up and headed down. When I got home, I dug up the morning's forecast discussion on the National Weather Service website, eager to understand such rapidly changing weather, and found out that a "shortwave trough" had rolled through. Shortwave troughs are fast-moving disturbances in the upper air flow that cause rising motion in the air ahead of them. As the air rises, it cools. The moisture present in the air condenses, first into clouds, then into rain and snow. Once the shortwave passes, the sky can clear quickly. My deepened scientific understanding of what I had observed only heightened my awe at the spectacular display of Armageddon light I had been privileged to witness.

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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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