Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

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Sunrise from Mt. Elbert



La Plata Peak from the summit of Mt. Elbert at sunrise in mid-May, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, San Isabel National Forest, Colorado.

Sunrise from Mt. Elbert, San Isabel National Forest

I began my "sunrise from the summit" project in the spring of 2006 and immediately faced a decision: with 54 peaks to choose from, where to begin? I decided to start with the highest peak in Colorado, 14,433-foot Mt. Elbert. Although it is the tallest Fourteener, it is by no means the most rugged, so I decided it would be most photogenic to shoot from its summit when the surrounding peaks were still covered with snow. I waited until mid-May, when the road opened to the Mount Massive/Mt. Elbert Trailhead, then headed in with enough supplies to try for the summit two days in a row. From long experience as a landscape photographer, I knew it was all too easy to get shut out, and I wanted to have two tries to better the odds of success. Although my mainstay camera for landscapes was a 4x5 field camera, there was no way I was strong enough to carry winter clothing and camping gear, plus a 4x5, to a high camp. Instead, I brought a Fuji GA645Zi, a medium-format rangefinder that weighs only two pounds. With case and tripod, my camera kit weighed only eight pounds ‒ not light, but much less than a 4x5 kit would have weighed.


Within a couple of miles, the summer trail disappeared beneath the lingering snowbanks, so I bushwhacked the rest of the way to a high camp just below timberline on the peaks' northeast ridge. From there, I had about 2,800 feet of elevation to gain to reach the summit. I set the alarm for 1 am and turned in.


The full moon was already low in the sky over Mt. Elbert when I left camp at 2 am. Much of the summer trail had already melted out above timberline, and at first I made rapid progress. As I climbed, I could look left into the 45-degree braided gullies of the Box Creek cirque, which I had skied one spring day several years before. The increasing wind and altitude eventually slowed my pace, but I still summited half an hour before sunrise, just in time to see an orange moon disappear over the western horizon. To the west, wave after white wave of snow-capped peaks seemed to lead on forever. To the north lay the hulking bulk of Mount Massive, Colorado's second highest peak. To the south rose La Plata, with its spectacular Ellingwood Ridge, first climbed in 1921 by pioneer Colorado climber Albert Ellingwood. In snow conditions, it looked formidable indeed, which is why it did not see a winter ascent until 1974. I chose some wind-carved snow, called sastrugi, as my foreground and La Plata as the background for my favorite image from the summit of Colorado's highest peak.


My sunrise shoot the following day proved to be far more difficult than the first. I had simply been unable to recover from the first two days' exertion. I struggled to the summit, feeling wasted and out of breath, exposed a few rolls of film in gale-force winds and descended to my camp. By the time I reached the trailhead, I was so tired I slept for an hour in the driver's seat before I felt it was safe to drive home. The magnitude of my Sunrise from the Summit project had become all too clear.

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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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