Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

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Sunrise from Sunlight Peak



Sunrise light on Mt. Eolus, North Eolus, Turret, Pigeon and Monitor peaks from the summit of 14,059-foot Sunlight Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, CO

Sunrise from Sunlight Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado

‚ÄčThe experience of shooting sunrise from Mt. Elbert and Castle Peak suggested the idea that I would find the best Fourteener summit photos on peaks that were relatively close to very dramatic neighbors. That, in turn, led me to think about three of the most rugged peaks in Colorado, Mt. Eolus, Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak, which are clustered together in the Needle Mountains of southwest Colorado.


The Needle Mountains, a part of the San Juan Mountains, are justifiably famous among mountaineers. Even today, they require a full day to approach them. When Franklin Rhoda, a member of the 1874 Hayden Survey, saw the Needle Mountains in the distance from the summit of Mt. Sneffels, he wrote, "We have never yet seen the group from any station (and we have viewed it from all sides) without feeling both deep respect and awe for their terrible ruggedness."


Stormy sunrise over Windom and Sunlight Peaks and South Sunlight Lake, Weminuche Wilderness, ColoradoIn July, 2006, I rode the Durango and Silverton Narrow-Guage Railroad to Needleton, then backpacked six miles in to Chicago Basin, basecamp for all three peaks. The next morning (or should I say, in the middle of the night?) my alarm jarred me awake at 1 am. Map study had convinced me that Sunlight Peak probably offered the best composition, so I started with it. My plan had one hitch: I'd never climbed any of these peaks, and trying to find my way up class II and III terrain in the dark, by headlamp, with a 4x5 field camera on my back, was a daunting challenge. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The worst that could happen, I thought, was that I'd sit down on some ledge in the dark, put on all my warm clothes, and wait for the sun to come up so I could find my way back down.


A steep but straightforward trail led to Twin Lakes and then into the basin below Sunlight and Windom peaks. From there things got trickier. I knew I was supposed to climb the Red Couloir. In the dark, of course, all colors are indistinguishable, even with the aid of moonlight. So which gully was the right one? A GPS position fix and some map, compass and altimeter work eventually got me started up the right couloir. At the top I exited left, following the guidebook's description, but missed the line of cairns indicating the easiest route. After thrashing up unstable talus and gravel-covered slabs, I reached some broken ledges just beneath the last 100-foot cliff blocking access to the summit ridge. Could I crack the final barrier? With difficulty, I scrambled up to a sharp notch and peered over into the yawning abyss beyond. Surely that couldn't be the easiest way; if it was, I was certainly not going to climb it in mountain boots (rather than rock shoes) with a 4x5 field camera on my back. I backed down and tried another way, eventually climbing through a short, steep tunnel behind a huge boulder to gain the summit ridge. I emerged to discover that the summit was just 50 yards away.


I pulled on warm clothes and considered the photographic possibilities, eventually setting up looking west toward Eolus. At the last minute, the clouds to the south over Windom lighted up, and I made the mistake of trying to move the camera. By the time I got set up again 30 feet away on the extremely uneven terrain, the best light had faded. I set up again looking west, and fortunately was in time to make the image you see here, which shows Mount Eolus, North Eolus, Turret, Pigeon and Monitor peaks arrayed before me, their tips glowing in orange sunrise light.

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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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