Rapid Ascent 2 – Aiguille du Midi

Landscapes, Photography, Travel

Above: Steep, craggy peaks dwarf a steady stream of climbers en route to Mont Blanc base camp. Sun flares intensify an already dramatic scene. July 23, 2013. 

My last post – Rapid Ascent 1 – took us to 7,800 feet. It was the first of two gondola rides, and the second climbs to 12,605 feet without a single support tower. The trip started early, at 6:30 a.m., and the line of mountaineers meant waiting for the third car. The views and sunrise proved well worth the wait.

The Aiguille du Midi – meaning “Needle of the Middle” – is the perfect start for someone trying to summit Mont Blanc, taking climbers to within 1000 meters of the 4,810 meter summit. Mont Blanc, translated into “White Mountain,” is the highest peak in Europe. 

There are multiple viewing platforms embedded in rock to challenge one’s vertigo. Cross a seemingly precarious steel-grate bridge, walk through a carved out mountain, and take an elevator to the highest point – “ohs,” and “ahs,” can be heard as people take pictures and peer over guard rails. Eye-filling views of Mont Blanc the incredible Alps make this a truly unique experience. 

The first viewing platform seen from the highest point -  the town of Chamonix nearly invisible in the background.

The first viewing platform seen from the highest point – the town of Chamonix nearly invisible in the background.

AguilleDeMidi-9

Mont Blanc -Europe’s highest peak – fills the frame from the Aiguille du Midi, 3,842 meters. Note base camp in the lower left of the image.

A close-up of base camp on Mont Blanc. People, tents and walking paths mixed with the sheer scale of the mountain lend a very celestial feel.

A close-up of base camp on Mont Blanc. People, tents and walking paths mixed with the sheer scale of the mountain lend a very celestial feel.

Fantastic Weather, Fun Skiing in Fairbanks.

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Sports, Travel

Above: Snow-covered spruce trees lead to a hill north of Fairbanks briefly blanketed by the golden glow of sunrise.

While much of North America is recovering from the recent polar vortex, Fairbanks has been experience lovely weather. Temperatures were above zero degrees fahrenheit for much of December and January, including plenty of balmy days up into the 20-degree range. Not to say we haven’t had cold weather – last weekend was 40-below – but it has felt pretty mild so far.

All that warm weather was ideal for cross-country skiing. Nordic skiing is easily one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors while getting a killer workout.

One of the outings was directed toward a frozen pond (in the summer nothing more then a swamp,) overlooked by a old cabin on the bank. Whispery clouds provided a canvas for the pink and orange sunset to blanket.

An old cabin at sunset just north of Fairbanks Alaska, Jan. 2, 2014

An old cabin at sunset just north of Fairbanks Alaska, Jan. 2, 2014

Closeup of an old cabin.

Closeup of an old cabin.

 

Dusk and Dawn Landscapes

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel

It’s a subject I’ve talked about before, long Alaskan summer light. Dusk and dawn, referred to as “golden light” in photography, are but a few short hours apart. A fishing trip to the Copper River Valley early June gave me a prime opportunity to photograph both ends.

In the first image: Alpenglow illuminates Mount Drum, left, and Mount Sanford, right. Shot at 11:10 p.m., June 11, 2013.

Alpenglow highlights mountains along the Richardson Highway,11:10 p.m., June 11, 2013.

Alpenglow highlights mountains along the Richardson Highway,11:10 p.m., June 11, 2013.

Before getting on the boat the next morning I walked down to the Copper River to photograph a gorgeous sunrise, At 4:30 in the morning, just over five hours later.

Sunrise over the Copper River at 4:30 a.m., June 11, 2013.

Sunrise over the Copper River at 4:30 a.m., June 11, 2013.