4,000 meters is an unrecognized altitude threshold within the United States. However, it is as well known where the metric system is used, as 14,000 feet is known in the US. This page is dedicated to climbing those peaks in Colorado that rise above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wilderness Trekking School Spring 2015 Kicks Off!

Always a great way to swing into Spring; Wilderness Trekking School (WTS). I look forward to teaching this class for many reasons. Meeting new people (we have 12 students this season), getting my ass off the sofa after a long winter, teaching and learning, and all the new social aspects that this class and hiking bring.

Our first field day, Dry Land Travel, is this weekend. I love to watch as the students go from a group of somewhat random people to acquaintances. The first hike does that.

You can learn more about WTS at the marginally OK web page for the Colorado Mountain Club: http://www.cmc.org/Classes/CMCClassesandSchools/WildernessTrekkingSchool.aspx

Have a great hiking season in 2015 and check back here for updates!

Friday, April 11, 2014

I’m Back

It has been over a year since I have meaningfully written on this blog. And I miss it. I have had several changes in my life in the last year and my priorities and interests have been more dynamic than in past. That situation is slowly resolving and I am getting used to a new life. In any case I really miss writing and blogging and have decided that I need to bump up my priority for those activities and get back to it as I find that writing has a positive effect.

In addition, after I finished my 40 X 50 (40 peaks by age 50) that my enthusiasm for getting to the top of mountains has waned a bit. That’s true. But it hasn’t gone away completely. I did climb last year including Mt. Flora, Mt Sherman, Mt Democrat, Beyers Peak, and a few others and I still plan on putting up a least a few peaks a year including some 14ers. And of course 13ers.

With the kickoff of Wilderness Trekking School with the CMC I realized, and this was as good a time as any, to get back to my interests of hiking, climbing, photography, and writing. I need to challenge myself. I need to meet new people and make new friends. I need to see the sights. Take pictures. Write. And of course do those things in life that make being here on this planet at this time, fun.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Colorado Mountain Club Centennial Celebration – 100 Years in the Making

This is not a true trip report. Just recognition of the Colorado Mountain Club’s Centennial Celebration and my little part in that. On September 8, 2012 the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) intended (and indeed succeeded) to put members on every 14er in the state as a way of celebrating its 100 anniversary. Plus, it’s pretty cool to put people on every 14er at the same time and it was a first for Colorado to have a single organization take on such a logistical task.
Our trip leader Beth Hungerford and I had gotten to know each other through teaching Wilderness Trekking School (WTS) for the CMC. We had never hiked together so Beth thought she would remedy that and she asked me to partner with her and co-lead Handies Peak for the CMC Centennial Celebration. I of course excepted. It would be fun to hike with Beth, contribute to the celebration, and to see Handies Peak again.
I had climbed Handies in 2010 and loved it. Handies, like all of the San Juans, is colorful, beautiful, and has all that rugged mountainy stuff a climber expects and relishes in a climb. Its relatively easy and at the same time very rewarding.
And so we did. We traveled down to Lake City on Friday, Sept 7 and rendezvoused in town for some last minute logistics. There was another team also climbing Handies that day from the CMC. We were deciding if we should join up or hike separately. The was a complication in that the person leading the Redcloud and Sunshine hike had cancelled at the last minute and we were trying to find a way to have some of the Handies group tackle Redcloud and Sunshine. These two peaks are literally right across the street from Handies.
Beth’s group was only 4 people so we decided to stick with our original goal of Handies and left the other group to figure out Redcloud and Sunshine. We would wait for them at the Handies trailhead in case they decided to join up.
To (literally) make a longer story short, Beth’s group drove to the Handies trailhead and camped out. We were ready to hike at 7:30 am, the meeting time for the other group to join us, but they did not show.
We set out towards the summit under beautiful blue skies.

Our Group (Linda, Beth, John, and Me) Under Beautiful Skies

The good weather was not to last however as about 9:00 am clouds quickly rolled in and did their best to look threatening. As we ascended the final pitches to the summit we encountered light snow showers. Snow squalls could be seen moving our way from the west.

A Dreary and Dark Sky Hangs Over Handies’ Summit

We captured the summit just after 10 am. Not wanting to tempt fate we did our stuff on the summit quickly and headed back down. Just below the summit we met up with our other team heading up.

The “Summit Shot” For the CMC Record Books (Beth, Linda, John, and Me)


Snow Squalls Moving in While We are on the Summit

On the way down we stopped at the beautiful Sloan Lake for a quick lunch (that we didn’t have time for at the summit) and then headed back to the cars. The San Juan mountains always deliver. We had a great group and put the first team of the day onto Handies’ summit!
Happy 100 years CMC!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Near Perfection! The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Paired with the New Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm/F2.8 X Series Lens



The Olympus E-M5 Combined with the New Lumix 12-35 f2.8 X Lens

Sorry this post has been so long in coming. But I really wanted to get out there and use this camera in the “real” world for my “real” uses. My intent is not to do a technical review of this camera and lens. If you want to read a full-on review of this camera and lens and their capabilities; there are many online. Just Google them.

One review in particular is ironically appropriate and can be found here: http://www.photographyblog.com/articles/head_to_head_review_olympus_om-d_e-m5_v_nikon_d7000/. This review compares the OM-D E-M5 to the Nikon D7000. Both cameras that I currently own and use.

Since purchasing the combination of the Olympus E-M5 and the Lumix 12-35 f2.8 lens I have had a chance to use this camera in many settings from family/friends gatherings to the summit of 14,000 plus Colorado mountains. This camera/lens combo is truly the photographic tool that I have waited for…well…for ever. It gives up very little in terms of image quality (if anything really) and provides the flexibility, customization, and control in a tiny very solid, weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body. This camera and lens are built as well as any camera I have owned including the Nikon D300, D80, D7000. In terms of construction the Olympus and Lumix are equal.

The Lumix lens construction is superb. It is rock solid. There is nothing loose or wobbly. The zoom action is (and I have never written this about anything) truly smooth as butter. It is the finest overall lens (construction, image quality) that I have owned. Compared to its optical peer the Nikkor 17-55 f2.8, the Lumix is more solid, better built, better optically and a third the size. Let me state that again. A third the size!

Am I gushing….Sure maybe a little. But credit where credit is due. To have this well a constructed camera/lens with the functionality it delivers is a dream come true. Is this tool perfect? Well no. But almost. The biggest knock I have against the camera is the colossally stupidly engineered on/off switch. What possessed an engineer in Japan to design the switch the way they did, after succeeding so well with the rest of the camera, I may never know.

EM5 Switch_Snapseed

The E-M5 On/Off Switch, Colossally Stupid

I really am a much bigger fan of the on/off switch on or near the shutter release. Oh well. There has also been a lot of bashing of the small size of the controls making it difficult for “people with large hands” or gloved hands to operate the camera. Well here is a news break…the entire camera is SMALL. That’s the idea! You can’t make a small camera with big buttons. I can operate the camera just fine. I guess I must have “normal” sized hands. The controls may be hard to operate with gloves on but uhh…isn't everything harder to do with your hands when you are wearing gloves. Its hard to blow my nose when I am wearing gloves and I have a big nose.

While climbing a mountain at over 14,000 feet last Saturday with gloves on I found the switches hard to operate but all of the control wheels like Exposure Comp, and Program Override easy to use. If you have “big hands” you may be better off with a Hasselblad. If you want something tiny and lightweight get the E-M5 and deal with the controls. Its no big deal. Really. Except for the stupid on/off switch.

Real World

Lets have a look at some real world imaging with this camera. After I buy a new camera I usually look for that first “Whoa” shot. The first picture that you look at from a new camera/lens and it simply has beautiful depth, color, detail etc. and you realize that you have a winner.

The first “Whoa” shot with the E-M5 and the Lumix 12-35 was this image captured high in the La Sal Mountains of Utah.


La Sal Mountains, Utah, July 2012

This small jpg really does not do this picture justice. But it is truly incredible in person. There is a wonderful depth to this image that goes beyond just having sharp detail from foreground to background. The lighting, detail, contrast, color, and rendition all play together to make an image that draws me in and leads my eye from the boulder in front to the high, far-away saddle in the background.


Close-up Of Pine, La Sal Mountains, Utah, July 2012

A little closer up shows the “macro” (not really) performance of this lens. This image really illustrates the silky smooth and pleasant bokeh that the Lumix 12-35 f2.8 can deliver. The depth of field that is reduced in the 4/3rds format (due to the smaller physical sensor size) is still completely acceptable in this close-up.

The hits kept coming with this camera/lens duo.


Edge Of The Forest, Golden Gate Park Colorado, August 2012

Again, the detail, ambiance, and rendition of this image is incredible. This image, when printed (approx.) 13” X 19”, has a depth and dimensionality that pulls the viewer deep into this scene. There is a fine quality to the trees near the right of this image even where the light begins to fall off where and the detail leads the viewer ever further into this forest.


Sunset Near Red Feather Lakes Colorado, September 2012

Dynamic range? The image above shows plenty! The very bright setting sun and the very dark shadows of the pine trees in the left foreground, all captured with plenty of detail. No blown highlights or blocked-up shadows when exposed properly. Again with the rendering that pulls the viewer all the way into this image. The ability to view the histogram “live” is probably my very favorite thing about cameras with electronic view finders. Its seems pretty damn stupid to look at the histogram after you shoot.

For something that isn’t a landscape…


Cessna 195 and Chrome, Rocky Mountain Airport Colorado, August 2012

I like to see how shiny chrome is rendered by a camera/lens combo. Here again the image has a warmth, depth of reality, and quality that makes you believe that you are really looking at, and could even touch, the chrome in the image.

So What This All Mean?

This is not a gear review at all but perhaps more of a description of the Gestalt of the camera/ lens tool and its photographic products. As I said a above, there are tons of excellent detailed reviews of both the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Lumix 12-35 f2.8 X lens. This duo is not the best photographic tool ever made. But it is pretty damn good. Real damn good actually. Also considering the magnesium alloy, weather sealed body/weather sealed lens and the completely and satisfyingly solid and mostly well laid out controls, this camera kit is astoundingly well balanced and truly great.

I really don’t like to haul big heavy gear around. In town it’s a hassle and uncomfortable. While mountain climbing its actually quite logistically and physically challenging…at least for me. One can not go light into the mountains when they are starting with 5 or 6 pounds of camera gear.

The logic here is quite simple. I can now get insane image quality, control, flexibility, ruggedness, and photographic fun in a package that is less than half the weight and size of my Nikon (or similar non-4/3rds camera). Additionally, I get:

  • Live histogram-check
  • Electronic viewfinder that can display tons of additional info-check
  • A really pleasingly styled camera-check
  • Access to a huge array of very high quality lenses from multiple manufacturers-check
  • A tool that finally fits my needs nearly perfectly-check
  • The only camera with in-body 5-axis image stabilization-check
  • Tiltable rear screen-check
  • Touch screen control-check
  • Fast response 4.5 – 9 frames per second depending on modes-check
  • It does hi-def movies but I don’t care-check
  • A blast to use-check

Unless you are wedded to a larger system format, or even if you are, but still need some added flexibility from 4/3rds, then this camera/lens combination will give you astounding results. It is not perfect. Nothing is. But it is one of the best designs and balanced compromises of technology, usability, and quality out there today.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

a common experience

scenes, stories, and lessons from an unlikely hiker

a common experience is a collection of autobiographical short stories that took place between 1998 and the present. a common experience started out as a "fine art" photography book. The text was merely to provide some quick background and context on each image.
However, as the book progressed, the text became as, or even more, important than the images. As the details of each image were elaborated into words, the intention of my book morphed from an art book, to a collection of scenes describing how my life was changed by the stories accompanying each image. The story behind each image, I realized as the book progressed, was the essence of each picture and the thing that made each image so visually powerful and important.
a common experience is not a hiking book, or a guide book. It is an autobiographical journey set in the Colorado landscape. Hiking and climbing in a common experience provide only the context and subject matter for my photographic interests, and the classroom where I was able to face fears, meet challenges, share experiences, and create a record that will hopefully be read by many.