Dawn at Deadwater

THURSDAY, July 30, 2015 – Bumbling around in the dark is more a part of climbing photography than many people realize. The first, and last, light of each day is often the most visually striking, occasionally illuminating the world in breathtaking golden and red hues. Any serious landscape photographer will tell you that the “edge of daylight” can be a very rewarding time to be out with a camera. Standing next to your tripod, car parked nearby at a scenic overlook, as the sun creeps over the horizon requires the discipline to rise early–and lots of coffee. Being in position, dangling from a rope far above the ground, after having walked half a mile–all in the dark–demands considerably more than just discipline. Both photographers and climbers have to be slightly crazy to engage in such foolishness. We don’t do it every time we go out (we are only part-time fools and it’s hard to find willing climbers) but the results are usually worth the effort.

Deadwater at Dawn

Katie Farris leading Bozeman Bullet at Deadwater Cliff.

This photograph, “Dawn at Deadwater”, is from a photo shoot we completed in late June. There are only a few days each year when the angle of the sun permits this kind of lighting. We calculated the rising sun would only briefly accentuate the arete, just after dawn, on Bozeman Bullet. But dawn around the time of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, is really, really early! We had to be up and out by 3:30 am, an alpine start for a climb just 10 minutes from the car! Katie was willing and more than able. Hiking in to the cliff while it was still dark, fueled by coffee, she scampered up the lower section of the climb while R.L. ascended a fixed rope we had left the evening before. Both were in position and ready as the first rays of warm sunshine peeked through the trees onto the rock. After just a few minutes the golden dawn glow gave way to daylight and it was time to pack up and get breakfast. Many thanks to Katie, and the sun! Both rose right on schedule.

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