Sunrise from Buttermilk


Missed the last chair on Buttermilk so i had to skin up to the top.  This was the first time i did any kind of skin up with this elevation change and an absolute full load on my back.

To put it lightly i got crushed.  a 45 min hike took me about two hours.  I started out at the new Tiehack lift on buttermilk then took the most direct and the steepest route to the top.  By the time i got to the top the moon was just starting to rise and i had missed out on the shot i was looking to get but i set up my cameras for some star trail images that i could use in other photos (no foreground elements in the shots) so they could be used for sky replacements if i ever found myself needing images like that.  I set up my first camera pointing north with polaris in the shot to get circular star-trails. then set up another camera pointing south west to get long streaks across the entire frame.  Once that was finished i set up my Bibler tent and fired up the MSR XGK stove to boil some water for a cup of tea.

I let the cameras go for about two hours while i hunkered down in my sleeping bag in the tent reading a book.  As soon as i felt i got enough stills for a star-trail image i got up and started to shoot some panoramic’s of Aspen Highlands and Capitol Peak with the moonlight on them.  Last task for the night was to pull out all the AUX battery systems and lens heaters i carried up for the time-lapse of the rest of the night.  It took me about 15 min to set up both cameras with lens heaters, recheck the focus (they tend to get bumped when i strap the heaters on) then head to bed.

When i woke up the next morning there was a low layer of clouds off to the east that were blocking the sunrise a bit and not a cloud in the sky otherwise.  Clear blue skies make for great night shots but they are just about worthless when it comes to a nice sunrise landscape.  I shot a few images with my 70-200 then put on the extenders to get some closeup shots of Capitol Peak at dawn.  Once i was finished with all the stills for the morning i set both cameras up to shoot a time-lapse while i packed up the tent and all my gear for the ski down back to the car



Here is the spot where i took most of these images.  its not quite to the top of buttermilk but i have always liked this angle better.

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About thomas o'brien

Thomas O'Brien is a visual artist living in Aspen Colorado.

He is primarily a photographer. but has been shooting video and time-lapse since about 2008. Thomas is also available for consulting and personal instruction in photography, digital processing, retouching and photo tours/workshops. All of the images are available for sale (both fine art prints and licensing).