Friday, August 26, 2016

Mount Denali (McKinley) Southface, Alaska

North America's highest peak, Mount Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, faces Kesugi Ridge which is located north of Anchorage, in Denali State Park. (Yes, Denali State Park is distinct from the well known big brother Denali National Park & Preserve)

To capture sunrise glow on Denali's south face, I backpacked Kesugi Ridge which parallels Denali and the Alaska Range across a valley on a beautiful weekend in July. The trail ascends through forest, then rocky terrain, and opens up to alpine tundra. Soon after climbing above the tree line, majestic Denali was supposed to show off... however, Denali was hiding behind clouds, as is not uncommon. With an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m), the mountain creates its own climate and often generates clouds around the mountain although it was a perfectly clear day.

Once getting up on the ridge, the trail was almost flat and continued along the ridge. The clouds over Denali slowly departed, and showed off the entire mountain while I was setting up camp. It was a perfect evening as the sun lowered behind the Alaska Range. The light rays lit the silhouette of Denali...

The sky above Denali was still clear at sunrise. View of Denali at camp. It was windy and cold at dawn as I set up the camera outside the tent door and while sitting inside my warm sleeping bag, I was able to capture the sunrise on Denali. It was early July, under the midnight sun, there was only a few hours of twilight instead of darkness. When the sun appeared on the edge of the horizon, the very first light hit the highest peak! Slowly, the golden light shifted downward...

As the sun slowly rose, the glow on the mountain lowered... The thin clouds behind the mountain turned to peach colors... In the northern latitudes, sunrise and sunset take much longer. Photographers appreciate this long "magic light" for sure!

Stunning morning lights painted Denali and the whole Alaska Range in warm crimson. Several unnamed creeks from melting snow flowed down Kesugi Ridge. What a perfect morning in wilderness.

I had captured the south face of Denali, next will be the famous north face view. I'm heading to Denali National Park & Preserve this weekend. Camping for a week, I'm hoping to capture the sunset glow on Mount Denali with bright red fall colors of tundra. Wish me good weather!