“While trying to find a good vantage point to find the best view of Mt. Bross, I drove to Alma, turned west into Buckskin Creek then headed in until I rounded a corner, and behold, there was a beautiful rampart of Mt. Democrat. I was on an old mining road, that crossed back and forth across Buckskin Creek and made it difficult to examine the peak, which at this moment was in shadow. An early summer storm had moved in, the mountain was in shadow and the foreground was still bathed in bright sun. It added to the drama of the moment. Quick sketches and photos to capture what I was seeing, truly one of the best moments of my fourteener experience.
The view I finally used was from material I had by climbing a short distance up Mt. Bross. An earlier view of Mt. Bross from Kite Lake was a wash, so I headed back to Alma.”
Mount Democrat is featured on page 50 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
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“The material that I had collected on Mt. Bross was never what I wanted for the fourteener series. To me it always looked like a large mound of dirt. I painted it in desperation so I could complete the series of fourteeners. Always from the south and with various foregrounds, so I never attempted to sell it. Then on a casual trip across Hosier Pass in the late spring, I saw it as I had never seen it before. Early afternoon on a bright cloudless day, Mt. Bross was adorned in ermine with only slight wind-blown patches showing above timberline, and the cliffs with little snow left were shadowed in blues. The trees below were dark blues with only a few openings to show the deep snows of spring and awaiting arrival of summer on the orange willows. In the foreground at the far edge of a sloping snowfield, a tall dead Ponderosa Pine, standing tall with its amber bark and foliage in strong color contrast to the mountain behind. I finally had the fourteener I wanted.”
Mount Bross is featured on page 48 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
“The northernmost peak of the Mosquito Range is on the southern side of the Continental Divide and Hosier Pass. I had a gallery in Breckenridge, so the trip between there, and my home near Conifer in the front range above Denver took me over the pass many times. Consequently, Mt. Lincoln was no stranger to me. However, when I decided to get its material for painting, I stopped, watched and waited to see which of its many facets would offer the best material. There is a small group of houses at the bottom of the pass, and the road that services them also leads to a reservoir at the base of Mt. Lincoln. I drove up to the reservoir, sketched and photographed the area then returned to the pass. After hiking around I wasn’t sure that the light and time of year were what I was after. So I drove home, returning in November and was pleased to see that the early snows had only put a light coating of snow on the peak. It was the time, and the light was right.”
Mount Lincoln is featured on page 40 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks. Rather than a painting of this mountain being featured, it is one of Wogrin’s many detailed sketches.
“In the summer of 1979, after Robert returned home having graduated from college, we began making plans for out first fourteener trip, Mt. Bierstadt. Examining our topos, we decided that the best view of the peak would be from the south. How to get there was the question—hiking up Scott Gomer creek from the west, toward Abyss Lake between Bierstadt and Mt. Evans? We tried, and after a long hike in, it was decided that we were too low and could barely see the summit. The solution had to be higher up on the north side of Epaulet Peak.
On the following day, we left Denver well before dawn, and by first light we were above Summit Lake looking east toward the plains. The sunrise was lighting them in varying shades of crimson as was Denver and everything below us. The coloring was almost overwhelmingly surrealistic. We parked the car at the first switchback on the south side of Evans, climbed down to the shoulder and headed toward Epaulet. Climbing up and over wasn’t difficult, so we didn’t waste time getting to our goal which was high above the Abyss Lake trail on the west shoulder of Epaulet. From our perch we were greeted by the most magnificent display of sunrise color I had ever seen. Long streams of light, illuminating every fact of the peak. Blues and lavenders in shadows that grew deeper as they receded into the depths of the canyon. Approaching storm clouds formed the perfect backdrop with the cloud’s shades of purples and grays. Would I ever be able to capture on canvas what I was witnessing before me?
That was the start. This fourteener is hanging in the George Phippen Memorial Museum in Prescott, Arizona.”
This entry was the premier excerpt from Wogrin’s journal series. As a fitting exit from 2020, and entrance to 2021, here is Mount Bierstadt—one of Wogrin’s most iconic paintings. This painting is featured on page 39 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
Have a happy New Year!
“I had looked at this peak from every direction, and painted it from Estes Park, but the best of all was the east face, the “Diamond”. I started at the ranger station parking area, followed the trail through timber then on up to an area just below Lady Mt. Washington peak where the trail turns to the north side. I climbed down to the area below Chasm Lake. It gave me an excellent view of the escarpment of the diamond and east past the “Ship’s Prow” to Mt. Meeker. I did very detailed drawings, to get the accurate features of the peak. My illustration experience came in real handy. It took a while and as usual, the lighting on the peak continued to change as did the cloud formations and color. Back on the trail I was thankful that I wasn’t being chased off the mountain by stormy weather. Upon my return to the parking area, this time I had no trouble with the car.”
Longs Peak is featured on page 30 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
“After the good luck we had in finding the material for Mt. Bierstadt, I was disappointed in other views I was finding of Mt. Evans. It is a huge peak with many facets on all sides, but they just didn’t offer me the material I was looking for. On one of my trips to the peak, I drove up Chicago Creek to Echo Lake, which gave me a view into Chicago Basin on the north side of the peak. I had seen it before, but I guess the light was just right because I knew that I had found the view I was looking for. A quick photo, then I took the road up Mt. Evans past timberline, parked the car where the road passes from the west side of the rampart to the east side. With my camera, and sketching pad, I hiked down off the road and made my way around the west side of Mt. Warren to a point where I had a view into the Chicago Lakes below Gray Wolf and Mt. Spaulding to the west, and the north wall of Mt. Evans ahead. Lots of fall colors and late afternoon light gave the scene a rosy glow. I stayed too long, because a quick mountain squall chased me back to the car, where to my chagrin, I discovered my keys were locked inside. Once again nature came to my rescue. I put a large rock through the back window.”
Mount Evans is featured on page 20 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
“After sketching and photographing Torreys, I took the road up Stevens Gulch. It circles around the backside of Mt. Kelso until it opens into a large valley at the base of Gray’s Peak. This is the point at which most climbers who are going to climb these two peaks will start their assent. There was still snow on the road, and on the peaks, and I made the mistake of trying to drive farther than I should have. I high-centered the car on a snowdrift across the road. I didn’t want to lose the light, so I left the car, and hiked into the basin. There was an old mine there, so I decided to include it in the painting. Then two hikers passed, and they too became a part of my fourteener history. After a while when I finished sketching and making color notes, I went back to the car and solved its problem by finding a small dead lodgepole pine, which I then shoved under the car and with a sawing motion, eliminated snow drift.”
Gray’s Peak is featured on page 15 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks. Rather than a painting of Gray’s Peak being featured, it is one of Wogrin’s many detailed sketches.
“It was a bright, clear June morning when I left home and headed up I-70. My quest on this particular day was to obtain the material that I needed to do the paintings of Torreys and Grays Peaks. I left the highway at Bakerville and proceeded up the dirt road into Grizzly Gulch. After a short trip I saw the view of Torreys that I was hoping to find. The north face of the peak was still covered in heavy snow and the morning light made all of the shadows blue; darker on the rocks, lighter on snow. I know it would make a beautiful painting except for a big bare earth mound in the left foreground that didn’t seem to want to go away no matter where I stood. I solved the problem. There was a beautiful rock escarpment on Wolf Creek Pass which is no longer there, a victim of the Colorado State Highway Dept. But it will live forever, in place of the earth mount in the foreground of this painting.”
Torreys Peak is featured on page 17 of John Fielder’s new book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks.
“Wetterhorn Peak is southwest of Uncompaghre Peak, with its easiest access from Henson Creek on the south. The trailhead and parking are for both peaks. When I saw Wetterhorn it was in the late spring and most of the snow on the south slopes had melted. But there was still plenty of snow left on the peak and the approaches to it. It did not take long to gather the information I wanted. I saw a lot of lavender tones in this one and made a comprehensive sketch, which helped later in my studio.”
At 14,015 feet, Wetterhorn Peak is part of the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains, and is featured on page 2 of John Fielder’s new book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks.
Welcome to the Colorado Fourteeners
Within the borders of the state of Colorado lie 58 of the highest mountains in the country, all featured in the recent book, “Colorado’s Highest, published by John Fielder. The height that separates these peaks from the thousands of other mountains is 14,000 feet above sea level. There are only four states that can boast of having a fourteener – Alaska, California, Colorado and Washington. With only 88 Fourteeners anywhere in the US, Colorado has more than 60%.
Without regard to the importance these peaks may actually have, there is an undeniable mystique which exists about this exclusive club of mountain peaks. Trying to capture this mystique is challenging but through the eyes and brush of an artist who has lived in the shadow of these peaks his entire life, we share with you a tour of Colorado’s highest peaks. Enjoy the journey.
This series includes fifty-four original oil paintings and thirty plus sketches by RL Wogrin. This includes peaks from eight mountain ranges. Many of the fourteener images shown here are featured in “Colorado’s Highest” book and the sketches shown are available on wogrinart.com.
Blanca Peak – North Face 9″ x 12″
Most of the original 30” x 40” paintings have been sold, but a few select paintings remain and prints for some of the most popular are available.
In addition Wogrin, also has small formats paintings of many of these peaks available, including Blanca Peak (shown here). Whether you’re a fan of fine art, scenery, climbing or mountain geography, check them out.