“After finishing the sketches of Missouri, we continued on the trail that would take us up to Elk Head Pass, with an elevation of 13,000 feet or more. From there, our view would be into Missouri Basin, surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks with Mt. Harvard on the east side. What a magnificent view. There was enough material here for a lifetime of mountain painting. We had plenty of daylight left, so I took my time in getting all of the information I needed and was graced by cloud shadows in the basin. The afternoon cloud colors gave the peaks rust tones, with lavender shadows.”
Mount Harvard is featured on page 86 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
“Few people who are not dedicated 14er climbers will ever see this mountain, and I might say that few of those who have attained the summit by way of Mt. Shavano, have ever really seen the beauty of this peak. To see its north face requires hiking up Browns Creek to a point on the back side of White Mountain. Then leaving the trail and hiking up to a high meadow, which will give you this view. I was very impressed by the face, the steep bowl and its depth. The early afternoon light was dim so it was hard to pick out its color, but once again the snowfields and afternoon sunlight and shadow etched the peak enough to give me the material that I wanted.”
Mount Tabeguache is featured on page 74 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.
“The furthest south 14er in the Sawatch Range is located west of Salida. The best view of the peak that I found was from the southeast just west of Poncha Springs on U.S. 50. A lovely pasture, bathed in sunlight, was in front of me with the peak in the background in shadow. While sketching, the clouds that had been partially obscuring the mountain, began their slow release from the scene and revealed the summit in bright sun while the lower flanks of the mountain remained in shadow. With the pasture still in bright sun, I captured the moment with a quick photo.”
Mount Shavano is featured on page 70 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
“This is the highest of all of Colorado’s 14ers, and the southern neighbor to Mt. Massive, the second highest peak. The view that I chose was below the dam of Turquoise Lake, with the Arkansas River in the foreground. Once again, this view was not too difficult to find, so I had plenty of time to gather the material I would need for the painting. At this time of year there was plenty of snow on the mountain to give me the color to set off its various facets, which gives the mountain its distinctive appearance and personality. Another view which intrigued me, was from the southeast near Twin Lakes, but it was just a little too vague on the upper face of the peak. I even tried those views which were from the lower part of Weston Pass area. I did get some good photos of light and shadow on the peak from there.”
Mount Elbert is featured on page 60 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.
“This single 14er on the north side of the Continental Divide and Hosier Pass is easily accessed from the south side of the peak on the road leading to the Blue lakes, then the first right will take you around the east side of the peak into the McCulloch Basin. The river which flows out of the basin is a very good stream for fishermen and for artists like myself who like its many falls and cascades. The river drains the basin below Mt. Fletcher and Pacific peaks. The north wall of Quandary is an escarpment of cliffs that make for very difficult climbing, but it also makes very challenging material for a 14er painting. I found my best vantage point was climbing up the north side of the basin high enough to see the whole peak, its rock facets and snowfields which picked up the reflected light of its neighboring peak. I sketched and photographed, climbed back down to a small pond nestled beneath a rock wall, which I felt would work well in the foreground. The softness of this foreground I felt would work well in the painting.”
Quandary Peak is featured on page 54 of John Fielder’s book Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000 Foot Peaks.
“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.
“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.