Fire and Ice
On the same evening that would later produce a spectacular total lunar eclipse, a different spectacle was unfolding when looking through a long lens at the Mount Whitney summit. While I awaited the coming darkness for the forthcoming celestial event, I was watching the weak weather system do battle along the Sierra Crest. The clouds were dancing along the ridge line dropping waves of sow that obscured the highest peaks. As the sun began to set, this dance became a show of fire and ice. The warm alpenglow from the setting sun long since hidden from view by the 14,000 foot wall, was bouncing off of the turbulent clouds. The southerly winter sun in this view is far to the south as evident by the crepuscular rays streaking from the jagged ridge on the left leading off to the north on the right. The alpenglow was backlighting the clouds behind the peak but also reflecting onto the front of the face, bathing the sheer granite in orange light that contrasted with the foreground slopes illuminated only by the deep blue sky to the east. Mount Whitney’s superlative summit here is obscured somewhat by snow that makes it seem blurred as the light that would define its shape scatters. The drama lasted only a few minutes before the color and the rays faded.