One of the final 2016 monsoon storms over Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Monsoon Clouds over Catalinas from Windy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x48″)
When I stepped off the plane from Nepal in late June, it was about 110F (~40C) here in southern Arizona. Fortunately, the monsoon started soon after I arrived. After work one evening I drove up to the top of Sentinel Peak (near downtown Tucson) and shot a few panoramas of the lumbering monsoon storms as they approached from the south.
Monsoon Storm from Sentinel Peak #2, Tucson Mountains, AZ (16″x74″)
Routes on the north and west faces of the rock promontory above the Prison Camp area make for great spring climbing along the Catalina Highway on Mt Lemmon. I especially liked the shadows of the passing clouds on the hills in the background.
Boot Hill Cliffs and Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x39″)
Just past Milepost 9.9 and the Seven Cataracts Overlook, the road cut along the Catalina Highway (General Hitchcock Highway) forms two vertical cliffs on either side of the road. The climbing cliffs just uphill from this pullout are called The Green Slabs. There are a variety of traditional (‘trad’) routes on the south face and sport climbing on the north face. Here are a few photographs from the area.
Focus on the Rock, Coronado National Forest, AZ (12″x18″)
Green Slabs Cliffs and Highway, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x49″)
The vertical panorama can help give a sense of scale from the base of a cliff, but the perspective inherent in this type of panorama can also distort the image. As I’ve been working on my climbing photography, I have tried a few techniques that I would normally never employ in my landscape work; here I wanted to emphasize the artificial, human aspect that we bring to a traditional (‘trad’) climbing route even if we remove all the gear when we’re finished.
On Lead up Turret Rock, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x42″)
The southwest-facing cliff at The Ruins crag provides a great location for a pleasant day of winter climbing in southern Arizona. I wanted to capture the full size of the rock face, a little foreground at the base, and the mountains fading into the distance off to the south (right), so I ended up stitching together a series of stacked photographs for this double-tall panorama.
The Ruins Cliff, Coronado National Forest, AZ (20″x40″)
While climbing in January near the base of Mt Lemmon, I stopped at the mouth of a small canyon to take this vertical panorama of the rock, vegetation, and clouds.
Bush and Winter Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x38″)
In early January, one of our only winter storms blew through southern Arizona (in what was supposed to be an unusually wet El Nino winter here in the Southwest). I was hoping to go climbing further up in the Catalina Mountains, but the Highway was closed, so we parked and walked our climbing gear up to Hairpin and spent a gorgeous day listening to a flowing creek and climbing beneath a ceiling of billowing winter clouds.
Hairpin Cliffs and Winter Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x50″)
After spending the day climbing near the top of the Catalinas, I stopped at the Seven Cataracts pullout along the Catalina Highway to take this photograph of a monsoon storm over Tucson.
Here is the second part to a series of photographs from Windy Point, Mount Lemmon.