New Releases - An Unforgettable Winter

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Mountain Winter Storm
A winter storm as its crawls over the top of Mammoth Mountain and the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Deciding on the name of this New Releases Gallery was easy as the 2018/2019 winter season was truly unforgettable in so many ways. Unforgettable for the record breaking cold and snow, non-stop storms, furious blizzards, and winter not ending until June. Despite the serious challenges winter brought there was also immense beauty between the storms.

It started as most winters do with a few small snow storm early in the season. Everyone in the area always gets excited to see the first blanket of snow on our beloved mountains and we speculate on what the winter has in store for us. Little did we know at the time that winter would would last 6 months and February would drop a record breaking 24 feet of snow (you read that correctly 24 FEET!) and we would also record the snowiest month of May ever with another 2.5 feet. Residents were literally tunneling their way out of their homes. Main Street in Mammoth, normally a 5 lane road, bogged down to 2 lanes as snow was falling faster than the small army of snow removal vehicles could remove it. Snow banks on the side of the road became so tall they blocked the street lights and buried buildings.

Ritter Banner Sunset
Ritter and Banner peak during the first dusting of winter snow at sunset.
Alpine Atmospheric
Winter atmospheric conditions near Mammoth Lakes.

Many residents, businesses, and news outlets alike dubbed the winter brutal, never-ending, and a snow-pocalypse. For myself, one of the most challenging aspect of the winter was driving. Not only to try and get myself into positions to photograph, but simply to open the gallery! February alone saw many closed days at the gallery as Highway 395 would continue to close due to inclimate weather and dangerous road conditions. 4x4 Vehicles with Mud/Snow tires and/or chains were required on all vehicles heading north of Bishop for weeks on end.

Driving Highway 395 this winter required extreme caution. I am use to driving in difficult winter conditions, but twice I got caught in scary situations. In both cases, I was in the middle of nowhere and found out the hard way that the highway should have been closed, but was not. I won't go into great detail here, but both situations involved powerful wind gusts and wind driven snow. Stop into the gallery sometime and I would be glad to share the story!

Lenticular Panorama
A massive lenticular cloud formation at sunset.

As I stated before, the winter was not all doom and gloom and did present some some stunning opportunities for some unique winter landscapes in the Eastern Sierra. We had a number of spectacular sunrises and sunset that painted the winter sky in bright and vibrant colors, while other scenes captured the subtle winter textures and atmospheric conditions in the mountains.

Painting White Mountain
14,252 Foot tall White Mountain during a painterly winters morning.
Early morning light bathing the cliffs of Wheeler Crest on a brisk winters morning.

One winter phenomenon that I was very keen to capture this winter is called Poconip, otherwise knows as freezing fog or hoar frost. There are a few areas in the Eastern Sierra where poconip can form, usually in the higher elevation valleys and accompanied by sub zero temperatures. I had seen this strange formation many times before but always struggled photograph it. This winter was an exception as there was numerous opportunities to find compositions and scenes to capture it in a variety of ways.

The Frosted Forest
Poconip, also known as Hoar Frost, covering the forest in ice and frost.
Winter's Whisper
A misty, very cold, and freezing fog morning around Mammoth Lakes.

As the new releases gallery is titled, this last winter was unforgettable for me. One that I will remember with fondness and animosity. For its beauty and its raw frigid power. For its snow white mountains and its blizzards. What will next winter bring? No one knows for sure but I know we are all excited to see our Sierra Winter Wonderland once again.

Thank you all for your support of my work and the gallery and thank you for reading my winter ramblings. Be sure to check out the rest of the photographs from the New Releases and let me know what you think!

Stay tuned for the next gallery as I have been spending alot of time in the Eastern Sierra backcountry this summer!

Posted in New Releases.