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A landscape photograph of Mount Chephren in the Canadian Rockies during a winter sunrise

Light’s Embrace – 2022

This mountain has plagued me since I started my winter pilgrimages to the Canadian Rockies. Each year it’s near the top of my list, and each year, I come home empty-handed. There are either clear skies or too many clouds that block the sunrise from embracing my favourite peak. It’s also rare to get good light and snow-covered trees. To get snow-covered trees, you need a winter storm followed by a few days of calm conditions to keep the snow on the trees while the system moves out.

So, you can imagine my excitement when a large winter storm hit this area the day before we arrived, dumping 30cm of fresh snow on the landscape. I only hoped that we’d get an opportunity for light to push through on one of our mornings early in the trip.

That morning turned out to be the second morning of the trip. The forecast was for medium-altitude clouds with an opening in the east that could allow the morning light through. We pulled up in the dark, put on our waders and snow snowshoes and began the trek to our spot. As we got closer, the snow on the trees just kept getting thicker and thicker. I couldn’t believe how perfect the conditions were. I got into the water and set up this composition, and we waited for the morning light to push through. In hindsight, we may have got there a little early because even in my insulated waders, I began to lose feeling in my toes. I kept having to get in and out of the water to try and regain feeling.

As the sun broke the horizon, the clouds started building up in the east, and I began to lose hope. None of us wanted to quit early, so we waited and were rewarded for our patience. We got a few moments of breathtaking morning light, redeeming all of those failed attempts of the past.

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