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An isolated thunderstorm cell hovers over Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington State. I took this panorama during a massive day of climbing in the Stuart Range, which my partner and I intended to finish by climbing the spiny summit ridge directly beneath the thunderclouds in this image. As we neared the summit of nearby Colchuck Peak, we heard the crackling boom of thunder and looked over to see this storm dumping sheets of rain over the next summit on our list. We looked at each other nervously, and considered calling it quits right there, but eventually decided to continue, hoping the clouds might dissipate instead of growing even angrier. Luck was on our side that day, and the storm cleared just before we started pawing our way up the ridge, letting us summit just before the sun dipped below the horizon. I have always loved this image because of the incredible contrast it demonstrates, not only in its colors but also in the physical forces at work.


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