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"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive / But to be young was very heaven."

— William Wordsworth, The Prelude


Climbing in the mountains is inheritently dangerous — climbing alone is even more of a cautionary tale.

Watch out for what you want and why you want it.

— Devon O'Neil


What you pay attention to is what you experience, and what you experience becomes your life.

— Jack Turner

A Mountain Lifetime Gallery  currently contains : 8324 images in 212 albums.

Just as any given peak has more than one way to reach the summit, I wanted to make sure getting to information at this site is both enjoyable and accessible in a number of ways. The basic premise is that everything is grouped by albums. Anyone who is familiar with Flickr will understand what that means.

Albums tend to cover a specific period of time — a trip somewhere, an expedition ... that sort of thing. If you interested in looking up a particular peak or region (state/province/country) use the menu links of the same name.

The menu choices are designed to do the following:
1: An intro Slide Show — a short automated show of some favorites from my 'younger' days.
2: A Collections page. These are albums that contain groups of related images and differ from regular albums in that they don't refer to a particular trip or year.1
3: A simplified Flickr like list of all Albums. Albums are displayed in chronological order.
a. The album view displays a submenu of categories to fine tune your interest.
b. Some albums descriptions have a link to 'read more' ... a story as it were with more detail.
c. Eventually all digital images (since 2009) will have a date stamp in the image caption. It is a work in progress.
4: A full Chronology timeline by year. Each year may contain more than one trip. Each trip may contain more than one album. It's the "the whole enchilada".
a. The chronology view also displays a submenu of categories.
b. The chronology page also displays dynamic jump anchors to any given year which adjust automatically when you click a category link.
5: A Regions/Locations page which returns a list of albums after you select a region and then a location within that region.
6. A List of Peaks Climbed. It is sortable. You can also filter the list by region.
a. You can then read the notes about any particular climb (the read more link)
b. You can also open a lightbox of images for that climb by clicking on the Peak Name
7: A Peaks/Climbs page that displays all peaks in a given location. You start by selecting a region. From the results a choice of Locations is displayed.
a. You can also open a lightbox of images for that climb by clicking on the Peak Name
8: A fully indexed Search page. Search results are the exception to the rule. They are completely independent of the album structure.
9: And finally, a simple Contact form.
The difference between the Chronology or list of all Albums pages and the Regions page is that the former has links to filter by activity — alpine, desert, backcountry skiing etc., while the latter can filter by region — state, province or country. The Peaks/Climbs page on the other hand is the best way to find a specific peak by way of filtering first by region and then location

#1. Some albums are not specific to a particular year or trip. This can be the result of the troubling loss of numerous images from my early years of travelling out west. Or it can be because here in NH it makes more sense to group things like: rock & ice climbing, hiking and backcountry skiing into an album that is activity related. These images can be found on the Collections page.

The five kids in the Cole family were introduced to the mountains purely by accident. We grew up in Westchester County NY in the Peekskill - Croton area. We'd been going to local day camps for a number of years when mom and dad figured out how they could get rid of us for the whole summer. Summer camp in NH was pretty exotic for us and I imagine a great relief for them. I can recall our father driving up to the Lakes Region when there were no Interstate Highways. Back roads all the way. I even remember Dad taking us up and over the Kancamagus Hwy when it was still a dirt road.

At one point it was a family affair these White Mountains. In 1965 after camp was over for the season, Chip, Rick and Bump Wilcox, Tom, our Dad and I were keen on some kind of Prezi Traverse. We got as far as Madison Hut. It being August, who would have thought that we'd get 6 inches of snow that night. Well we did, so all we got the next morning was a fine snowball fight. This was Dad's one and only foray into the backpacking genre. I really wish he'd been keen to do more.

Most camps back then tended to be sports oriented. Lucky for us, we ended up at 'Uncle Miltys' on Purity Pond south of Conway. He ran the boys camp and his sister the girls camp. It was here that all of us were introduced to hiking in the White Mts. As far back as I can remember, whenever I was outdoors, I always seemed to have a camera in my hands. The camp staff would send our film off for processing and then a week or so later at dinner they'd come around with the slides or prints of our efforts as shutterbugs. They were primitive at best, but I still have a handful of those faded images.

At Uncle Milty's (Tohkomeupog [boys] and Wampanauk [girls], if you stuck around long enough you would find yourself working for next to nothing as a camp counselor (1968-70). Free room and board and the food was good. And of course, if you wanted to, you got to do an overnight backpacking trip with your campers once a week - or a canoe trip if that was your preference.

photo by Ken Schory

Nothing lasts forever, and by 1968 Chip and I had been introduced to rock climbing and motorcycles by Rick Wilcox who Chip had more or less spent every summer with as far back as I can remember. Uncle Milty didn't like either of those activities and eventually we found ourselves doing different things each summer. In my case in the summer of 1972 I went to work for Rick at EMS in North Conway for the princely sum of two dollars an hour. All of a sudden there were more than a few climbers around to feed my appetite. Work schedules were very conducive to climbing as we worked 3.5 days on and then had the same amount of time off. I was pretty lucky to have two mentors — I guess you could call them that. John Bragg and A.J. LaFluer both took me under their wing and guided my raw clumsy technique into something that actually worked. I'm grateful to both of them.

Photo by Mark Hudon

When Paul Ross and Rick came back from adventures out West in 1973, the rest of us were pretty convinced we wanted some of that too! That's where this story and the content of this website begin.

Gallery Report : Albums and Images by Category
# Category # of Albums in Category # of Images in Category
1 Ice 104 259
2 Rock 11 411
3 Alpine 55 4067
4 Expeditions 13 655
5 Mountains 3 2119
6 Skiing 8 71
7 Desert 6 174
8 Big Wall 7 143
9 Northeast 3 305
  Totals: 212 8324
Gallery Report: Albums and Images by Region
# Region # of Albums in Region # of Images in Region
1 Alaska 4 166
2 Alberta 5 133
3 British Columbia 17 572
4 California 78 3547
5 Colorado 15 314
6 French Alps 1 128
7 Idaho 2 81
8 Maine 5 162
9 Montana 3 165
10 Nepal 1 12
11 Nevada 3 55
12 New Hampshire 6 502
13 Northwest Territories 1 39
14 Oregon 1 27
15 Pakistan 5 413
16 Quebec 1 23
17 Tajikistan 1 64
18 Utah 11 216
20 Washington 17 446
21 Wyoming 34 1252
Gallery Report: Albums and Images by Year
# Year # of Albums in Year # of Images in Year
1 1975 7 / 7 84
2 2002 3 / 10 86
3 1995 6 / 16 252
4 1992 6 / 22 131
5 1984 4 / 26 67
6 1997 4 / 30 130
7 1988 9 / 39 231
8 1999 3 / 42 45
9 2000 3 / 45 49
10 1998 3 / 48 90
11 1990 7 / 55 253
12 1985 5 / 60 113
13 1979 7 / 67 172
14 1980 4 / 71 81
15 1981 6 / 77 122
16 1989 7 / 84 267
17 1994 4 / 88 131
18 1991 3 / 91 193
19 1993 3 / 94 169
20 1986 5 / 99 109
21 1983 3 / 102 74
22 2003 1 / 103 44
23 1976 7 / 110 91
24 1977 4 / 114 106
25 1996 4 / 118 158
26 2004 2 / 120 76
27 2005 1 / 121 41
28 1982 3 / 124 63
29 1978 1 / 125 128
30 2008 1 / 126 57
31 2009 4 / 130 135
32 2011 4 / 134 164
33 2012 8 / 142 451
34 2013 7 / 149 368
35 2014 4 / 153 207
36 2015 9 / 162 503
37 1974 3 / 165 35
38 1987 1 / 166 13
39 2016 3 / 169 286
40 2019 5 / 174 333
41 2017 5 / 179 270
42 2018 7 / 186 260
43 2020 2 / 188 155
44 2021 6 / 194 223
45 2022 5 / 199 308
46 2023 4 / 203 261
  Totals: 203 / 203 8324


A brief look back at the cameras that have taken this journey with me. The film era is a bit vague and thus the timeframe is somewhat of a guess. But, it's close enough. The digital era, for obvious reasons, is quite accurate.

(Click the camera name to see an image)
# Name Type Mega Pixels Lens Type Primary Lens Time Frame Notes
1 Nikormat film n/a SLR 35mm 1973 - 1984 The poor man's Nikon. All mechanical focus and metering. Durable and trustworthy. So many climbs done with this camera.
2 Nikon FA film n/a SLR 35mm 1984 - 1988 My first electronic camera. Wildly inaccurate metering. Very frustrating to use. Results got better once I learned to compensate.
3 Nikon N2000 film n/a SLR 35mm, 28-105mm 1988 - 1991 The best Nikon I ever owned. Accurate and reliable. Also the first camera I owned with auto advance. After I switched to Canon my brother Chip used this camera for many years before like everyone else, he went digital.
4 Canon EOS A2 film n/a SLR 28-105mm 1991 - 2000 The big upgrade to Canon cameras in time for the G2 trip in 1991. The A2 was known as the EOS 5 outside of the US. Eventually given up for the lighter and smaller Elan series and in particular the Elan 7
5 Canon EOS Elan 7 film n/a SLR 28-105mm 2000 - 2009 The last of my film cameras. Really liked this camera. Fast, reliable and accurate. Alot of Fuji Velvia went to the lab from this camera. Eventually added a wide angle zoom to go along with the mid and tele zooms.
6 Panasonic Lumix LX-3 digital 10 fixed zoom 24-60mm (35mm equiv) 2009 - 2011 After the poor performance of my Canon G3 which I never took to the mountains, the LX3 was a brilliant upgrade. A great little camera.
7 Panasonic Lumix LX-5 digital 10 fixed zoom 28-90mm (35mm equiv) 2011 - 2013 Upgraded to this version for the longer zoom. Too bad the rear wheel was not weather sealed. Camera eventually became useless and Panasonic said to everyone that it was user error. Switched to Olympus shortly thereafter.
8 Olympus XZ-2 digital 10 fixed zoom 28-112mm (35mm equiv) 2013 - 2014 A good move to switch to Olympus. The XZ-2 had an even longer zoom range for the same 1/1.7 sensor as the 2 LXs. Sony had just released the RX100 with its 1" sensor, but that option came at quite a cost. It also did not have a EVF option which I really wanted for being on snow.
9 Olympus Stylus 1 digital 12 fixed zoom 28-300mm optical (35mm equiv) 2014 - 2015 Still one of my favorite cameras. I'll hang on to it forever. This small compact camera has a 12 mega-pixel sensor with an F2.8 28-300 optical zoom lens. That's a pretty sweet package. Nobody else was making anything like this. But, industry wise, the move was on to bigger sensors, and point & shoot enthusiast cameras with 1/1.7 sensors got left behind. Sony's RX100 and it's 1 inch sensor now owned the future.
10 Olympus OMD E-M10 Mark 2 digital 16 user choice Olympus 24-42 pancake zoom (28-84mm equiv) 2015 - 2021 For me, the OMD E-M10 seemed like the better choice when it came time for a sensor upgrade. Bigger than the RX100 sensor and smaller than an APS, the micro 4/3 at 224 sq mm was 5x as big as the Stylus 1's sensor. Choosing lenses was the big challenge. The pancake was perfect for climbing and a 14-150 (28-300mm) zoom was just right for backpacking. I used this camera for almost 6 years.
11 Fujifilm X E3 digital 24 user choice Fujifilm XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 (27-84mm equiv) 2021 - Kind of a impulse upgrade to a Fujifilm camera. The APS-C jpgs are noticibly sharper than a m4/3 right out of the camera. It's 1.6x larger. After so much time with the E-M10, I'm still getting used to the Fuji system. I wish Fuji offered a more collapsible zoom for climbing reasons (the Olympus pancake is about an inch thick !). Am not sure I'll buy any other Fuji lenses as they are quite expensive. We'll see though.
12 Olympus OMD E-M10 Mark 4 digital 20 user choice Olympus 24-42 pancake zoom (28-84mm equiv) 2022 - For me, the OMD E-M10 still seems like the better choice for backcountry use. The pancake zoom is ideal for climbing and the wide angle & telephoto zooms are small enough for backpacking and exploration. The Mark 4 is a good upgrade. Better battery power management, in-camera charging and more accurate metering. For me that's just about optimum.


Probably of little or no value for most people. Still ... if you're curious.

  1. Two things to be aware of when viewing images in the galleries.
    a. First off: when I was climbing alot I wasn't a very good photographer.
    b. And secondly, Kodachromes are really hard to scan - particularly shadow detail - though I am getting better at it.
  2. This website was designed for large images. Rough translation: large monitors, high res laptops or at a minimum an iPad. When the site was ready, I launched it without a mobile version. After about a year I decided that I really couldn't ignore small devices. So, after about a months worth of work, new code was uploaded and mobile users now have access to pretty much everything that desktop users have. This change took place on 12/19/2019
  3. FYI, here's the recipe for the site. The acronym is LAMP or WAMP
      Linux OS for deployment / Windows here at the office for developement
      Apache web server
      MySQL database
      and PHP server side language.

    Throw in some jQuery (a Javascript framework) for AJAX and CSS for layout / style and well, there you have it.


In no particular order
  1. 1. Fix lose of query during pagination on Search Results - DONE: 9/28/2022
    2. Add albums by location to the regions section of the site - DONE: 3/6/2024