9780826354402-1

“New Mexico’s High Peaks – A Photographic Celebration” by Mike Butterfield, foreword by Bob Julyan

University of New Mexico Press, $39.95, 172 pp. (With 134 color photographs, 13 maps and three tables)

Mike Butterfield has these upcoming booksignings: at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 19 at Alamosa Books, 8850 Holly NE; at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo , Santa Fe; at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 6 at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW; at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10 at Petroglyph National Monument; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 18 at Page One, 5850 Eubank NE, Mountain Run Shopping Center.

By David Steinberg

Let’s get this straight. Mike Butterfield did not write every word of the text of his glorious new book of photographs at a computer in his Albuquerque home, altitude 5,200 feet.

Read the opening sentence of Butterfield’s preface and you’ll know where else he did wrote:

“As I write this I am bivouacked just below the summit of Fairchild Mountain in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness at approximately 12,340 feet. …Despite the fact that there is no level ground up here, I am quite comfortable.”

In that outdoor setting, in case you wondered, Butterfield used pen and paper for the preface.

The writing complements the photography in his new coffee-table-sized book, “New Mexico’s High Peaks – A Photographic Celebration.”

Butterfield is both the professional photographer and the writer here. Central to those roles is his love of high-altitude have-camera experiences as a backpacker and hiker.

The book’s subtitle declares Butterfield’s photographs as a cause to celebrate. Indeed, we should celebrate his shimmering color images of the mountains with peaks that are 12,000 feet or higher.

There’s another reason for celebration – the awe-inspiring presence of these mountains.

What makes 12,000 feet the minimum for “high peaks”?

“That’s always been the magic number,” Butterfield said. “In New Mexico, timberline is about 11,500 feet. If you look at all the summits in New Mexico, and in Colorado and in California, 12,000 feet is about that break-even (measurement) above timberline. It’s a good benchmark for the state and it sets the criteria for higher peaks.”

All of New Mexico’s high summits, the book states, are in the Sangre de Cristo range, running through north-central New Mexico from the Colorado line to just south of Santa Fe. The majority of those summits are within federally designated wilderness areas or wilderness study areas.

Maybe not “all.” The book hedges by listing a single exception – southern New Mexico’s Sierra Blanca, in the Sacramento Mountains, whose peak today is at 11,973. Butterfield writes that when he climbed Sierra Blanca in the 1970s, its altitude measured 12,003 feet.

“But by any other measure, Sierra Blanca reigns supreme. This huge extrusive volcanic mountain is the southernmost mountain in the United States that shows solid evidence of glaciation,” the book states.

Some interesting facts of mountain highs are brought up. One is that in the continental U.S. only California, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming and Utah have higher summits than our state.

Flip the comparison and you learn that New Mexico’s highest point exceeds any of those in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

You may ask just what is New Mexico’s highest summit. That accolade goes to Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet.

The reference to Wheeler Peak leads to some geological info. The peak itself, Butterfield writes, “is composed of a layered gneissic material that has undergone extreme metamorphism deep underground and is about 1.7 billion years in age.”

Not all of New Mexico’s peaks are named. Readers will find the letters “un,” meaning unnamed, preceding the elevation of some peaks.

Scattered throughout the book are lessons in geology, topography, animal and plant life as well as tidbits about history, advice on trail access for hikers and the best mountain vistas for the car-bound.

Butterfield took the 134 photographs that are in the book over four decades. The earliest images he shot were in the 1970s when he used a 35mm camera. From the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, he used a medium- or large-format camera. Over the last 10 years or so, Butterfield used a digital camera.

Butterfield said he was inspired to organize this book after visiting friends in California in early 2011.

He was talking with an old guitarist-buddy. Butterfield and the friend had stopped playing together when Butterfield moved back to New Mexico in 1992.

“He announced that he got a recording deal … That got me jealous. He’s continued to play music. I stopped playing music and started photography more heavily,” Butterfield recalled.

“I think it was in response to his new band, his new music. That’s what got me off my butt and writing the book.”

In his foreword, Bob Julyan notes that a sudden rainstorm soaked Butterfield in one of his mountain hiking adventures with camera. Butterfield confirmed that he hiked in his underwear for several miles until his pants dried.

Butterfield co-authored the UNM Press 2006 book from UNM Press  “Mike Butterfield’s Guide to the Mountains of New Mexico.”

 

By David Steinberg

Let’s get this straight. Mike Butterfield did not write every word of the text of his glorious new book of photographs at a computer in his Albuquerque home, altitude 5,200 feet.

Read the opening sentence of Butterfield’s preface and you’ll know where else he did wrote:

“As I write this I am bivouacked just below the summit of Fairchild Mountain in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness at approximately 12,340 feet. …Despite the fact that there is no level ground up here, I am quite comfortable.”

In that outdoor setting, in case you wondered, Butterfield used pen and paper for the preface.

The writing complements the photography in his new coffee-table-sized book, “New Mexico’s High Peaks – A Photographic Celebration.”

Butterfield is both the professional photographer and the writer here. Central to those roles is his love of high-altitude have-camera experiences as a backpacker and hiker.

The book’s subtitle declares Butterfield’s photographs as a cause to celebrate. Indeed, we should celebrate his shimmering color images of the mountains with peaks that are 12,000 feet or higher.

There’s another reason for celebration – the awe-inspiring presence of these mountains.

What makes 12,000 feet the minimum for “high peaks”?

“That’s always been the magic number,” Butterfield said. “In New Mexico, timberline is about 11,500 feet. If you look at all the summits in New Mexico, and in Colorado and in California, 12,000 feet is about that break-even (measurement) above timberline. It’s a good benchmark for the state and it sets the criteria for higher peaks.”

All of New Mexico’s high summits, the book states, are in the Sangre de Cristo range, running through north-central New Mexico from the Colorado line to just south of Santa Fe. The majority of those summits are within federally designated wilderness areas or wilderness study areas.

Maybe not “all.” The book hedges by listing a single exception – southern New Mexico’s Sierra Blanca, in the Sacramento Mountains, whose peak today is at 11,973. Butterfield writes that when he climbed Sierra Blanca in the 1970s, its altitude measured 1,2003 feet.

“But by any other measure, Sierra Blanca reigns supreme. This huge extrusive volcanic mountain is the southernmost mountain in the United States that shows solid evidence of glaciation,” the book states.

Some interesting facts of mountain highs are brought up. One is that in the continental U.S. only California, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming and Utah have higher summits than our state.

Flip the comparison and you learn that New Mexico’s highest point exceeds any of those in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

You may ask just what is New Mexico’s highest summit. That accolade goes to Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet.

The reference to Wheeler Peak leads to some geological info. The peak itself, Butterfield writes, “is composed of a layered gneissic material that has undergone extreme metamorphism deep underground and is about 1.7 billion years in age.”

Not all of New Mexico’s peaks are named. Readers will find the letters “un,” meaning unnamed, preceding the elevation of some peaks.

Scattered throughout the book are lessons in geology, topography, animal and plant life as well as tidbits about history, advice on trail access for hikers and the best mountain vistas for the car-bound.

Butterfield took the 134 photographs that are in the book over four decades. The earliest images he shot were in the 1970s when he used a 35mm camera. From the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, he used a medium- or large-format camera. Over the last 10 years or so, Butterfield used a digital camera.

Butterfield said he was inspired to organize this book after visiting friends in California in early 2011.

He was talking with an old guitarist-buddy. Butterfield and the friend had stopped playing together when Butterfield moved back to New Mexico in 1992.

“He announced that he got a recording deal … That got me jealous. He’s continued to play music. I stopped playing music and started photography more heavily,” Butterfield recalled.

“I think it was in response to his new band, his new music. That’s what got me off my butt and writing the book.”

In his foreword, Bob Julyan notes that a sudden rainstorm soaked Butterfield in one of his mountain hiking adventures with camera. Butterfield confirmed that he hiked in his underwear for several miles until his pants dried.

Butterfield co-authored the  2006 book from UNM Press “Mike Butterfield’s Guide to the Mountains of New Mexico.”

Mike Butterfield has these book signing events: 4 p.m. Saturday, April 19 at Alamosa Books, 8850 Holly NE; at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo , Santa Fe; at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 6 at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW; at 2 p.m.  Saturday, May 10 at Petroglyph National Monument; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 18 at Page One, 5850 Eubank NE, Mountain Run Shopping Center.

 

Advertisements