The Summit without Us

I’m sure many of you that read this site have been out exploring the summit at sometime and thought, “What would the summit look like if humans had never discovered it?”. Of course, everyone is familiar with at least some of the storied past of the summit area (visit the Donner Summit Historical Society to find out more). The summit has been a transit route through the Sierras as long as humans have been in the area. There have been many different human ventures in the area over the years from ranches to dams and today it is a recreation destination with relatively large vacation communities. It is pretty hard in this day and age to go anywhere on the summit and not see some sign of civilization such as a road, a cabin or a ski lift.

As a photographer who has been photographing the summit area for many years, I am keenly aware of the intrusion of signs of civilization in the natural setting of the summit. I have spent a lot of time in post processing my images with photo software to remove unnatural things like power lines or microwave antennas that can really ruin the natural feel of the summit. In this post I thought it would be interesting to push the post processing removal process even farther to completely remove any signs of human habitation from some images of the summit area. Everyone has seen then and now comparisons of old black and white photos of the early summit area with current color pics of the summit. Most of these black and white images are low quality and black and white doesn’t really do the summit justice. The images shown in this post, however, are full color high resolution images that really try the answer that question posed above, to show what the summit would look like today if we just weren’t here.

You may recognize the first image as the masthead image for this site. Without the iconic rainbow bridge the summit looks quite different.

Click on pic for larger image

Here is the pass from the other side.

Click on pic for larger image

This view from Crow’s Nest shows what the summit would look like without Sugar Bowl and Donner Ski Ranch.

And here is a view from Soda Springs ski hill with no Soda Springs.

And how about a look around lake Dulzura at Serene Lakes during a winter without people. (Best viewed full screen)

360 pano of snowy Lake Dulzura at Serene Lakes in Donner Summit area

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2 Responses to The Summit without Us

  1. Louise Burns says:

    I love the old/new photos of Donner Summit. Rainbow Bridge seems made for that notch in the mountains. I really missed it the two years it was under construction. And how happy I am that the replacement matches the original. Keep up your interesting postings. Thanks.

  2. Peter Wiley says:

    I really enjoy looking at and reading your posts and photos of the summit and area, etc. Keep up the good work.

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