Snowflakes, freezing rain. Hail, sleet. Icy winds, Montana’s mountains wrapped in wet storm clouds. This week, summer ended. I don’t think I’ve ever been this cold in September, and that’s saying something—I’m from Michigan.

Moisés on his way down from the summit of the Middle Teton.

We’d headed up to Montana because Moisés was to run The Rut, a technical 50-kilometer race in the mountains around Big Sky. Run the Rut he did (finishing top ten!) but on race day, the weather was rough. The course’s famous climb—Lone Peak—was thus chopped from the route.

So, we stuck around a few days until the weather cleared, and took a crack at the peak ourselves. After getting the go-ahead from the Big Sky mountain safety team, we went up. The route was rocky, icy, and snowy up to our thighs. That morning in town, the base was sunny and hot. But the peak was a different story. It felt like the inside of a snow globe—so cloud-covered that you couldn’t see anything but the ground in front of you, so dripping-with-icicles that I actually laughed. It felt like something that Disneyworld had engineered: get on the ride in the beating sun, and out of nowhere you look around and you’re on the North Pole.

The top of Lone Peak. Big Sky, Montana.

After leaving Montana, we spent the rest of the week in Grand Teton National Park. The days were sun-soaked, the nights icy. The windshield froze, my bathing suit froze. We drank coffee in the cold, dewy mornings and watched the sunrise peak over the mountains. We explored Jackson and we swam in the river. We scrambled through 20 miles of the Tetons, and we finished that day with burgers and beer in the back of the car. We found bear prints on our trunk, we watched a fox hunt for his dinner in our campsite. We played all week in the Tetons, in the sun and the cold and the wind and the extremes.

A freezing morning, a frozen swimsuit.

Throughout the last four-odd years, I’ve always found myself up in the mountains while photographing assignments. In one way or another, I always managed to drag myself + photo gear up to wherever I needed to be. It’s been a pretty laughable solo suffer-fest at times. But in the last year and a half, I’ve put a lot more work into improving my own running/mountain-related abilities—because the challenge is appealing, I’ll admit that, but mostly to become a better photographer in my field.

This process is not easy. I still suffer, especially on anything uphill. (Again. I’m from Michigan.) But over time, I’ve started to settle into a rhythm. I’ve found a place of peace—or maybe it’s a form of meditation—that comes when you’re pounding uphill. I think a lot of people run because we like the temporary clarity of mind. You’re running, you’re not doing anything else. For me, learning to move in the mountains? I think it’s like the upgraded version of that focus. A different breed of runner’s high.

Going up Lone Peak. Big Sky, Montana.

So, I guess my point is this. I could submit these photos with casual captions, and try to play it off like it’s not a big deal for me to be running in/up/through these mountains. I could just…not address it. Part of me is tempted to do that, maybe because of our social media gut-instincts. “Ah yes, here we are in the Tetons. This is natural for me.” But it’s not, and I won’t. That wouldn’t be fair to me, or to the mountains, or to any photographer looking to get into this industry.

Learning to respect the mountains, and to respect the work it takes to explore them. That’s the update for this week, next week, and all the weeks after.

Scrambling up the Middle Teton. Photo: Moisés Jimenez.

Part 4 of a 6 part series