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Hungry mountain lions, terrifying tumbles, and crazy campers

Photographer Matt Payne has seen it all while climbing Colorado’s tallest mountains

Matt Payne

Matt Payne and a friend on top of the world.
Matt Payne

Matt Payne shot this self portrait using a self-timer and a tripod from the summit of the nearly 14,000-foot Grizzly Peak near Aspen. In view are the Three Apostles, La Plata Peak, Huron Peak, and other notable Colorado Peaks in the Sawatch Mountain Range.
Matt Payne

A rare view of Pikes Peak’s south side at sunrise taken a few days after the Waldo Canyon Fire of 2012.
Matt Payne

The Elk Mountains, including the 14ers Capitol Peak, Pyramid Peak, North Maroon Peak, and Maroon Peak, as seen from the summit of Cathedral Peak at sunrise.
Matt Payne

To capture this scene, Matt Payne woke up at 2 a.m., hiked to 12,000 feet, and shot the incredible glory that is the Milky Way. In view are Vestal and Arrow Peaks, dwarfed by the night sky.
Matt Payne

After three straight days of climbing mountains in Colorado with 30 pounds of photography gear, Matt Payne summited Colorado’s sixth highest mountain, Uncompahgre Peak, just before sunrise after a 3 a.m. start. There was significant haze and smoke in the air from forest fires in the Pacific Northwest which contributed to the colorful light at sunrise.
Matt Payne

Sunset glow at Capitol Peak west of Aspen.