I love Joe's work too. I find a few a little 'cold' but we must consider what he is trying to do and the breadth of the country he has to cover. I feel his genre is very much what Ansel Adams would have done were he a Brit shooting colour! Both are committed to the wilderness and the conservation thread represents a common purpose thru Yosemite and the Nat Trust respectively. Many of Joes images are sublime and really 'do it for me'.
I love this image for all the reasons you do, but he has others which I prefer still by quite a margin.