My photo
Squamish/Whistler, B.C, Canada
This Blogtography is not a shameless self promotion but a way to keep in touch with folks and share my experiences of what I see and do through the eye of the lens. I feel fortunate to play a part in stoking people to get out and explore and find their own experiences no matter what they are. It really inspires me to capture a moment in time and tell a visual story. Quote- "If I only scrape a living at least it's a living worth scraping for ! " ( Dark Side Of The Lens)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Deep Winter Photo Challenge

Last month I was confirmed as 1 of 6 pro photographers invited to shoot in the “Deep Winter Photo Challenge” that took place this past week within the boundaries of the resort. Shooting began on January 12, 2013 and ended on the 14. The teams of athletes, editors and photographers then put together a slideshow presentation of 3-5 minutes to a frenzied powder hunger audience of 1300 at the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler. The event had a panel of judges that scored the show on Technical/Composition, Originality/Creativity, Theme and overall presentation.
A few of the photographers present have done similar shows in the summer time or other resorts and most had a solid game plan coming into the event. Over the past few weeks I had been brainstorming for a theme and asked a trio of rippers known as the Raging Cajuns. I met this crew over 12 yrs ago at the ski show when they had just moved out from New Brunswick.
They quickly put their stamp on both mountains skiing unlikely lines and living the Quintessential skiers dream. The Cajuns are known as: 
Dominic Melanson
 Kris Cormier
 Matty Richard

 I’ve shot with them on and off and I was always fired up to see the energy and commitment they put into skiing.


Over the years their commitment to the mountains never changed, but they all started to find their schedules were a little more hectic so the Cajuns didn’t ski together as much. I had the feeling they were stoked to devote 3 day’s of shooting and continue the Cajun tradition. We did some location scouting together and developed a plan with considerations for deteriorating snow pack and the inversion locked in. 
Day 1. We started off high in the alpine as I felt the zones that only received morning light would still hold blower powder. That ended up being a super productive day and we only ended up recylcling the lifts 1 time. 
Day 2. we had a solid look at where the trees’s were holding snow as the inversion damaged the alpine so we searched closer to the valley bottom.  We then followed instinct to find an amazing north facing pillow zone but had to keep in mind the shallow snowpack and probe landing zones for Pungy’s. We eneded the day in the alpine searching out the magical hour of light and nailed some great shots in an unlikely zone- I gotta thank the upslope winds for adding drama to the images. 
Day 3. we reviewed some missing items to complete the slideshow and ended the day a bit early on the mountain to hit some studio style shots.
My friend David Pearson arrived at my hotel and promptly started the edit for the presentation. 
www.designhousecollective.com
https://vimeo.com/45591691

David is a genius and it was amazing watching the images unfold into the best story he could pull out of the stock we collected over the day’s. He worked well into the night and we completed the show with about an hour to spare on the deadline. The only thing left now was to show up onstage for the 8pm screening and share our experiences from the previous day’s with the judges and capacity crowd. I drew the number 1 seat so my show ran 1st. Anxiety and apprehension were running a little high but it was great to see it all unfold on screen and felt I had a solid show. Before we knew it all the slideshows had ran and we were all lined up waiting for the deliberation.
All the shows took it to the next level in creativity. My feeling was I might be 2nd or 3rd but in the end I ended up out of the top 3. Looking back I feel I nailed it with the action imagery but from a storytelling perspective I think I needed to break up the action a bit in the middle and connect the Cajuns brotherhood to the audience and judges. Missed it by that much ☺ Here is my show- Enjoy. 


https://vimeo.com/57809296

Assistants-
Julie Tennock - supporting partner through all my photo obsessions !
Dan Stein

Thanks to MEC
http://www.mec.ca/Main/home.jsp
Intuition Liners 
https://intuitionliners.com
Ryder Eyewear
http://ryderseyewear.com/
Dynafit
http://www.dynafit.com

Congrats to the Photographers for inspiring:  
Russel Dalby 
Andrew Strain 
Rueben Krabbe 
Mike Helfrich 
Nic Alegre 
thanks to the sponsors:-
Whistler Blackcomb- Arcteryx -Gore-Tex- GoPro

The Following day my good friend and I Michael Horst went up into Garibaldi Park and skied off the summit of Garibaldi.. It was refreshing to lay down some turns on bullet proof ice above a huge Bergshrund ! Sometimes nothing else matters except the next turn :)
Happy Adventures..

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Coast Range- Remote Lines and exploration !

Some names modifed to protect our sensitive areas :) Well shortly after the world survived the Rapture we found ourselves with the arrival of Christmas and getting through the frenzy of those that get in their vehicle 2x a year. A couple of day's after Christmas Jon Johnston, Tobin Seagel, Kye Peterson and myself hatched a plan to leave the craziness behind and head up the Hurley Pass to explore a wild zone known as Dope Creek Spines and Billy Jean Spines. HIgh pressure and growing confidence in the snowpack meant it was time to start stepping onto some of the bigger remote lines . I had been into the Dope Spines in the past but only to shoot stills. I was fired up at the thought of stepping out onto this face and shredding this natural playground. We arrived to perfect bluebird and we all scouted our line of choice from a safe distance. The area reminds me of mini Alaska, multiple spine lines, huge spires, cornices and a fine exposed ridge walk to access the entrances. Once again Jon took charge and smashed in a boot pack that left the rest of us in the dust. I'm constantly thrown off by Jons mellow demeanor! When it comes down to getting things done, he's half finished before you can get your boots done up.
Soon we were all on top in time for the arrival of some low cloud that created some flat light. Jon and Tobin chose a steep face While Kye and I chose a splitter spine that caught my eye on arrival. Jon dropped in 1st while Tobin observed, Soon we saw Jon safely pop out 1500 below so Tobin was next up.. Once Kye and I saw Tobin in a safe zone I watched Kye work the walls of his line choice. It was pretty rad standing above him watching him work his way down because I had just watched his Sherpa's teaser segment "Into The MInd" Soon my turn came up and I chose to share Kyes start and then cross over onto my spine zone. That option alloowed me to bypass a convex roll in the start zone. The snow quality was variable, an upslope wind had pushed the snow down into some variable pockets of low density blower to stiff, supportive slabs. Overall the skiing was good, the position were top notch but certainly not conditions to point the skis fall line. 2nd lap Kye and I eyballed a chute that looked like it might be more protected from the wind. The travel was much faster in our established boot pack but the low ceiling had dropped even more. Kye and I waited on top hoping a window would open up so we could safely drop into the line.,We waited for awhile and observed Jon and Tobin close to our 1st descent. Soon after Kye decided to make a move and drop in, he quickly disappeared over the roll and I anxiously waited to see him skirt out to the rest of the crew. Shortly after I slid into the ping pong ball, white room and simply pointed it fall line and busted out some Wigley turns knowing the chute terminated in the big open bowl below. Snow qualiity was blower, visibility was nil but it really didn't matter. The steep fall line chute had me grinning ear to ear ! We grabbed a quick bite and just as I was thinking the day was over Jon was already looking off to the Billy Jean Spines.. I doubted the weather but he sensed it was going to crack. Before I knew it we were headed in that direction and sure enough, it went blue. It's hard to explain the excitement and mixed anxiety riding big lines in these remote corners. Jon is one of the most experienced big mountain riders on the West Coast so I feel pretty fortunate that I've done numerous trips and gained alot of knowledge in a short time with him. It's also comforting to know that we all have each others back out here and everyone brings some strength to the table. After about an hour skin we find ourselves on the summit of the unnamed peak and Jon is sizing up the entrance. We find a safe entry and I get my 1st look into the objective. The line is complicated with numerous spines, flutes and terrain traps. The 1st 800 feet we can see the obvious line but then it rolls into the steeper unknown. Again Jon gets at it and controls the line to a safe spot. Tobin pops in next and I soon follow.. The pow is blower and I dabble deep off the spine, staring straight down into mega terrain traps. The zone is playful but serious. Soon the 3 of us are together looking back up at Kye who is standing on the higher entrance.. He drops in and fires the main face off like it's his backyard.. super impressive on-sight big mountain skiing. The steeper finish to the Billy Jean spines go off without any drama and soon we are skinning in the dark and making our way back to the Hurley Pass.On the drive back to Pemby we discuss the next day’s mission and some are on the fence due to other commitments but Tobin and I are stoked- I’m amazed as Tobin has been hitting hard coming into this day but he does not hesitate when he mentions a zone he had been researching up in the Meager area. I had been up there a few times over the last couple of years and had some attempts at some projects so I knew whatever he had up his sleeve it would be worthy. I had heard of the zone but the only folks that had any info had only been in there to climb- Beta was --- IT'S BIG !
Next day comes fast and we are sipping some brew at “Mount Currie Coffee” and more or less enjoying the warmth and talking with folks about their adventures. We get a bit of a late start but are organized so the trip in goes off without a hitch. Tobins navigating is spot on and before we know it we are staring up the gut of one of the biggest couloirs I have seen in this range. The travel is pretty fast, Tobin’s stoke is evident by my inability to catch up to him. At times I wonder if I’m just slow or if the added weight of carrying a full camera rig does make that much difference.
As we are ascending my eyes rarely leave the west-facing wall. The sun is pounding off the rock face that holds 2 additional couloirs and shelves of snow. As far as I can tell there is no cornice so that is a relief. After about 2.5 hrs of skinning we come to the choke where we have to decide to continue or bail. We discuss some of the observations and taps on the shoulders the line was giving us and decide to bail on this route and cross over into a zone that had more of a NW aspect. The terrain is super deceiving and huge- WeWe cross some huge paths 1 at time until we arrive on a spine feature that was low angle enough to skin to a large Bench.
We have a quick drink just as the sun drops behind Plynth and we fire our skis on our back and start climbing. I would have given it 45 minutes but once again we are fooled by the scope of the wall and it takes 1.5 hours of hard charging- Tobin was on fire for the last 30 minutes and thankfully we just beat last light as we stepped into our skis. We give a good high 5 and next stop is 4000 grand below. We stop a few times in safe zones on the descent and the snow quality is blower boot top. It takes discipline not to open up into huge GS turns but on this occasion milking the run seemed like the right thing to do.
That night we cooked and brewed some awesome food and shut it down by 10 pm with the idea of getting up early to go back to the original line. We both felt really good about the idea to beat the heat and we had the added bonus of a fresh skin track so it was a no brainer. Alarms were set for 6am so it was a civil hour to get down to business. Good coffee and a few bites saw us off on our skin track and wasn’t long before we got in the groove. 1.5 hrs got us to our previous high point and transition to climbing. I had brought Jons snow ghosts so I knew Tobins payback for trail breaking was about to be redeemed..
Even with the modified crampon snowshoe it took 4.5 hrs to climb the couloir. Tobin wallowed in my path and really suffered in the last 100 feet of rotten snow. Nothing is a given in the big mountains, you have to really want it but not be blind to ambition and risk assessment. The Couloir doglegged so we were a little unsure if we would be faced with cornice- as we gained height we finally got a view of the ridge top and cornice issues were minor in nature.
We had many discussions on the climb. This day sun was not the issue but the wind was redistributing snow. The amounts were not alarming but had to be observed. A few pockets of slab had me anxious but they were short lived, and isolated. When Tobin summated we were ecstatic- we were about to ski a 5 star Coulior.
Tobin dropped in 1st and tested the snow.. I was able to keep an eye on him and the fact he went past the 1st safe zone gave me the feeling his confidence was high in what the conditions were. We leap frogged each other and the line went at almost an even 4000 ft. Definitely a huge feather in the cap and a highlight of the season. Be tough to beat this one !
Main Coulior- 4000ft- 35-45 deg

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy and Safe adventures in the New Year ! Since I signed up for Facebook I've neglected the Blog ! Well, time to get back on it for some creative updates :) Winter has started off with a bang ! Thankfully the closest we got to the forecasted Mayan Prophecy was choking on neck deep powder through Dec. I’m super excited to announce my new involvement as “Ski Mountaineer/Photographer” with “Mountain Equipment Co-Ops” new Ambassador initiative program known as the MEC Envoy Crew. I’ll join a solid cast of characters who represent in their respective adventure sport to share experiences, inspire, innovate and promote healthy living in the places that we visit. profile coming soon ! Dec has been a busy month, as the snow line dropped, plans were being hatched for ski adventures. We have some great plans for the season, more on that later. The legs are strong from a great season of mountain biking and the transition has been smooth to finding the ski legs. The snow pack has been setting up nicely, early season snow seems to create long-term stability issues but the advisories are indicating there is some strong bridging in the snow pack.
Hopefully this trend continues and we continue to ease onto onto some of the bigger lines that were missed last year. The photography end of things has been going strong. I was guest editor at “Ski Canada Magazine” in the Dec issue. I have numerous images in circulation on the editorial side and have some high profile images on the commercial end of things. Last week I was notified I will be competing in the annual “Deep Winter Photo Challenge” in Whistler. http://deepwinterphoto.com/pro-contest/ 3 day’s of shooting followed by a presentation at the convention centre will surely be one of the highlights of the winter. Stoke and anxiety are a strange mix.. Can’t wait to get at it! I’ve been busy brainstorming a storyline and it’s looking like I have a solid crew to collaborate with on this project. The ability to think out of the box and roll with whatever the environment throws our way is key. It sells out fast so check it ! Stories and adventures to follow shortly Cheers, Chris