Above: A quiet and foggy beginning to the 2013-2014 season at Skiland. December 7, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
December 7, 2013, marked the start of the downhill season at Skiland – the farthest-north chairlift in North America. Opening day is often a mad dash; wake up after a party; corral people, some gear, and grub; then try to get there for first run at 10 a.m., because last run comes quick at 2:30 p.m.
This year was relaxed, waxed boards the night before and went to bed at a reasonable time. The next day lots of clouds made visibility difficult, but unseasonably warm temperatures – over 10 degrees fahrenheit – complemented a snowpack that hide reasonable numbers of rocks!
Not much lifts the spirits in dark and typically cold December then an early opening at the downhill. Here’s a few examples of rapidly-changing light from the chairlift.
Sitting in a cloud, prepping for the second run of the season.
Visibility remained elusive, even worsening as the morning progressed – 10:42 a.m.
By 1:58 the sun was in decline, and direct sunlight had all but passed.
With one hour left to snowboard, at 1:48 p.m., the sun had broken some clouds – revealing spectacular scenery.
First things first: A huge shout out to my friend and fellow (former) Fairbanks resident, Luke Smith, who is the skier in this weeks National Geographic Extreme Photo of the Week. Photographer Ryan Kruger captured Luke skiing Frazier Basin, Bridger Range, Montana.
Here’s the image, click the link above to see the full story. I especially like the delay between the initial viewing and noticing the skier, and of course, the monochromatic image.
photo by Ryan Krueger
Photographing skiing and snowboarding is a very delicate balance for me. Often my love for snowboarding overpowers my desire to take photos on the hill. It’s easy to worry about my camera, ducking under and squeezing through trees at Skiland, where I ride, and the fartherst north chairlift in North America.
I am becomming more comfortable with it though. The hardest part is forcing myself to be less agressive while riding.
While neither of my photos offer the extreme enviornment of Krueger’s, they have their own qualities. Both with a strong sense of light, the Sun peeking out behind my friends Nils and Nick in the first, illuminated hoar frost on the lift in the second. The first image is also a pan shot, my movement, parallel with the subjects, keeps them in focus while blurring the background.
Nick and Nils gather speed for the traverse at Mt. Aurora Skiland.
Hoar frost and an Alyeska sticker on a chilly, early morning chairlift ride.