Above: Mt. Diamond backdrops Eli Sturm as he skies down a couloir in Thompson Pass, where the scenery and snow are world class.
The 2,805 foot Thompson Pass pass is outside the coastal town of Valdez, and averages more than 550 inches of snow per year. Skiers and snowboarders travel from all over the world to make turns in Thompson. Copious runs are accessible right off the road, while endless mountains provide the potential for extended excursions.
My friend Eli and myself made the six hour drive south from Fairbanks last Saturday for two very full days of riding. We mostly used climbing skins — directional skins you attach to the bottom of your skies to ascend mountains.
On the first day we skinned about 4.5 hours, climbing roughly 4,000 feet, to the top of a couloir, a steep narrow gully on a mountain. The result was some of the best and most scenic riding of my life.
Descending towards Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass with spectacular snow.
A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.
I’ve been posting photos from a recent road trip, which fits perfectly with the weekly photo challenge, “on the move.” This iteration is going to travel a large distance, between Vancouver, BC and the Oregon coast.
All the pictures show movement somehow – often other people in their daily routine dotted throughout pictures.
So here’s round three of iPhone pictures. I also find my iPhone is very handy while on the move – small, very quick to access camera and also very quick to share. Soon I’ll be back to my posts about Europe.
Church backdropped by skyscrapers in downtown Vancouver, Canada.
Truck towing a truck with a truck on the bed. Not pictured: a truck towing all three.
Rotating bridge on what I believe to be the Columbia River.
Taking the brewery tour of one of my favorite brands, Deschuettes Brewery.
Florence Beach, Oregon coast.
Climbing sand dunes on the Oregon Coast
Icy and windblown conditions on Mt. Bachelor, Oregon.
Stunning scenery, helicopter-like views and spectacular snowboarding on sometimes treacherous terrain are just a few of the experiences I was fortunate enough to have in Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler and Blackcomb are two mountains in the town of Whistler, where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. It is one of the premier skiing destinations in the world, with good reason.
Thanks to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which features the worlds longest unsupported span, almost two miles, and the worlds tallest lift at 1,427 feet, Whistler and Blackcomb are the worlds largest continuous lift system. The amount of accessible terrain is insane.
Snowboarding in Whistler is an experience I will never forget, and hope to have again soon.
Note: These were all shot with my iPhone, I have GoPro media I hope to edit soon, but realistically may not.
Looking towards Whistler Mountain at the start of the more than 2-mile long Peak 2 Peak.
Hard living in a spectacular condo après-ski.
The gondola’s shadow sits in majestic scenery, a group a skiers barely visible.
Skiing and strange trees on Whistler.
Sun illuminates snow blowing off a cornice.
Roughly 1,400 feet in the air on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.The only comparable view would be from a helicopter.
Shredding the backside of Blackcomb.
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.