Every Friday I will be posting a Photo of the Week. Here I’ll be sharing the details on how I got the shot, where I was, and the backstory that went into it. I hope you find this enjoyable, and helpful in your own photography.
I love this photo, for many reasons which I’ll get into. First, this shot was taken on June 1. I’ve never skied as much as I have this year, and the further we get into the year on skies, the more stoke I have for it. And my excitement pails in comparison to the man we met on the summit. But first, let me explain.
My buddy Mike (skier in photo), travels to Chicago during the week for work, so when he gets back to Utah he wants to get after it. The day before he asked if I wanted to ski in Little Cottonwood Canyon. And after waking up to a gnarly storm system, we headed down from PC and up LCC. We reached the parking lot at Alta around 8:30AM. Looking at the peaks above, trying to determine which lines looked the best, we decided against skiing Flagstaff and instead pointed up to Mt. Baldy. Yes, we skied up the resort, but getting to the summit was anything but a day in the park.
After climbing the 2K vert, just as dark clouds began to roll in, we came upon another skier on the summit transitioning to skiing downhill. He asked for me to take his picture, and then we got talking. This was his 27th straight June 1st touring up to the summit of Mt. Baldy. This man was 65 years old. Think about that. Not only has Utah had the snow conditions to make this possible for 27 years straight, but that he’s been doing this since he was 38. That is one incredible tradition. Normally, he’s accompanied by friends, but due to the storm, his friends all bailed on him. My buddy Mike said, “Man… when I grow up, I want to be just like you.”
As we continued our transition, and slapping my sticker on the weather pole on the summit, we clicked back into our skis just as it started snowing. Yup, snowing on June first. Granted, we were over 11,000′, but still pretty rad. We headed off the round summit and followed some tracks to Main Chute. On the way up, we watched two skiers navigate their way down the main chute on the Northeast face of Baldy. The chute looked much wider from where we stood than on our approach. It had to be 20-25ft wide the whole way down.
I’ll be honest, I did not have much confidence in my skiing. I hadn’t skied hard since April (early April at that), and all my skiing since has been cruiser runs off Empire Pass or at the drying up Park City ski runs. But after committing to the first few turns, my ski legs were coming back. I skied 30yds down into the chute when I stopped and waved Mike to come down. I quickly pulled my iPhone camera out, hoping to get a video, when my gloves wouldn’t swipe the screen to switch modes. I quickly flipped my phone to portrait mode and began snapping photos as mike passed me.
I could tell I got a good photo after seeing the preview for a brief moment. The composition was great, better than I could have ever hoped under those conditions. Skier in the foreground, off-centered. The Chute walls separating the foreground from the mountains in the background. And the overcast sky creating even light and not overexposing the shot or pulling attention away with a bluebird sky.
The second reason why I love this photo is because of the experience getting up and down. The tour up the ridge was difficult and steep, the snow on the descent sucked, and all the while, I forgot sunglasses. The third and final reason why I love this photo is because of the cliche, “The best camera is the one you have on you.”
Sure I would have loved to bring one of my DSLRs or even a GoPro, but due to the chaotic weather window we had, I didn’t want to risk ruining anything. So I just pulled out my trusty iPhone and snapped a few photos. And guess what, it didn’t matter to either of us that I didn’t have a real, big camera for that shot!