27 January, 2011

Behind The Ski Mountaineering Photoshoot

With the main part of the season going, and being at the point that we are feeling fit enough to start getting after some real objectives, a quick break in the training schedule is nice.  So with a bit of stability and the morning off, I decided to head out with photographer Vince Shuley for a quick ski mountaineering photoshoot.  The goal was to shoot some photos climbing couloirs, as the light was far too flat for skiing photography; tight couloirs gave definition and contrast to the photos.  Along with us came Zack Wasson, to climb with me, and Tom Rourke to help assist Vince while shooting.  (Photo Below:  Zack Wasson climbing through the squeeze at the bottom the Couloir we were shooting.)

We pointed out sites up Blackcomb, heading up the East Col, and down the Spearhead Glacier to Phalanx Peak.  Phalanx was perfect for the morning, it was close, had a number of couloirs with variations which were not skied as often, and better lighting as we climbed on eastern aspects.  To get the shot we needed, we planned on splitting up, and climbing two seperate couloirs to reach the top.  Tom and Vince headed up the Stairmaster Couloir, and Zack and I headed up a twisting diagonal couloir which probably doesn't get much traffic if any at all.  Our line finishes in a dead end cliff, with a bit of exposure and rocky bench to climb through, perfect for what Vince was shooting.

Climbing through great snow to sugary snow covering rocks, we got to our position, and stayed where we were to climb up from in order to give Vince and Tom a chance to setup.  The shot wasn't easy to get, as Tom had to lower Vince over a large granite cliff, standing on the edge leaning over and shooting down.  Although this wasn't a large ski mountaineering objective, it still had all the elements.  Standing on an awkard perch with exposure, while you wait for your partner to finish climbing a pitch, and shivering from the spindrift blowing in your face.  (Photo Left:  Vince above on belay shooting Zack finishing the rocky section of the Couloir.)

Finishing up at the top of Phalanx, Zack and I dropped in on our Couloir, skiing down to a spine where we could all re-group.  Vince even managed to shoot some photos of Tom skiing down the Couloir they took down.  A productive day, and stoked to have gotten the shots we needed, we split as I needed to be at work for the evening.

Vince's Photography Site:  www.vinceshuley.com

The Finished Product (Photo: Vince Shuley, Skiers:  Alex Wigley (right), Zack Wasson (left))

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