Snowbird and Brighton Shoot

Nick Rothenbush clearing a cliff at Snowbird
At the beginning of this year I had a ton of Southwest Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles from my Southwest Airlines credit card. I found that I could take trips to Salt Lake City for almost nothing so I started planning to go back and shoot some skiing. After a failed attempt to set up photo shoots in Utah in February, I rescheduled my trip for mid-March with much better success. 
I have to give props to Southwest Airlines here. I cancelled my flight in February less than 24 hours before departure and my phone conversation went like this: 
Me: “I need to cancel my flight to Salt Lake City for tomorrow.” 
Customer Service: “Ok, I will add your points back to your account. Have a great day.”
Easiest interaction with customer service ever. Try doing that with United….

I met up with my buddy, Nick Rothenbush, at Snowbird and went out exploring for the day. The snow conditions were not great, but we founds some nice cliff lines. Pretty much in general the snow was not great. The week before the Wasatch had been hit with a pretty good storm, but the week I decided to come out the highs were in the 60’s everyday. So instead of getting killer pow shots I concentrated on getting some big airs.

Brighton connected me with Treyson Allen, a snowboarder based in SLC. He immediately takes me on a hike to a bowl below Pioneer Ridge, which has endless possibilities on a powder day. But we found some really esthetic lines. 

Treyson Allen dropping in. 

The beautiful view from Preston Peak


Trying to get a good slash.

Two high school shredders, Walter Shearon & PJ Baymiller, meet me after they get out of school early. They take me all over the mountains, trying to find any hidden stashes. It’s amazing how much young guys can bounce on terrible snow. It makes me feel old that my knees can’t take it anymore. They would get some big air and land on the cruddiest crud like it was 2 feet of pow.

Walter Shearon

PJ Baymiller
There were a few stashes of fresh

Kyle Sul is a freeskier and ski base jumper. He spends his summers base jumping in Norway. He agreed to come out and see what we could get at Snowbird. Despite a subpar morning, the afternoon thaw made the snow soft enough for some great shots.

We meet up with Chris Crane and Niels Omana, friends of Treyson Allen. They are psyched to get some big air.

Chris Crane getting it clean

Niels Omana getting the grab

Kyle Sul taking off

I had a great week in Salt Lake City, but it makes me wish that Snowbird and Brighton were in my back yard. I’m loving living in Boulder, but…the access to skiing is not the greatest and the skiing is not the best. I found out first hand recently that the snowpack in the Colorado backcountry is unstable. 
It was great working with all the athletes. They really put it on the line for me. I’m psyched to shoot a lot more skiing and snowboarding next season. ANNDD hopefully we have a much better snow year next season. 

Finally Some Snow!

Last week it finally snowed in the Front Range. We’ve been looking at bare mountains for most of the winter, sourly remembering last year’s terrible snow cover. We keep doing the snow dance and praying to the snow gods, but mostly to know avail. We hear about Utah, Washington, and even Southern Colorado getting pounded by beautifully large storms, but nothing seems to come our way. But Wednesday and Thursday brought a decent amount of snow.

My buddy Leigh is out visiting to snowboard, so thursday I decided to snowboard with him and Thomas Moore. I usually ski, and I didn’t really pay attention to the snow report, so I was very unprepared for the amount of powder at Keystone. I actually hadn’t been on a snowboard in over 5 years, but it came back quite easily, though I had never been in powder before. Leigh, Tom and I stuck mainly to the woods, trying to make the most of the fresh.

Thomas Moore 

I really want to do more skiing and snowboarding photography, but I always dread bringing my full camera set up with me, mostly because of the weight. I shot all of these with my point and shoot, Canon Powershot G10. I really want to find a nice mirrorless camera to fill in the gap, something that is super light weight and can easily sit inside my jacket, but has high enough quality that people want to buy the photos. AND usability. The G10 shoots painfully slow. On burst mode it takes 1 photo every 1.5 seconds. The new Sony Alpha NEX-7 I’m looking at shoots 10 frames per second and has a shutter lag of only .02 seconds (not even mentioning the list of other great features it has). Sorry, I got distracted.

Late in the day the weather toyed with being Bluebird, but it continued to snow all morning long. Over the previous 24 hours there was maybe 8″ of fresh snow which was awesome in the trees. Tom and I decide to hike over to the South Bowl, where apparently a ton of snow from elsewhere on the mountain was getting blown. I got stuck.

Tom sitting waist deep in fresh powder. 

I got really stuck. So stuck on my snowboard that I could not move without removing the snowboard and crawling inch by inch through the powder till I got to a slope that was steep enough that gravity could overcome the resistance of the snow. I was kicking myself for not bringing my skis. Maneuvering into place to get a shot was more difficult. Enjoying the abundance of snow was more difficult. I was exhausted at the end of the day.  

But we got to enjoy the new snow.


View from my usual position….on my back. 

Gear Review: Oakley Canopy

Wearing glasses has always made wearing ski goggles uncomfortable for me. I have lots of problems with fogging and my face hurts from having the my glasses squeezed against my temples all day. When I was looking for goggles this year I looked at several different OTG (Over The Glasses) models, but most of them look like they haven’t been updated since the late 1970’s. When I found out that the Oakley Canopy, while extremely stylish, also were made to be OTG I was psyched. I wouldn’t have to look like a grandpa this year. The Canopy is a new addition to Oakley’s line of great goggles this year. 
Oakley Canopy
I do have to say that I never really imagined myself wearing Oakleys; I’ve always associated the brand with a certain type of person, one that I would like to think I am not. But maybe that applies more to the sunglasses than ski goggles. I still can’t really imagine spending $160 on a pair of sunglasses that I would lose or sit on. 
But these goggles are by far the most comfortable goggles I’ve ever worn, but perhaps that’s not saying a whole lot. I’ve never really invested good money in goggles, usually going for the cheapest I could find. For years I wore a kids goggle I found for $15 at a ski resort. I have no clue how I got my glasses in side them. And I thought fogging was just something you had to live with. Funny how technology solves a multitude of problems. 
The Oakley Canopy goggle is full of great technologies designed to enhance the user’s experience. The oversized goggle’s frame is light, comfortable, and low profile maximizing the space for the lens. It fits great around the nose, and the triple layer foam and fleece lining that keep contact with the face is comfortable all day long. Hidden spaces in the plastic of lens allow your prescription glasses to fit in the goggle without putting pressure on your temples. I’m loving being comfortable in them. The shape of the goggle and the articulating outriggers fit easily with most helmets as well (Oakley says their ventilation works better with Smith brand helmets than Smith’s own goggles).
The real technologies are in the lens. The dual lens keeps the cold air on the outside and the warm air on the inside which reduces the chance for condensation and fog. In the chance that there is fogging, the “F3 Anti-Fog” coating absorbs the moisture on the lens. Really the only problems I had with fogging were on my own glasses and as soon as I got moving the goggles brought in enough cool air to eliminate it. I should figure out a fix to my glasses fogging…
Oakley’s HD Optics keep the picture extra sharp and keeping the thickest point of the lens in the center eliminates any distortions you’d normally get with a lens this big. Oh yeah…this lens is BIG. You won’t miss any tree or mogul unless you are blinking. 
I’m psyched to be wearing these Oakleys this year.

Gear Review: Smith Variant Brim

They’ve been recommended for a while, but I didn’t really want to buy in. And every year they become more pervasive; now helmets are everywhere on the slopes. After a bad accident last year where I found myself flying through the air, screaming to myself, “PROTECT THE HEAD!” I thought maybe this is the year I should join the masses. 
What should a helmet be other than a bucket that holds your brain in when you smack something harder than your head? It should be light so you don’t think about that fact that you’re wearing a brain bucket. It should be comfortable and fit well in variable conditions, and it should keep you warm. But the Smith Variant Brim also wins on style; it doesn’t hurt that you look pretty good wearing it. 

Smith Variant Brim
Smith Variant Brim & Oakley Canopy Goggle
The Variant Brim has channels on the brim that pass air through it keeping heat from getting trapped and sending fog into your goggles. It gets its name from the vents on the top that can be opened and closed depending on how much air you want passing through the helmet. So far on days that are around 10ºF I’ve kept them closed, but I imagine it will be useful in late season. The Boa® fit system keeps the helmet fitting tight on your head, and you can change the size if you want to include a beanie underneath on extra cold days. If you’re really into your music on the slopes you can get Skullcandy ear pads to replace the standard ones.  

Overall I’m happy to wearing a helmet this year and glad to have the Smith Variant Brim protecting my noggin.