A blog about the great outdoors, photography, and not taking yourself too seriously.

Hitting the (litterally) dusty trail

Self assigning is fun. I recently decided to go out and follow some trad climbers for an evening in Squamish (photos below). It went well! So I then self-assigned myself a photoshoot in Whistler Blackcomb's bike park. I'll tell you all about it after I finish my newest self-assigned project; eat this entire cheesecake by myself.

Why do I talk about self-assigning so much? It's because outdoor photography (and actual paid work in the field) requires you to have a good portfolio, filled with great images companies might want. Makes sense. Problem is, competition is a thing. Established photographers get a huge advantage when applying for shoots because they already have a huge amount a material; they've been at it a lot longer (And are therefore a lot better at it).

This means you somehow have to reach a high level of skill and build a huge collection of images showcasing your talents, without profiting from all that work. It's a huge gamble. You have to really like shooting photos and be very motivated for all of this to even make sense. 

Or you have to be dumb.

I'm definitely one of the above, so I went out to Whistler and shot all day, got stalked by a bear and managed to escape with only 4 of my limbs. Many thanks to the guest relations department of Whistler Blackcomb for hooking me up with lift tickets. The images showcased below would not have been taken if they hadn't been so nice.

Stormy skies and foggy air; I was hoping for that weather to hold, but sadly, the sun came out. Dumb ball of fire, ruining all the fun.

The 11-24mm shines when it comes to showing the scale of a place. It emphasizes the curves and open air of the park nicely, while remaining one of the sharpest wide-angle lenses I ever used.

Another perk of an ultra-wide lens: you can get real close to the action. A little too close sometimes.

You pick up the lingo real fast when shooting in a bike park. For example, this jump is gnarly sicknasty rad.

You pick up the lingo real fast when shooting in a bike park. For example, this jump is gnarly sicknasty rad.

I wanted the riders to be a small part of my photos. Putting the emphasis on the mountain and the loaded skies was more important to me than showing someone riding a bicycle.

I wanted the riders to be a small part of my photos. Putting the emphasis on the mountain and the loaded skies was more important to me than showing someone riding a bicycle.

A nice, steep technical section. The photos don't show the speed at which riders navigate the terrain; it's insane.

Warm sunny day are not for everyone...

... and specially not for me. I melt in sunny days. My poor canuck scalp burns like an unattended pancake, and I sweat horribly. It's very dramatic.

Contrary to what this opening paragraph says, this article is not about my fair and perfect complexion

Sun's also not great for mountaineering (or mountain photography, as Angela Percival would tell you). Under warm conditions, snow becomes soft and the postholing is real. Postholing, of course, is the least of your concerns when collapsing snow bridges and slides are an option. Unfortunately, I was part of a BCMC group that had the ambition of climbing Mount Baker, so the sunny forecast was mildly depressing (It's Always Sunny in the PNW apparently). We decided to be bold and give it a shot anyway. 

Loaded packs and creek crossings are a recipe for twisted ankles. Luckily we had mad skillz. Note the professional coil job on Lea's rope.

The approach through thick brush and rushing melt water was figuratively a breeze. It was warm, sweaty, wet and confusing; as we learned on the way, a massive slide had wiped out most of the creek crossings, and we had to improvise new ones. Snow, ironically, only provides short relief. In my case, it only cooled off my ankles while reflecting sunlight, giving me a rare case of the sunburn-under-the-bridge-of-my-nose.

Practicing my hand at  alpine portraits. In here, Jill looks at nothing in particular while I admire the curve of my lens in her glasses. She also is rocking a coil job worth admiring.

The perks of this kind of weather? This is the comfiest camp I have slept at in a very long time. Dry ground, nice exposed trees for the hammock (orange chrysalis at the far right) and a warmth that makes you angry you trekked your sleeping back up to 5000 feet.

An extra early alpine start was complemented by nice views of Hera's mess. I requisitioned a handy tree trunk as a makeshift tripod and shot away. The resulting shots may not be as sharp as the ones taken using a sturdy tripod, but there's no way I'm hauling 10 extra pounds of gear.

I'm used to catabatic winds that freeze you, winds that you have to shield against using a strong Arc'Teryx Alpha SV 100D Denier includng new zipper design (I don't have a sponsorship from them, but I'm practicing. See how I casually slid that placement in the article? Soon I'll either be rolling in it, or I'll be editing the post at the request of their PR team).  Not that time. We woke up to a warm, weird wind coming from the col. Ever stuck your face in a hands drier? I haven't. But I imagine that's how it feels.

Climbing up the Easton Glacier by headlamp. Note the slushy snow and deep prints; alpine starts are meant to avoid those issues. Encountering them this early is a bad sign.

The weather proved way too warm for any serious attempt at the summit; we had to settle for a gorgeous sunrise instead. What a bummer.

Noping out of the glacier. Making your way down after a failed summit attempt is always a little depressing, but with temperatures like these, better be safe than sorry.

Settling in for a beautiful sunset. Not as fun as a summit but at least no one died. Which is fine.

Failed summit attempts are usually accompanied with a morale, about how failure doesn't define you and how adversity is the biggest ally you can have in your quest for personal growth.

Screw that. We're all adults here. 

The one thing I would like you to take away from this trip report is this: when you go back through Sedro-Woolley, stop at that little nameless diner on your right. Portions are huge and pancakes are cheap. 

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