When I found out on March 19 a week long ski trip I had won in a photo contest had been rescheduled for the fourth time and was likely not happening this year, I was more than a little disappointed. Instead of shredding dreamy Kootenay powder, I was faced with a week of scrambling to find partners to ski some of the finest sun crust and isothermal shmoo the Rockies have to offer.
Well, they say everything happens for a reason, and a couple of emails later I found myself working with cinematographer Aaron Munson (http://aaronmunson.com/) and AC Scott Portingale (http://www.scottportingale.com/) on a location shoot for an upcoming documentary airing on David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things. They had been tasked with capturing the transition between winter and spring in the area, and were armed with custom made weather proof boxes to capture time lapse images over the coming months. Also in the kit was the new Sony F55 and a Kessler motion control head, used for B footage as well as repeat photography. In each of the areas we visited, this camera was set up and its position and any moves made were carefully recorded through notes, photos, and on a GPS. In the summer Aaron will return to get the exact same shots, and they will be edited together a la Life Cycles.
Since Aaron and Scott had limited off piste ski skills and no backcountry experience, a large part of my role was coaching them through the terrain we were travelling through, which included day trips to Sunshine Meadows and Helen Lake, as well as a couple overnights to Wilcox Pass and Bow Hut.
Much more exciting to me than any of the camera magic going on was seeing Aaron and Scott take in the beauty of the backcountry, and watching their skill and stoke for backcountry skiing grow over the time we spent together.
On our way up to the Bow Hut on our last trip together, Scott was moving slowly so we took our time on the approach. Once at the hut, he removed the new pair of rental boots he was wearing to reveal the worst blisters I’ve ever seen.
Despite the blisters Scott’s infectious happiness continued through the evening (with the help of two liters of wine); and though he was obviously in pain on the way down the next day, we made it safely to the car. The look of pure bliss when he took his boots off at the end of trip is something I won’t soon forget, but it still didn’t compare to the happiness evident on both their faces when we were out in the mountains enjoying some of the finest weather and worst snow the Rockies have to offer.