Guest photo editor: Pat Morrow
“Ski Photographer” isn’t much of a label to pin on guest photo editor Pat Morrow. One of Canada’s best-travelled mountaineers happens to be one of this magazine’s longest-contributing shutterbugs. Since his first ski assignment with Tourism Canada in the ’70s, Morrow’s award-winning work has appeared in hundreds of magazines, dozens of books, ski and outdoor catalogues, as well as ads, billboards and websites.
“Skiing in pristine locations, far from any form of mechanized infrastructure, has been my calling,” says Morrow, even prior to his setting the world record for the telemark turn from the summit of 7,500m Muztagata in the Chinese Pamir in 1981.
“Having discovered the challenges and aesthetic pleasures of backcountry skiing in the powder basins of the Purcell range near Kimberley as a teenager, I’ve been a proponent of the earn-yer-turns principle ever since.” Morrow initially used skis more to access ice and alpine climbs than to do laps. After the sleepy mountain town of Canmore became more of “a Calgary suburb,” Pat and long-time sweetheart, Baiba, pulled up roots for Wilmer, near Invermere, B.C.
Once you’ve pinned him down, it’s easy to listen to Morrow stories, including some of the hairier moments of alpine adventure. “When we set out to ski the highest volcano in eastern Russia, we discovered it was erupting…so we skied its neighbour instead, all pockmarked with icy holes made by falling ash.” Closer to home he was nearly hit by lightning at 6:30 a.m. while skiing Kokanee Glacier (southern Selkirks) in the summertime, and was bluff-charged by a grizzly on a moose kill a day after cranking turns from near the summit of Mt. Sir Sandford in the Selkirks. From “skiing” the Great Wall of China to climbing the highest summit on each continent (and skiing on four of them), Morrow’s story cup runneth over.
Says Morrow between breaths: “Whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer who’s venturing into the backcountry, you need to learn how to travel safely—good avalanche and mountaineering courses are a must, or learn from friends you trust. Equally important is that both you and your ski model need the necessary smarts to avoid earning an entry in next year’s ‘Accidents In North American Mountaineering’ journal.”
In an effort to inspire readers to get out and ski beyond the groomers, lifts and slopeside hot tubs, Morrow invited the country’s top backcountry photographers to share their hard- earned photos this issue. Enjoy more of his work at www.patmorrow.com.