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.
On this ski expedition to Central Asia we chanced upon the magic world of skiing among 300m-high dunes. Two days of exposure to airborne grains of sand destroyed my camera body. It was worth it! | skier: Lloyd “Kiwi” Gallagher hotographed by: PAT MORROW where: Sand dunes, Chinese Pamir A three-day storm in the Darwin Range provided the muse for Steve to document this daily chore (and get out of shovelling duty). Two days later, Steve’s small team encountered the fi rst blue sky in 25 days of their 60-km, 37-day traverse. | skiers: Dean Wagner and Kari Medig Photographed by: STEVE OGLE where: Tierra del Fuego, Chile Chris (who skied the north face of Mt. Bryce in the Alberta Rockies last spring) leads the ice pitch on the North Couloir of Popes Peak, near Lake Louise. Jon combined his photography skills with his climbing and ski skills to get this unique angle. | skier: Chris Brazeau Photographed by: JON WALSH Popes Peak, Alberta Rockies The satisfaction of ripping the skins on a new summit is a feeling that’s hard to beat, and to photograph this moment is something that most photographers would overlook. skier: Andrew McNab Photographed by: BRUNO LONG where: Mt. Revelstoke National Park, Selkirk Mountains, B.C. This photo is from the two-week, Bugaboos-to-Rogers Pass in the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains. Part of the challenge of being a photographer is to resist the urge to be first to carve a route through the crevasses of the Grand Glacier. skier: Pete Goodier photographed by: KARI MEDIG where: Northern Selkirks,B.C. With its big terrain and easy access from the Trans-Canada Highway, Rogers Pass is a hotspot for backcountry skiers. Still, it takes a photographer’s eye to capture the essence of the perfect run. skier: Gunnar Andersson Photographed by: HENRY GEORGI where: Rogers Pass, Selkirk Range, B.C. The old photography philosophy of “f8...and Be There” cannot be understated with ski mountaineering. Being able to keep up with the group on long days while shouldering a heavy pack is key. And remembering to sometimes pause and look behind you.... Photographed by: BRUNO LONG Rogers Pass, B.C. Paul loves working with nightscapes and athletes, and had been planning this shot for three years. Luckily, his model Greg was not only willing to haul power packs and flash heads by moonlight, but to burst into frame in perfect form at the end of a 30-second time exposure. skier: Greg Hill Photographed by: PAUL WRIGHT where: McGillivray Pass, South Chilcotin Mountains, B.C. Near the end of a week of skiing from a secluded Selkirk mountain hut, Pat decided to sacrifice the last run and hang back to shoot from the up track. Adrian knew exactly where to ski “for the camera.” skier: Adrian Rothwell Photographed by: PAT BATES where: Central Selkirks, B.C.