Jumbo in MLA

A story I did with Andrew Findlay and Chad Sayers last spring for the Mountain Life Annual is available to view at the following link:

http://www.mountainlifemag.ca/2015/02/really-big-problem-continuing-saga-jumbo-glacier-resort/

I recommend the glossy magazine if you can get your hands on one! Lots of interesting stories in there.

Posted on 02/05 at 06:18 PM | Comments

T and T

Trinidad and Tobago are two small Caribbean islands and a single nation located only a stone’s throw from the South American mainland.

The vibrant islands, though themselves differing in character (Tobago has that “island feel” whereby Trinidad is bustling and party-crazy) are united by their natural beauty and the charisma of their residents.

During a recent trip guiding and shooting for Eagle-Eye Tours the group had an extended stay at Asa Wright Nature Centre, spent a magical two hours at Caroni Swamp, and visited the turquoise bays of Little Tobago, a small island decorated with gaudy seabirds. Below are some photos. I highly recommend these islands if you’re looking for relaxation, adventure or both!
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Emperor butterfly
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Craning for cranes?
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Entering the Oilbird cave, Asa Wright
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Outcropping in the aptly-named Blue Waters Bay, Tobago
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Several thousand Scarlet Ibis roosting in Caroni Swamp
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Fisherman with a day’s catch

Posted on 01/30 at 02:22 AM | Comments

Ma Chile

In Chile they drop the ‘s’ at the end of words, or pretty much anywhere in a word, so instead of “mas” for more, they just say ma. Well, here is MORE CHILE. As luck (or circumstances, as I tell my family) would have it, I’ve spent more time in that incredible country in 2014 than at home. I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to catch up on the blog here.

In any case, I just returned from my third trip down there, mainly to Patagonia. The first was a family trip (scoring some points there), the second was the former posting’s ill-fated ski trip (details tba but it didn’t go too well!), and the third I’ve just returned from- a birdwatching and photo tour. In the latter, our group traveled from the bottom in Tierra del Fuego to the top in Arica- a distance of over 3000km. Needless to say, the variety of landscapes and habitats are mind-blowing down there. The people are so friendly too.
Here are a few pics!

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Chasing down a puma (photo by Rodrigo Reyes)

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The straights of Magellan

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Torres del Paine National Park

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My favourite bird: the Chucao Tapaculo!

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Northern Royal Albatross

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A woman in Socoroma, a town near the altiplano spreads guano on her maize crop

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The backdrop of Arica: the Atatacama desert as viewed from the bus

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Parque Nacional Lauca, a place I had passed through nearly 15 years ago with a backpack and altitude sickness

Posted on 12/05 at 03:48 PM | Comments

Volcanes Chilenos

I’m in Coyhaique, Chile, getting ready for an expedition with two of my friends: Chad Sayers and Kari Medig.

In a couple of days we’re departing a small town called Puerto Cisnes by kayak, and hoping to climb three volcanoes in the vicinity: Cay, Maca and Mentolat. We’ll use a river to access the first two and just a plain old rainforest slog for the third one. We should be upwards of three weeks on the trip and are hoping for quite the skiing adventure, even though not a lot of actual skiing will be involved. It’s not the destination- it’s the journey, right?
Stay tuned for more details when we get out…

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Posted on 09/14 at 01:35 PM | Comments

Moonlight

I had the good fortune to join a ski and binding test for Moonlight Skis out of Norway. The destination was Stelvio Pass, Italy, a lift-accessed zone in the eastern Alps notable for its 6000’ winding access road that opens up in late May. The summer-only ski area accommodates racing teams, some random skiing tourists, and people like us. For an R&D trip it was quite fun, with thirty or so telemark skiers gathering to try out a new binding and other snow-worthy equipment. Here is a brief slideshow from the four-day trip:

Posted on 07/10 at 04:49 PM | Comments

Push bike

We’ve been having fun on the bikes lately. June is a great time to ride in the Kootenays since the rain showers keep the trails nice and buff.

Casey and I made a foray to nearby Trail (great name for a town!) to check out yet another addition to the local network of sweet singletrack. This was his first time on a real dirt trail but he took this corner with deft inside foot control just like the pros. So proud of this guy, just for wanting to get out and explore. Another photo taken with a baby on my back… there’s a good slideshow of these! But it won’t last for long because these boys are growing quickly.

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Posted on 06/13 at 03:50 AM | Comments

A Jumbo Problem

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A proposed mega-resort targeted for Jumbo Glacier in the Purcell Mountains just east of where I live has been a war zone for over twenty years. October 6th, 2014 marks a deadline that will spell victory for one of two factions: Environmentalists, First Nations, wildlife managers and self-propelled recreationists; or government-backed developers and their ambitious plans for a four-season European-style ski resort in the middle of British Columbia wilderness.

This would be, if the entire plan comes to fruition, by far the largest ski resort in North America. Presently lacking financial backing because of the giant scope and quite preposterous logistics, the proponents (Jumbo Glacier Resort, Inc.) must break ground this summer or forfeit environmental permits that are too costly to repeat. A ghost jurisdiction established at the proposed village site has gone as far as seating a mayor who currently presides over zero residents, yet this municipality receives $200k annually from provincial taxpayers. The majority of these citizens are against the resort. Nearly 6,000 beds would be built in what is now one of the most remote and scenic valleys in southern British Columbia.

Backcountry skiers in the East Kootenays especially are uniting against this initiative because Jumbo is their one and only relatively easily accessed powder stash. Meanwhile, a pervasive sentiment among mainstream skiers is “I’m against it, but I’d probably ski there.”

Most call it a huge error in judgement and foresight and a waste of taxpayers’ money. A select but persuasive few however, see it as a massive opportunity.

I went in there a couple of weeks ago to test the slopes for an upcoming article in the Mountain Life Annual coming out in July. Here are a few images from that trip where we scored mid-winter conditions in the final days of April:

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Special thanks to Chad Sayers, Bren MacKenzie, Brett Eyben, Dave Quinn, Pat Morrow, Grant Costello, Leslie Anthony, Andrew Findlay

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Posted on 05/28 at 09:15 PM | Comments

Family road trip- VIDEO

The trip odometer reads 6,200km and the calendar says we’ve been five weeks in Chile and Argentina. It’s been a long road beginning in Santiago and will be over in less than two weeks from now. It’s a family road trip! Right now we’re in Bariloche, Argentina.

The best and worst thing about being a photographer is that you’re almost always working. Given a family vacation, it’s inevitably also work. You can’t pass up the opportunity to photograph gauchos herding sheep off Ruta 40. You can’t possibly deny the merits of spending two weeks’ of hotel budget to fund an hour’s flight for aerial pics. Thankfully, I’m the luckiest man alive with my wife and kids being so supportive and up for the adventures. It’s getting to the point where the kids are the ones inspiring the next exploit and I just tag along for the ride, snap a few pics and later on pay for the trip, or not. This time we’ve been fortunate again to have some support from Patagonia, whose editors are confident enough we can bring home some great lifestyle and family adventure images.

Amy’s folks are visiting here in Bariloche and I’m trying to put together a slideshow to show them what we’ve been up to for the past five weeks. If it’s good enough for the in-laws it’s good enough to show the world at large. Enjoy!

 

 

Posted on 03/21 at 01:28 PM | Comments

Antisana

About a month ago (time flies!) two friends and I left the snowy hills of British Columbia and we ended up in the snowy hills of Ecuador.

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These hills are quite a bit bigger. Volcan Antisana, at 5740m, rises to the east of Quito and its eastern flanks break away into the Amazon. This leads to adverse weather and thick glaciers plastered with crevasses for which the mountain is notorious. It’s a long story, but we ended up going with a guide (new Ecuadorian regulations dictate a guide is needed for major peaks) and we found Ramiro from Ecuadorian Alpine Institute. He has a sweet set of old Dynastars hanging in his office and was happy enough to dust them off for the trip. It turns out if we didn’t employ Ramiro for this adventure we’d likely still be out there somewhere, lost on the mountain. First, we passed through three checkpoints on the way into the National Park- each checking for proper credentials. Ramiro knew the guys personally. Secondly, Ramiro’s suped-up, Scooby-Do-like 4wd van was likely the only vehicle in Ecuador that could handle the access road to the scenic camping area at 4700m. Lastly, Ramiro had climbed Antisana around 50 times (he’s climbed Chimborazo 150 times and Cotopaxi over 350 times!); this meant he knew the ever-changeable route to the summit. He’s also a really cool guy.

The story will come out in Powder Magazine next year so you can read some details there. I don’t usually like to say too much about assignments but I’m happy to report that we made it to the summit after one pre-scouting day, and a grueling summit day that involved stunning weather (a rarity), a labyrinth of crevasses and a comedy of performances that had our lowlander tongues licking the snow on the ascent. On the way down, Ramiro took up the caboose position but he doggedly skied all the way back to the base, stopping only to boot-pack the difficult sections. He was so happy to have helped a relatively savvy group to the summit and we were equally ecstatic to have laid down first tracks on the volcano, followed by our determined guide.

After the descent it began to snow at our basecamp. I’ll never forget the fat flakes landing on the tent, while we relaxed only a short distance away from the equator.

Thanks to Cam Shute and Andrew Findlay for joining me on this trip. It was a long approach guys, so-to-speak, but in the end it paid off. I think we’ve redefined “weather window.” Also, thanks to Mountain Equipment Co-op for the support on this trip, which nearly rivaled that provided by our loving families!

One final word: I highly recommend skiing the volcanoes of Ecuador! Stay tuned for more about this story.

 

 

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Posted on 12/31 at 07:17 PM | Comments

Ecuador family trip

For the next couple of months I’ll be living in Ecuador with my family.

We’ll be on the in Mompiche, a beach town in Esmeraldas province. Our main objective is to drop off the map and focus on family but there will be a few work trips here and there such as some volcano skiing and rainforest photography. In the meantime, however, I’ll be working on making the perfect blender drinks and building sand castles with the kids. We’ve got a great surf break out front nobody else in sight. Stay tuned for more updates from this and other equatorial adventures! You can also check our family blog at Steve and Amy’s adventures.
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Posted on 11/24 at 01:49 PM | Comments

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