IKONic Trip pt. 5 Rest

“Rest and be thankful”

-William Wadsworth

After the bust that was Eldora, my big trip continued on a bit of a stall. I went from Eldora to Denver where a good friend lived that I had not seen in way too long.

This was my first time sleeping in a house in 3 weeks and boy was it nice to not have to worry about getting a door knock or freezing while getting some sleep in.

We played some games, gambled a few dollars and had a good time.

A new kind of creativity

After getting caught up on computer work and getting some quality sleep and warm showers in it was time to get back into the cold mountains and thaw the camera out. And I couldn’t be more excited!

Day in The Life of a Ski Bum Photographer

“You only get one life, but if you do it right, once is enough”

This winter I went all in and spent 3 months living out of my car, taking pictures, meeting amazing people, and skiing of course. I just wanted to talk about what the day to day life was like.

Morning

My wake up time was pretty all over the place. On average I would say I woke up around 7:30 am

Waking up was always the hardest part of the day as I had to get out of my sleeping bag that seemingly just got warm and walk around in temperatures that were sometimes down below 0 °F.

After waking up I would get out my Jetboil and boil some warm water to make some oatmeal or if I was feeling really good sometimes I even made some eggs and sausage for breakfast!

Then it was off to the ski hill to meet up with the days athlete and get some epic shots

Afternoon

We were usually happy with the shots and starting to get tired around 2 pm. I usually made a quick PB&J and headed back into the nearest town to get some computer work done

On the computer I always had a list of things to do, sometimes it was editing the photos from that day and the last couple days, and sometimes it was just responding and sending emails.

But this usually lasted until around 5 or 6 pm or just till I got hungry for dinner.

Winding Down

After all that I was always tired and ready for a good meal and some sleep.

Dinner could be a lot of things, I tried to make my own food most of the time but fast food was a little too tempting some nights. Eggs were really popular, and so was instant noodles and rice. On top of that almost every dinner was followed up with a sausage link or two for “desert”.

Dinner wrapped up at 7-8 pm and it was already dark and time for bed! after reading some ski magazines and watching a YouTube video or 2 I was passed out and ready for another full day!

Behind The Shot : Tunnel Skiing

As our crew scavenges the snow patches on the Beartooth Pass for spots to build a jump we find a patch where there just might be a chance of a dream come true, as I stick my snow probe into the snow I realize this is perfect… Time to build a tunnel jump!

Driving the renovated van up the beartooth pass

June 6, 2021 Its the last day of our annual trip to ski the Beartooth Pass and we plan to end it off with a bang.

After sleeping the previous night away under the stars we are planned and ready to make this dream a reality.

But it wont come easy.

It took nearly 8 hours of shoveling snow and molding jumps till we were getting the first hits in, but boy was it worth it.

As the photographer I knew I had to capture this unique jump, I just had to figure out how…

I found a composition I was really happy with after walking around and through the tunnel for a few minutes and I knew this one had potential

I gave the athletes some time to warm up and myself some time to figure out the exact shot, then all of a sudden it lined up!

Easily one of my favorite shots of the season and I was watching it happen through my viewfinder!

As I rushed over to my friends to show it off I I knew my all encompassing shot was grabbed and I couldn’t be more pleased. My job there was complete, at least until they figure out their next crazy jump in another amazing location…

My Top 3 Summer Skiing Adventures

With summer in full force you may think its time to pack up the skis and call it a season. But that’s not what we all do, a select few choose to earn turn all throughout the year even in the hottest of summer months.

Here are some of my top summer skiing adventures!

September Powder

It may not look like much but after months of skiing ice its more than enough

September 27, 2020 The temperate drops just low enough to have a chance at skiing powder if I hike high enough, I waste no time to packing up and getting ready to head out.

It took right about 8 miles of hiking and around 5,000 ft of vert to get to the snow patches that stay year round and this means you can fully take advantage of the new snow on top!

That right there is the face of pure joy after not having skied anything but slushy ice in 5 months.

It only ended up being 2 inches or so but I couldn’t be more stoked.

Summer Resort

Beartooth Basin

High in the Mountains of Wyoming there is a small resort that opens up just for a handful of weeks a year.

This year is the first I have been able to actually ride the lift, but it was such a treat not having to hike for those slushy turns.

The Basin also has some amazing terrain right near it that is always worth the trip!

Solo at Sunrise

This was one of my first solo hikes, I went all in and was not disappointed!

Waking up at right around 4 am, I wanted to get to the summit of the peak that hosts my line by sunrise.

While I didn’t quite make it to the summit, I wouldn’t trade that sunrise for anything.

I saw some of my favorite views on that morning and that just might be one of the key hikes that got me hooked on this whole summer skiing thing.

Maybe it’s not about the skiing

Maybe its just and excuse to get out there and see new places every month. Either way I am on month 40 of skiing right now and I have no plans to stop any time soon!

Sailing Mission To Ski a Teton Classic

Like most of the best trips, it started with a simple message.

This was no small mission, we were attempting to ski one of the ’50 Classic Ski Descents of North America’ – The Skillet.

The crew of this mission consisted of Chris Burton, the Jackson Hole local that had the dream for this line

Katie Burton, Chris’s sister, always down for an adventure.

Benjamin Flook, Montana local coming down to ski the line of a lifetime

And me, the photographer. Also making the trek down from Montana

After a month of keeping an eye on the weather we finally found our window and it was time to pack up.

Getting There

Two hours into packing I felt pretty good about having everything. It seems like you never feel like you have everything on these big missions, but it was time to start driving.

Ben and I had a 4.5 hour drive ahead of us and we wasted no time in it to get over to Jackson, WY as soon as possible so we could get some sleep in before the big day.

As we got into Teton National Park we could start to see our line, and that is when the reality of the whole thing set in…

The Skillet Glacier

We were going to be skiing that

The Approach

Chris looking off at Mt. Moran

Since we were going to be skiing this line in June it was warm enough to boat across Jackson lake and hike from pretty much the base.

The boat of choice was a sail boat

Chris and Katie getting the boat ready

This was Ben and I’s first experience on a sail boat and a pretty rad one at that. But it defiantly took some getting used to coming from a state with just mountains.

With the wind pushing us along and Mt. Moran ahead we took this time to relax and mentally prepare for the long night ahead.

It only took right around two hours for us to arrive at the beach right were we would start hiking.

From there all we had to do was pack our bags and eat dinner before we began the long hike.

The sunset was to die for

The Hike

This hike was tough from the start, with a 9:30 pm start we hoped to summit right at sunrise just in time for the snow to soften a bit for the ski down.

That was the plan at least. After traversing for an hour to get around a cliff, then walking up a boulder field with bus size boulders in the dark we finally took a moment to reassess the situation and think about the reasonability of what’s ahead.

At 2:15 in the morning, not being able to find a way around the next boulder in the dark and being behind schedule to hike up in reasonable snow we made the hard decision to call it a night on the semi-flat boulder we were on. We didn’t pack sleeping bags so we just put on all the layers we could and found a comfy spot on the rock.

It’s never fun to have to make the call to turn around. But in some situations it really does save a life. The snow would have been too warm while we hiked up, on top of that the boulder field of an approach before the glacier was taking far too long to navigate safely in the dark which only made the situation worse.

On the bright side, we did get to wake up to a stunning and very unique sunrise with Jackson lake below us.

And we didn’t let the trip be a total defeat. We managed to find a couple large snow patches around for us to take a shred on and get our June turns checked off.

And just like that it was time to head back down to the boat.

The crew ready to start the down hike

Heading back

The down hike was significantly better being able to see and now knowing how to get around the massive cliff below.

And luckily it wasn’t very eventful either. We just trudged right the way down

Seeing the boat on the shore line after hours of hiking was one of the best feeling ever

We took no rush to set sail after getting packed up.

The End

All in all I would and probably will do it all again, all except the not making it up part.

Here’s to next years attempt 🤞

Summer Skiing the Beartooths

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all

– Helen Keller

This week I’m going to take a quick break from talking about my big winter trip and talk about a more recent even that happened just last weekend.

If you’ve never been to the Beartooth Pass let this be your alarm saying its time to pack up and go, especially if your a skier.

Friday June 4, its 8:30pm and our crew of 5 that was supposed to set off about three hours ago, we still have that same three hour drive ahead of us.

Luckily not much later we manage to pack up and knock out the drive.

We arrive just before midnight with snow fields ahead of us and the stars above us.


The next day we have planned out to ski one of the few resorts still open in the northern hemisphere, Beartooth Basin.

With stoke high and adrenaline higher we get right to the skiing.

Lapping everything from slushy snake turns to cornices and cliffs.

After our legs couldn’t take it anymore we set off to go and find a spot to eat some dinner and call it a night


Day 2, We waste no time on day two and get right after it. The night before we had an incredible vision for a jump we have all been wanting to build for years.

A Tunnel Jump!

After many hours of shoveling and a few sunburns we finally had it complete and ready to hit.

As a photographer I had a lot of pressure to be able to capture everything that was going on in this special moment, and in the end I think I was actually able to do it.

The light, the skier, the snow, It all lined up for me to get the dream shot.


After that sesh we had to get back to the valley for work the next day! What an amazing trip that I will defiantly be thinking about all summer as the days quickly get to warmer and the snow becomes thinner.

IKONic Trip Pt.3 Eldora, CO

Ice is fun to ski

-said no one ever

After one too many frigid nights in steamboat springs I decided I had to move on to my next ski destination which was Eldora, Colorado.

Eldora was almost the polar opposite of steamboat, going from a rich ski town with huge hotels all over to a humble ski resort tucked into the back hills of Colorado.

It only took one day of pure ice skiing up at the resort till I knew I had to find other ways to pass the time up there

Lucky for me it only took a bit of searching to find a really cool spot in the woods I had all to myself for the next couple nights

The next thing I needed to find was wifi and power to work on my photos. This quest me lead to a really cool coffee shop built into an old box car. I spent many hours in there

In all reality that is pretty much all that happened in Eldora, with the skiing too miserable to justify and a nice coffee shop to catch up on my Jackson Hole photos, I just spent my days there camping in the woods and working out of a coffee shop.

IKONic Trip Pt.2 Steamboat Springs

The next leg of my car camping adventure was in Steamboat Colorado. I ended up leaving here early due to extreme cold and bad snow, but I still managed to have a good time.

After hitting below -20 °F multiple nights in a row, I leaned to never take being warm for granted.

I was sleeping with 2 coats on and a base layer inside of my -20 °F rated down mummy bag. And after all of that it was still a bit chilly.

I also learned the value of warming your ski boots up on the drive up to the hill.

It only took two miserable morning to get that one in my head.

I wish I could say the snow was worth all of this cold, but they were in a dry spell and everything was just ice.

That was until my last day where I was poking around in the trees and found a untouched pillow field.

I still have no idea why this wasn’t skied out at all as it hadn’t snowed in like a week, but I sure was glad to be able to ski something other than icy groomers.

But as soon as I skied that zone out and saw only more cold nights in the forecast without new snow I new it was time to leave.

Next Stop | Eldora, Colorado

IKONic Trip Pt.1 Jackson, WY

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, Live as if you’ll die tomorrow”

-James Dean

December 29, 2020 I just left the place I have called home for my whole life to go off and live out of my 1992 Honda Accord for the next 3 months, spirits are high.

I have decided to call it the IKONic Trip, get it? Cause I am riding at all the Ikon Pass resorts in western America. And this IKONic Trip is about to be the best 3 month of my life, and I don’t even know it yet

This journey begins in Jackson, WY

I arrive in the town of Jackson not knowing anyone or even where I’ll be staying the night. Luckily after finding a local ski shop and asking the local ski bums the let me in on the spots.

It took about the first week to figure out how this whole ski bum thing works. My sleep schedule was off, my eating was off, and I had no idea what to do with myself.

Luckily about a week in I got a random Instagram DM out of the blue

This simple DM got me connecting into the Jackson Hole community and really launched me right into full ski bum mode. I started waking up at 7 am to get those early turns, and even 5:30 one morning to get on first tram.

There are way too many fun moments to recount them all so I’ll share one of my favorite days.

It was the morning of January 6th and my alarm goes off at 5:30 am. I didn’t sleep great given that it was right around 0°F all night, but I know that in a couple hours I won’t regret this early wake up time

I arrive at the trail head of with todays athlete, Sophia Schwatz.

I am scrambling to get all my gear ready to go with my half frozen fingers, but I can’t stop to warm them up because we have a sunrise to catch.

As a photographer power poles are usually my arch nemesis, but in this case they stick out like giants and make a very cool scene.

We keep skinning along until we finally hit the saddle and then I see it, an inversion!

Coming from Montana we don’t get inversions all that much so this was extra special to me. I get my camera out and prepare capture all this moment has to offer.

As quick as the sunrise began, it dissipated into the just a simple morning sun. But somehow the day still wasn’t over! We still had a jump session ahead of us.

With a soft landing and a jump already made for us Sophia absolutely threw it down for the shots!

Now the day was finally wrapping up and I couldn’t wait to get to the computer and start editing!

Conclusion

I had way too many amazing stories to put them all in this single blog so I’ll just let a small photo gallery do the rest of the talking:

What a perfect place to start off my trip!

Fun facts

  • Number of car malfunctions: 2
  • Coldest night: -5 °F
  • Number of nights in my car: 11
  • Tim Durtchi’s photographed: 1
  • Cool people met: 9
  • Picture taken: 1.9k
  • Hot springs enjoyed: 1

That pretty much wraps up my time in Jackson, WY. I wouldn’t replace it for anything, but I had other places to explore! Stay tuned to hear about Part 2 in Colorado! *Spoiler* It only got colder

G3 Ion 12 Binding First Impressions

How could those 4 pins possibly hold anyone in?

-Every skier before they try pins

Now that I have a couple days on my new pair of G3 Ion 12 bindings I wanted to talk about some of my first impressions.

My biggest concern before using them

The number one concern I had (and most skiers have) about pin bindings in general is if they will actually hold me in when I ski hard.

Now I only have about 3 days on these skis, but I was not holding back on any of those days.

To the left you can see me dropping a 15 ft cliff on these bindings. The snow I landed on was about 3 inches of soft slushy/powdery snow with a rather hard base.

To my enjoyment when I landed, and it wasn’t a gentle landing, the skis stuck around.

Some of the things I was excited for

Before these binding, I was primarily using shift bindings. While they worked just fine for me, they defiantly have some compromise.

  • Ease of use

I really love how intuitive the Ion bindings are.

I am especially loving the ability to transition at the top of my line from skin mode to downhill without removing my skis. This was not possible with the shift bindings.

Another cool ease of use feature is the boot stopper. Its a small piece of rubber that lines your boot up perfectly with the pins.

  • A second riser

This is pretty specific to my situation coming from the shift bindings, but having that second riser is a life saver.

In Conclusion

While I have taken these bindings on some big missions already, I am sure I still have a lot to learn about them.

So far I would defiantly recommend them to anyone looking to upgrade they backcountry setup without much compromise on the downhill.

Bonus feature

A cool feature I discovered on my 3rd day was the ability to clip your poles into your bindings as shown to the right.

Simply open the pins up, make sure the back turret in in downhill mode, and place the poles into place. Then all you got to do is lock the front pins and your poles aren’t going anywhere. Pretty useful for some short walks with skis on the shoulders.