For many years, I’ve struggled with fatigue. Having the energy to do anything, to say nothing of getting enough exercise is at times very, very hard. This struggle over time has led to a rather difficult chapter in my life where depression rears it’s ugly head on a consistent basis.
Some of the coping mechanisms I’ve developed probably aren’t so healthy, but the one of the most effective methods I have for dealing with the physical and mental pressure I feel, has been to combine two of my most favorite things in the world: ski-touring and photography. These twin passions of mine have proven over that last few years to be instrumental in keeping me focused and positive in body, mind and spirit.
What I’d like to do now is share a few of my favorite photos that I’ve taken while ski-touring along with a few words that describe the difference they’ve made in my life.
THE PHOTOS AND THE FEELINGS
When I look at this image now, all I can think about is the raw elemental power of nature. On the day the photo was made, I was at the apex of my ski tour, taking a few moments to rest and enjoy my surroundings. I was a safe distance away from the cornice to my right and I sat there in the snow transfixed at the wind that was pounding the cornices above me. I wish I would have had a microphone with me to record the sound of the storm.
Having made this image almost two years ago, it remains to this day one of the most intense and rewarding photographs I have in my archive. It is a powerful reminder of the ecstasy of being in the alpine.
This image has pretty much everything that entices me when I’m ski-touring: light, shadow and weather-shaped snow. The details and textures are endlessly fascinating to photograph. The slow pace of ski touring makes it ideal for noticing these kinds of details in the snow. It’s a challenge I enjoy, keeping my eyes open for these natural examples of beauty.
Watching my dog endlessly contort her body as she tries to attack the snow I throw always makes me smile. She’s a great touring companion, although her relatively short legs make for some humorous moments when she breaks through the crust and gets hung up in deeper snow.
It never ceases to amaze me how fascinated I am with such a simple scene as this. Through some sort of magic, being out on my skis has grown in me a strong sense of appreciation and admiration of the natural beauty I travel in. It has brought a definite measure of healing to my life that has made a world of difference.
As I struggle with comparing myself to others and having generally poor self-confidence, scenes like this are important to my mental health.
Down the back of the crater up on Hudson Bay Mountain there’s a few nice lines to ski. Prior to ski touring I had never attempted to ski them. I would see photos of what others had done and feel jealous. So when the conditions were right, and I was fortunate enough to make my turns down the back of the crater, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment as I achieved a goal and fulfilled a desire.
Those notions of desire, goal-setting and achievement are inextricably linked to my passion for ski touring.
I found myself sitting on my skis alone with my thoughts. I remember feeling discouraged that I decided to turn back and not attempt to go further. But I was tired, it was about an hour or so away from the sunset, I was cold, hungry and alone. So out of an abundance of caution I decide to head back down the mountain. But those few moments of peace and solitude are forever burned into my memory. I remember feeling encouraged that I made it as far as I did. I remember the silence and stillness. But most of all, I remember the tremendous sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of the place I call home.
Another day of late evening spring ski touring meant another opportunity to witness the splendor of the setting sun against the backdrop of the mountain I just skied. Who could ask for a more beautiful playground?
Mid-June ski touring meant a heavy backpack and a long hike. This was the very first time I’d ever hiked up with my boots and skis a-framed on my backpack and by the end of the day was I ever sore. My body was certainly not used to the extra weight, and my shoulder muscles and knees were screaming in protest all the way down.
But hey, I got to ski in June! So the strain was totally worth it.
So that’s a bit of my story and the difference that photography has made in my life. Now I’d like to open the proverbial floor up to you. What difference has photography made in your life? What are your favorite photographs? I’m curious about the story behind them.
Send me an email or leave a comment here. Let’s talk!