Kari Medig

Image by Kari Medig

Photo © Kari Medig

I had just finished my 50 step shift post-holing up the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col when I poked my head over the col. Sticking out of the Vowell Glacier ahead of me was Pigeon Spire bathed in afternoon light. My three ski touring mates joined me and within minutes they were skiing across the top of the Vowell Glacier. I waited at the col for half an hour as they moved towards the snow slope just below Pigeon. As the shadows lengthened, the light started to exaggerate the patterns the wind had made in the snow, and I made this abstract image. It was hard to pull myself away from the camera as I was mesmerized by the beauty of Pigeon Spire, but I knew I had to catch up. The four of us skied down the glacier and glided to the nearest flat spot where we spent our first dazzling night surrounded by giant spires on the Bugaboos to Rogers Pass traverse. One of the most spectacular aspects of the traverse  is the diversity of terrain you move through: skiing past granite batholiths and massive ice fields, following grizzly bear tracks in low valleys, skiing between seracs in knee deep powder down the tongues of glaciers, rappelling down massive headwalls. All this in the span of 130km!

There are definite challenges to photographing a multi-week trip like the Bugaboos to Rogers Pass traverse.

The first is weight.  There is about 10,000 m of climbing and descending on this traverse, which makes it imperative to be conscious of weight when choosing what photo equipment to bring. It’s important to decide how little is necessary without compromising the imagery.

Many companies make tough, weather resistant slrs with great zoom lenses to cover most of the focal lengths needed in a single lens. To have a light-weight slr with a single lens available in a chest mounted camera bag means that your camera is always at hand; an absolute imperative for capturing the moments of adventure that make for compelling imagery on a ski trip like the Bugs to Rogers.

Having just one small set-up also makes the problem of power less complex. For a shorter trip like this, I took five charged batteries. These needed to be stored next to my body at all times to keep warm. Within the first day or two of the traverse I was able to judge how much power was being used by typical shooting. I monitored the percentage  power for the first battery, which gave me an idea if I needed to ease off on its use.

As a rule of thumb, I try to not over-shoot and “chimp” every photo as well, because the display on the camera uses a lot of battery power. Most companies make digital slrs that come with a vertical grip that can hold aa batteries. This is handy (you can add extra aa’s to your food cache) but it also increases the overall weight. Having a simple set-up really helps free me to participate in the traverse and move around freely to capture my friends moving through some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen.