March 20

8 comments

Backcountry Skiing Photos, Rogers Pass, Canadian Rockies

By Dan

March 20, 2007

Skiers near Young's Peak, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies(Skiers near Young’s Peak, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies)

During the beginning of March, I accompanied two hardcore Fort Collins, Colorado skiers, Heath Mackay and Brian Gardel on a week long backcountry ski expedition to Rogers Pass, British Columbia. The highest point on the Trans-Canada Highway, Rogers Pass lies in the heart of the Selkirk Mountains on the edge of Glacier National park, between Golden and Revelstoke, which is where many of the well known heli guiding services are based. Home to the world’s largest mobile avalanche control system, (the area is maintained with heavy artillery by the Canadian Army), Roger’s Pass hosts excellent backcountry and glacier ski opportunities for expert and experienced skiers and mountaineers.

Heath Mackay telemark skiing below Terminal Peak on The Illicilliwaet Glacier, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Canada
(Heath Mackay telemark on The Illicilliwaet Glacier, Canadian Rockies)

Put simply, the terrain is enormous, the views are spectacular, the approaches are long, the runs are endless and the powder is deep. However, the weather can also by incredibly nasty, the avalanche danger can be terrifyingly high, the descents can be exhasuting, the snow conditions can be awful, and the winter days can be very short. In other words, true backcountry in all forms.

Brian Gardel skiing on the Asulkan Glacier, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Canada
(Brian Gardel skiing on the Asulkan Glacier, Canadian Rockies)

We spent nearly half of our week, on the Asulkan Glacier, staying at the Asulkan Hut and spent three good weather days making two-thousand foot ski runs on the Seven Steps to Paradise and on the terrain below Asulkan Pass. Another blue sky day was spent skinning over five-thousand feet in elevation gain up to the base of Terminal Peak on the Illicillewaet Glacier. As is typical for the Canadian Rockies, though, the weather did not last and three days were spent skiing in marginal snow, sometimes in near whiteout contitions, with one day cut short by the scary sound of slides coming down around us.

Heath Mackay telemark skiing on the Asulkan Glacier, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Canada
(Heath Mackay telemark skiing on the Asulkan Glacier, Canadian Rockies)

Photographing a trip such as this holds special challenges. Aside from having to carry the extra weight of camera gear (I typcally skied with a Nikon D200 digital camera body and three or four lenses, plus memory cards and spare batteries), metering in the intense white snowy environment can be tricky. Fortunately, the D200’s 1,005 segment, 3D Color Matrix exposure meter and digital image processor are incredibly accurate, and gave good results nearly every time. As any ski photographer knows, the sheer speed and dynamics of the sport makes it difficult to capture good ski photos, and combined with everyones’ desire to spend more time making turns and less time photographing, shooting skiing is never easy, but I think that we did an excellent job balancing the two elements.

Skinning in whiteout conditions, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Canada
(Skinning in whiteout conditions, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies)

Overall, the trip was a great success. I’m very pleased with the images that I recorded during the week, and I’m glad to have spent seven days making incredible turns in such an amazing location with two great people. I also continue to be impressed and amazed by the capabilites and results of the D200. Image quality is excellent, its electronics and processing are top notch and it’s easily the most rugged and best ergonomically designed camera body that I have ever used. It has performed flawlessly for me in every condition and has prooved to be an invaluable tool with which to practice my craft.

Heath Mackay telemark skiing on the Asulkan Glacier, Rogers Pass area, Selkirk Mountains, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Canada
(Heath Mackay telemark skiing on the Asulkan Glacier, Canadian Rockies)

Click here: to see more Rogers Pass ski photos from this trip.

2008 Edit: Here are some images from a more recent backcountry ski trip I took to Roger’s Pass the next year.

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


  • Dan,

    Great photos, as always. I love the blog too! Looking forward to the next trip up to Roger’s Pass with you. Such a magical place.

    Cheers,
    Frenchy

  • Nice Dan,
    I didnt know you were out shredding glacier runs.
    With my video camera now, I still think the hardest part about getting footage or photos for that matter is getting your friends to be patient while you get your gear ready…
    nice man!

  • The whole “No Friends on a Powder Day!” thing. That’s definitely the hardest part about shooting skiing. That and the looks from your friends when you say, “How about I ski this great line first… you know, so that I can get shots of you guys coming down from below…!

  • Dan,

    Great shots. I frequently go to Alaska’s Chugach and have considered bringing D200 or D2h along to capture the experience and terrain better. What system have you found works best for bringing along such gear? Pack within your pack or separate? I’d be interested to know. Thanks for sharing.

    Doug

  • Great images. Love the telemark shot – the solo track down the mountain and how small the person is in respect to the magnitude of nature – great shot.

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