Taking 2nd Place in Jackson Hole Exposed Photo Showdown
All photos by: Elise Sterck
Below freezing bluebird days followed the biggest storm of the season in Wyoming which queued up top-notch skiing conditions for the Jackson Hole Exposed Photo Showdown contest hosted by the Arc’teryx Backcountry Academy. Icelantic Skis athlete, Amy David, was on the team earning second place overall. Six photographers were invited to the competition. Adventure and lifestyle photographer, Elise Sterk, chose Amy as one of her athletes as well as David McCarty and Sam Schwartz. The six teams had three days to capture the essence of backcountry skiing around the Tetons of Jackson Hole, WY. Watch their second place winning slideshow below.
Here’s Amy’s insight on the three days of shooting:
The first people I ever heard talk about backcountry skiing was Elise when we raced together in high school and my cousin David when we practiced backflips together on White Pine’s aerials hill. 10 years later, I had such an amazing time being on a true locals team with them. Elise’s incredible photography skills bumped us up on the final ranking list for the contest. Most importantly, our group dynamic was so darn fun paired with top snow conditions - what skiing is all about.
After driving through the night in a non-stop blizzard from Sun Valley to Jackson Hole, I met up with my team at 6:30am to get a jump start on skiing the fresh snow. Elise and I had scoped out an old burn forest a month prior to the competition, and with the recent storm and high avalanche hazard, this zone was our first choice. After a forest fire, the burned trees are usually coated in charred black bark; however, this section of forest was an old enough burn zone where some of the trees had shed much of char coating to appear blonde with unique texture. A few times Elise had to tell me to “try to get less pitted so I can see you out of the snow more.” It was that good.
In the afternoon, Teton Pass opened after avalanche control work, so we rallied to ski a few classics before night fall. Due to high avalanche danger, we kept our descente conservative (aside from David’s massive backflips along the way).
Dubbed the Mountains of the Imagination, our day backcountry skiing Teton National Park was exactly that. My mind wandered with every switchback as we skinned towards the towering peaks. With sub zero temperatures, the long hike ahead was welcomed as a way to warm the toes. This day of competition, our goal was to capture photos of the dramatic landscape and ski mountaineering opportunities within the national park. As official partners of the Arc'teryx Backcountry Academy, Exum Guides joined each team for this portion of the competition.
After breaking trail for five hours (well Sam and Mike broke trail), we had lunch and a few rappels. Keeping the conservative slope angles in mind, we skied back to the trailhead through an unexpected pillow land popping and dropping as much as possible.
Final day of competition, and the sky went blue! Our team drew the card for early tram this day. I thought my entire body was getting frost bite while we boot packed up Cody Peak. Not living in Wyoming for nine years has made me soft I guess! Just kidding, the wind was howling, which created stunning snow crystal tornados in the early morning light. After several laps of smooth turns and massive cliffs hucks, we transitioned to the classic spread eagle last run style. Jackson Hole’s terrain is not for the faint of heart.
Thanks for reading and I hope you get major face shots and fresh air!
- Icey Athlete Amy David