Even with the prevalence of digital capture, it is only every once in a while that we see something entirely unprecedented.
Growing up in the mountains, I always felt like geologic change was real, but not the kind of thing that happened in human time. I was in awe of how glaciers grew and receded, carving the mountains into the seductive shapes that inspires us to learn to ski and climb; but I always believed that I wouldn’t live long enough to really see the changes.
How wrong I was! Just a decade of working with CMH Heli-Skiing has been enough to see dramatic changes in the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies. During the same time, geologic change seems to be accelerating in many parts of the world, and with the phenomenon reaching beyond the niche circles of skiers and mountaineers, people are aiming cameras and instruments at our planet in new ways.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of this change being captured "on film" is the Chasing Ice project. By using time-lapse methods the team, led by photographer James Balog, set out to capture geologic change in a human time frame.
The results, starting with a National Geographic Magazine assignment in 2005, have received global attention. The project has continued, and with cameras trained on galciers all over the globe, perhaps it is not suprising that something extraordinary would be revealed. Recently, a team of photographers in Greenland captured something that defies all our previous assumptions about geologic change.
While shooting a tongue of glacier that has receded as much in the past ten years as in the previous 100, they stumbled into filming the largest glacier calving that has ever been captured on film. This is not a time-lapse, but instead a city-sized section of glacier falling into the sea in little over an hour:
This video clip is perhaps the most stunning thing I’ve ever seen on film. It is part of the film “Chasing Ice” which is showing in North America and the UK during 2013.
Thankfully, here at CMH Heli-Skiing, we still have a vast wonderland of safe and skiable glaciers positioned right next to epic tree skiing; but I gotta wonder; will my grandkids be able to ski these glaciers too?
CMH has teamed up with K2 Skis and Poorboyz Productions to capture some of the best athletes skiing the best terrain in the world. That, combined with the the winter storm that has dumped over four feet of snow in the last week, has created a truly "Perfect Storm" for a legendary shoot.
Seth Morrison Getting Deep on "Mugwump" - CMH K2
With the likes of Seth Morrison, Sean Pettit, Andy Mahre, and Collin Collins, we knew we were in for a treat.
The first day, we headed to an area that guide Patrick Baird took our "Steep Shots and Pillow Drops" two days prior. With 50cm new snow since the last skiers were there, the pros had a wicked time selecting lines and shredding.
At the end of the day Monday, Pettit came out of a pillow line saying "That landing was NECK DEEP!" It started snowing last Saturday, and it is still coming down 4 days later!
You might think that because we are up here with one group of professional skiers exclusively using one Bell 212, we have been doing a LOT of skiing. Wrong. Tuesday, we accomplished 5 runs in 5 and a half hours. Well under half of what any average group on any CMH trip would accomplish. My respect for these athletes has grown exponentially. The ability to ski the lines they do on a count down of 10 seconds after not moving for 20 minutes is truly amazing.
I can't wait to see the finished films that come out of this week. Stay tuned next week for another update!
Sean Pettit on "Square head" CMH K2
Photos: John Entwistle