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Wasatch Powderkeg 2009

The Wasatch Powderkeg is a ski-mountaineering race that covers nearly 6,000' vertical feet of climbing and skiing. That is, skiers start from the bottom of Alta ski resort and 'skin' (i.e. hike on skis) nearly 2,000' to the top before racing back down. Repeated 4 times on 3 different peaks. The top racers often finish in under 2 hours. While I've raced the Powderkeg several times in years past (including a Rec division win my first year!), I've always wanted to photograph it. Coming down with a chest cold this year offered a perfect excuse to finally pull out the camera.

As the race covers a lot of terrain, I debated for a few weeks about where to shoot from - thinking I'd photograph the racers as they zoomed by. However, the day before the race it struck me that what I'd really like to do is capture the racers immediately after they finish, in a series of portraits. Luckily my 8x10 holders were already loaded!

Since the finish line was more than a 1/4 mile up the hill, my assistant Kealan and I had to haul about 400lbs of gear up the hill (backdrop, cameras, film, tripod, etc.)

The portraits were mostly shot on 8x10 film, which is somewhat akin to burning $20 bills, with some of the later images shot on my Graflex 4x5 Series D.


Link to the Portrait Gallery