Mountain Running

Here are a few images that inspire me to lace up and get out there.

What motivates you?

First light. Andrew Jensen running the Alta Ridgeline at sunrise, Wasatch Range, Utah.
Andrew Jensen and Jeremy Howlett on their way down from the summit of Devils Castle while traveling the Alta Ridgeline, Wasatch Range, Utah.
Robert Hunter picks his way up the ridge on his way to the summit of Frary Peak, Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah.
Jacki Arevalo runs Big Water and Little Water Trails, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.
The view from Sunset Peak, Brighton, Utah.
Jari Hiatt negotiates a rocky ridge in Washington Gulch, Crested Butte, Colorado.
Jacki Arevalo traverses from Pole Line Pass to Flagstaff Peak, Alta, Utah.
Jacki Arevalo traverses from Pole Line Pass to Flagstaff Peak, Alta, Utah.

Single Track Mind – Thoughts from last summer.

The Spine, Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah. Macky Franklin chases the sun in the central Wasatch Range.

There was a three to four-year period in my life where I spent about 30 hours a week on a bike. In addition to racing at the amateur level I worked and went to school full time. I didn’t do well at any of it so eventually I eased back from the wheels and stopped shaving my legs.

A few weeks ago Osprey Packs called and asked if I would be able to create some new imagery with two of their enduro mountain bike ambassadors, Syd Schulz  and Macky Franklin. As luck would have it Syd and Macky were heading through the Wasatch on their way to a race in Sun Valley. So I offered them our spare bedroom and omelets for breakfast and they were keen.

Syd Schulz and Macky Franklin take in the central Wasatch Range from the Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah.

We planned for two rides. One afternoon would be the Crest Trail, a Wasatch classic, and the second would be a few laps riding lifts at Deer Valley Resort. This would be ample time to make the images needed.

 

I’ve been fortunate to meet through life and work people who are talented and psyched to be doing what they love. It’s worth noting that yes, they are paid to participate in their sport, but that’s only part of the picture. As with most the athletes I know the “doing of the sport” is only half of their job. Syd and Macky are no exception and are not afraid to work. As we waited for afternoon to arrive and better light Syd and Macky were busy making calls, writing blog posts, building newsletters, making travel arrangements, and sitting down with local sponsors before we finally drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon and began pedaling at 5PM.

Tis but a scratch. Macky Franklin and Syd Schulz compare trail rash, Wasatch Range, Utah.

The Crest Trail runs at high elevations and until recently had snow drifts covering large sections. Our timing was near perfect as we ran into only a couple of snow patches and the rest of the trail was free and flowy. Syd and Macky went from work mode into full-on fun mode. 25 miles and about 1,000 feet of climbing later we were enjoying burritos at the house. Smiles all around.

Syd Schulz and Macky Franklin rolling the Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah.

Before now I’ve never really given much thought to how things may have turned out had I continued riding my bike like a fiend, but now that I have I’m sure I wouldn’t get to share as many cool experiences with great people doing amazing things in wild and wide open spaces.One more note on the work ethic of athletes. The day after the Crest ride we hit the trails at Deer Valley for a few hot laps before I set Syd and Macky free to ride at their own pace for an hour or so. They had a videographer to meet that afternoon and were scheduled to shoot some clips for an upcoming edit… Obviously it’s never ending.

 

See you out there,

Louis

Thoughts from the Skin Track

Sebastien Trudeau tops out on the Fondue Bowl, Meadow Hut, Esplanade Range, BC.

March 7, 2017

Today ten things went wrong and everything else went right. It was a fantastic day! 

This was the journal entry for my fourth day at the Meadow Lodge – a backcountry hut located in the Esplanade Range of British Columbia. 14 of us were half way through our self-guided week and I was thinking about the nuances of winter backcountry travel. Snow is amazing in the fact that by its natural tendency it wants to stay put. And at the same time, it’s filled with unlimited variables, many which can lead to instabilities and movement.

Two skiers make their way back to the Meadow Hut after a day of touring, Esplanade Range, BC.

I believe the same can be said about business. How many things went wrong today at work? What went right? Navigating the business side of things is terrifying to me when I try to keep all the variables in view at once. With so many things that could go wrong it’s hard to venture out. But when you break it down and focus on the fundamentals it becomes a bit more manageable. For me it comes down to risk versus reward. What is the investment? What are the chances of return and at what level? What happens if there is no return? And can I cover the loss?

Jelibi and Caribou Peaks with corresponding slide paths, Esplanade Range, BC.

That day in the Esplanades I created a Wasatch-style skin track (f%&$@#!* steep) for no reason, pushed a line too far for comfort, didn’t bring enough food, forgot to reapply sunscreen, etc. The rights of the day; our group studied maps for safer passages, observed the terrain for recent activity, kept tabs on the weather, dug pits in the snow, communicated non-stop, drank plenty of water, we listened to each other, laughed often, had meaningful conversations, bonded, and skied powder all day long. Like I said, it was a fantastic day.

In my experience learning from what didn’t work or went wrong allows for growth, but staying focused on the positives and what went right is the key to forward momentum.

Meadow Hut Nights. A nearly full moon illuminates the hut and Cupola Mountain, Esplanade Range, BC.

This winter season has been a productive one filled with personal growth. We had ice climbing, skiing, writing, exploring, and I met a ton of new people filled with incredible energy. If you have ten minutes to burn follow this link to highlights from the last six months. As the season transitions I’m looking forward to creating new climbing, lifestyle, portrait, and running imagery as well as heading to Denali to document a ski expedition. So far it looks to be another busy season, but there’s room for more. Get a hold if me if you have any projects we could team up for.

 

See you out there,

 

Louis

 

 

 

 

All About the Powder

One of the things I can’t seem to stop doing is photographing skiing while it storms. Those of you who ski know that some of the best days ever have been storm days. More nuance than exact details the textures of the scene are subtle, but very, very telling. Chris Smith emerges from the white room.larevalo_emmamarch_0316_0012

Winter Backcountry Photography.

Splitboarder Maxwell Morrill boots his way to a wintery summit in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.
Splitboarder Maxwell Morrill boots his way to a wintery summit in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.

I had an idea about ten years back, “it would be easier to get great ski and snowboard imagery if I just shot the places I was backcountry skiing with friends.” No lift lines, no tracks, no crowds. Simple, just bring the camera along and watch the bank account grow from all the money rolling in from sales of my work…
That’s not exactly what has happened, not even close, but there is something rewarding about getting out into the wild and coming back with something that isn’t recycled.
With each passing winter season in the Wasatch I am always amazed with new discoveries. A different approach, a new zone, a new line I either didn’t know about or hadn’t visited yet. The exploration seems to be never ending…

Powder

On the morning of April 15, 2015 I was up around 430 AM. I couldn’t sleep. Looking out the window I saw that a blanket of fresh snow covered the lawn. I brewed coffee, surfed the daily headlines and tapped my fingers waiting for Snowbird to update it’s overnight storm totals.

24″ and still snowing! I immediatley loaded up the car and met Hannah Follender at Snowbird’s tram. These are a few of the images from throughout the day. When it finally stopped coming down it added up to 40″ in less than 24 hours. Not bad for Tax Day!

Ka-POW!

What are your passions?

Zach Grant exploring the wintery Wasatch Range.
Zach Grant exploring the wintery Wasatch Range.

“What are you passionate about?”

My wife asked while skinning up a winter trail in the Wasatch Mountains. As she passed through the arch of an aspen tree that bent over the track I paused. A wave of snow clung to the trunk’s upside only inches wide and at least twelve inches tall and serpentined the entire length of the arch. Its position on the tree defied gravity and the sun.

Jacki Arevalo during a post climbing yoga practice, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
Jacki Arevalo during a post climbing yoga practice, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

I wouldn’t describe my youth as happy. In fact, looking back it was a very tumultuous time filled with angst and bad choices. My twenties were mainly a dark depression that to this day still tugs at me from the shadows. When my wife asked me that question I had an answer.

Jewell Lund takes on the crux of Fine Jade, Castle Valley.
Jewell Lund takes on the crux of Fine Jade, Castle Valley.

“You know that feeling when you’re climbing and you’re afraid but somehow you keep climbing and push through that fear? You’re still nervous, and still struggling, but for some reason you’re slightly removed from the situation? Like you’re seeing yourself from the outside? Aware of the acute nature of the situation; a small human dangling on a big cliff in the middle of a forest, in the western US, on the planet Earth, within the Milky Way, somewhere in a fold of the Universe?”

My wife shuffled ahead entering a stand of snow flocked spruce trees.

“Okay, it doesn’t have to be climbing. It can be skiing in the backcountry, hiking, running, yoga, sailing… any activity, anywhere outside. I’m talking about those moments where, while still being present, you see a bigger picture of everything and your place within it.”

Zach Grant snowboarding deep in the Wasatch Mountains.
Zach Grant snowboarding deep in the Wasatch Mountains.

One kick turn after the other we switched-backed up a ridge passing the gnarled and twisted bodies of dead limber pines.

“It doesn’t even have to be outside, but for me, during my youth and after my parents’ death I found these profound moments occurred out in the wild… It’s not necessarily about how hard, how fast, whether I was first or whatever. All that stuff is great, but it’s much more rewarding to have these moments to connect with each other, other people. What’s the point if it’s not shared?”

Jenny Powers chasing the sun along the crest of the Wasatch Range.
Jenny Powers chasing the sun along the crest of the Wasatch Range.

At the crest we quickly transitioned; skins ripped from skis, jackets, gloves and goggles on, we were ready to ski.

Hans Koomen navigates the Bay of Biscay on the Anne Margaretha.
Hans Koomen navigates the Bay of Biscay on the Anne Margaretha.

“Do you remember the bent aspen tree we walked though down below? How the snow was still hanging onto it?” I asked.

She smiled, “It was beautiful… and amazing!”

Caroline Gleich on the summit of Reids Peak, Uintah Mountains.
Caroline Gleich on the summit of Reids Peak, Uintah Mountains.

My passion is sharing the outdoor life.

 

Twelve memories from the twelve months of 2014. What do you recall?

 

Winter's Sunset
January: Sunset session in upper LIttle Cottonwood Canyon. Reconnecting with Quigley.
February: Traveling north I found myself falling in love with the Canadian Rockies and Icefall Lodge. Sunshine for days, cold temperatures and skiable terrain for as far as the eye can see.
February: Traveling north I found myself falling in love with the Canadian Rockies and Icefall Lodge. Sunshine for days, cold temperatures and skiable terrain for as far as the eye can see. Florian Jungen trying to teach me how to wiggle.
March: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. On the road from the end of January until the beginning of March I was excited to get back to the Wasatch, family and friends.
March: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. On the road from the end of January until the beginning of March I was excited to get back to the Wasatch, family and friends. The always willing Chris Smith living it up in the mountains above Salt Lake City.
April: I have never regretted getting up for sunrise. Chris Smith shows me a proper Wasatch Sunrise.
April: I have never regretted getting up for sunrise. Chris Smith shows me a proper Wasatch Sunrise.
May: Not quite ready to let the snow go we traveled north to the Tetons finding longer approaches and bigger objectives are worth the effort.
May: Not quite ready to let the snow go we traveled north to the Tetons finding longer approaches and bigger objectives are worth the effort.
June: I finally succumb to the season. Transitioning back into the vertical realm is a slow process, luckily I have friends to help hang the rope. Paul Shilton gets steep in the City of Rocks.
June: I finally succumb to the season. Transitioning back into the vertical realm is a slow process, luckily I have friends to help hang the rope. Paul Shilton gets steep in the City of Rocks.
July: The summer heat has chased us into the otherworldly narrows of Maple Canyon. I once thought there wasn't much to photograph here… I was wrong. Jacki shows me how it's done.
July: The summer heat has chased us into the otherworldly narrows of Maple Canyon. I once thought there wasn’t much to photograph here… I was wrong. Jacki shows me how it’s done.
August: Third generation Utahn, World War II veteran, widower, neighbor, friend. Edwin "Ted" Olson gave me a tour of his families centennial farm and the house he lived in as a child in Vernon, Utah.
August: Third generation Utahn, World War II veteran, widower, neighbor, friend. Edwin “Ted” Olson gave me a tour of his families centennial farm and the house he lived in as a child in Vernon, Utah.
September: New experiences feed me. Having lived on solid land my entire life I decided to sail from the North Sea to Lisbon, Portugal. Leaving the final lock from the North Sea Canal in Holland the Anne Margaretha enters the North Sea at days end.
September: New experiences feed me. Having lived on solid land my entire life I decided to sail from the North Sea to Lisbon, Portugal. Leaving the final lock from the North Sea Canal in Holland the Anne Margaretha enters the North Sea at days end.
October: You are usually in control when climbing, but when the rappel anchors for the only way down are star driven expansion nails from 1973…I don't think so.
October: You are usually in control when climbing, but when the rappel anchors for the only way down are star driven expansion nails from 1973…I don’t think so.
November: Making images of yoga has never been a profitable endeavor, but man… I can't help myself from creating more.
November: Making images of yoga has never been a profitable endeavor, but man… I can’t help myself from creating more.
December: Once again winter returned to the Wasatch Mountains. Staying open to possibility provided another unforgettable sunrise. Caroline Gleich and Rob Lea hike the east ridge of Mt Superior.
December: Once again winter returned to the Wasatch Mountains. Staying open to possibility provided another unforgettable sunrise. Caroline Gleich and Rob Lea hike the east ridge of Mt Superior.

Risk in avalanche terrain. What’s it worth to you?

I recently watched this interview with Utah Avalanche Center’s Bruce Tremper. In it he talks about risk in avalanche terrain. About half way into it something he said stuck with me. Paraphrased, “There are three types of people in the backcountry; those who don’t know they are at risk, those who know and go and anyway and then there are the people how go because there IS risk.”

Kordell Black and Cindi Lou Grant isolate a column of snow in the Wasatch backcountry.
Kordell Black and Cindi Lou Grant isolate a column of snow in the Wasatch backcountry.

Reflecting on time spent in the mountains it’s fair to say I have fallen into all three categories at one time or another. I shudder at the memories of a teenager rambling through the mountains completely ignorant of the dangers. Through my twenties I was trying to prove something and made terrible choices. (What was I trying to prove? I am not sure, but for some reason it felt like time was limited and the need to catch up was great.)

Cindi Lou Grant performs a compression test on a column of snow.
Cindi Lou Grant performs a compression test on a column of snow.

Another note from the interview that hit home was the possibility of having a lifetime in the sport. I like this. Numerous close calls and the accumulation of time in the hills have begun to change the way I approach avalanche terrain. Education, choosing the right partners, patience and having a willingness to walk away have all become part of the process. Don’t get me wrong; I still have my eye on steeper lines it’s just now I am more willing to wait for better conditions. Hopefully this will lead to a long and rewarding outdoor life.

After digging two separate snow pits and evaluating the layers, conducting a stability test and having a frank discussion with his partners Kordell Black boots up a 36 degree couloir in the Wasatch backcountry.
After digging two separate snow pits and evaluating the layers, conducting a stability test and having a frank discussion with his partners Kordell Black boots up a 36 degree couloir in the Wasatch backcountry. Following a one at a time protocol I headed up first stopping below a cleft in the cliff then Kordell followed and continued to the top.
The reward. Cindi Lou rides out of the couloir.
The reward. Cindi Lou rides out of the couloir.

Ski vs. Bike

Last week I had the opportunity to work with my friend and photographer Dane Cronin. We were shooting mountain bike athletes riding their bike sponsor’s new 2015 line. It was a great experience in which everyone involved learned a great deal. Sometime in the week Dane and I began comparing the experience to ski photography. He was in the camp that skiing was easier to shoot. I asserted they might be about the same, maybe skiing slightly more difficult. There are definite similarities. What do you think?larevalo_mngsepark_0614_0057 Hike a bike somewhere on the Wasatch Crest Trail with Chris Akrigg. larevalo_ptsymrly_0213_0460 larevalo_wlvrnsr_0313_0048