Skiing Mount Superior, Utah

Skiing Mount Superior

It's always a challenge to wake up and climb in the dark, but the glow of sunrise makes it all worthwhile. These are the moments I live for, says Utah-based, big-mountain skier Caroline Gleich of this moment on the south ridge of Mount Superior in the Wasatch Mountains.  She and her climbing partner, Nate Smith, had bootpacked up the couloir to gain the ridge, then skied down Suicide Chute.  The snow inside the chute was surprisingly smooth, chalky, and carveable, recalls Gleich, who is building up her ski mountaineering skills.  The wind tends to buff out the snow within the line, keeping it in good shape, while the rest of the south face of Superior was the texture of frozen coral reef.

I love the quiet stillness—it's one of the few times in the day I find true mindfulness, says the skier, who has been seen ripping on the cover of every ski magazine, including Powder.  Of course, I find the same Zen focus and mindfulness on the way down, but there's something special about the way up.  It's slower and allows you to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, especially on an exposed ridge line like this one.

Getting the Shot

The sunrise was amazing that morning, says photographer Jay Beyer.  After a slow winter in Utah, Beyer headed out with Gleich and Smith to cut fresh tracks and capture this photo.  I had this shot in mind, and that's why we woke up at 4 a.m. to go out on a little adventure, he says.  It hadn’t snowed in the last two weeks, so we were just out looking for some decent snow to ski.

With a brilliant sunrise chasing them, Beyer shot all day, but knew this was his image of the session.  This was the height of the sunrise, and so I had a feeling this would be one of the best photos.

Beyer photographed with a Canon 1Dx and a Canon 24-70mm, f/2.8 lens.  Select the photo for the large version.