It has been a dry winter in BC so when I got the last minute opportunity to get out heliskiing, I jumped at the chance. I was really hoping to get out into the backcountry with the Phase One and see what it was like in the mountain environment. Stellar Heliskiing provided that setting and much, much more.

Stellar Heliskiing is located in the interior of British Columbia in a little town called Kaslo BC. The mountain ranges they operate in are the Selkirks and the Purcells. The valley bottom was brown, warm and very Spring-like. Once up in the helicopter it was a different story. The vast mountainous terrain extended almost infinitely in every direction which made for some stunning views and incredible skiing.

The day started out with the guide's meeting where they go over weather reports, discuss safety concerns and plan out where they want to take the group skiing that day.  I was issued an avalanche beacon, radio, and an airbag that contained my shovel and probe. We did some safety training on how to use all of the gear in the event of an emergency and general protocol for the day.

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We were told that we would be headed to the northern tip of their terrain deep in the Purcells. An area that they had only been 3 times before and searching for terrain that had never been skied before.

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We arrived at the staging area up the road from Kaslo in Meadow Creek. It is a rural setting surrounded by farmers fields. There were cattle in the background and geese flying overhead. After a few minutes the fog cleared and the helicopter was able to pick us up. Instantly we rose above the clouds and were greeted by glorious sunshine and impressive mountains.

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My excitement was rapidly building. The terrain was getting closer and closer.  These mountains were huge. It is difficult to explain the scale of these mountains to someone who wasn't there. You feel small among them and in awe at every turn.

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In just under 10 minutes we were transported from a farmers field in the warm valley bottom to another world at the top of a snowy mountain peak. We were ready for our first run.

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The roar of the helicopter had faded into the distance and we were following our ski guide to the first pitch. Our first run was down a massive, untouched alpine bowl. With a few brief instructions from our guide, were off on our first run.

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The experience was a bit like Alice when she peered through the looking glass. It was as though I had stepped into another world with this massive expanse of terrain and no one else around. There was untracked powder in every direction.

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It is a sensory overload up there. My sense of scale was thrown off even further when I would look to the bottom of the pitch and see our guide...ant sized.

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When we got down to the bottom we went back to the top - or however that song goes. The helicopter has us ready for another perfect, untracked run in minutes. 

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As we made our way deeper into the tenure, the terrain just kept getting more spectacular. These photos shot with the Phase One camera have so much details in them. You can see every rock outcropping and every spine.

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The snow also kept getting softer and deeper. At the guides meeting they expected only 5cms of fresh snow. In places it was more like 15-20cms. The last storm had deposited more snow in the area we were skiing making the a great day even better.

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Having the privilege of exploring these mountains on a perfect weather day was overwhelming and something I will not soon forget. We skied some impressive vertical too. 14 runs in total. I could not have asked for a better day in the mountains.

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Our plan was to ski for two days but the a storm rolled in the evening of our first day. With the fog that came along with it, skiing was just not going to happen. The shot above is of the main street of Kaslo BC. The heritage building on the left is the Kaslo Hotel. it is also the base of operations for Stellar Heliskiing. This town has so much classic Canadian character.

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The morning fog made for some moody photos of this historic mining town.

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My brother John was less than impressed with the fog. He was suppose to join me on the second day.

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We did our best to wait out the weather. We grabbed a couple of coffees and walked the waterfront. The fog wouldn't let up and with the low visibiltiy came the harsh reality that we would not be flying. We did discover the SS Moyie moured in Kalso. It is the World's oldest intact passenger sternwheeler. 

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The road home offered up some more dramatic views. With British Columbia's varied landscapes, it is a beautiful place to visit in any season.

For more information about Stellar Heliskiing, check out their website at: www.stellarheliskiing.com

Also, check out the Kaslo Hotel for some quality service, great beer and a perfect place to get some rest after a day of heliskiing: www.kaslohotel.com

 

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So the evening did not start off too well. I made a rookie mistake and left the studio without a spare battery. The sun was starting to sink and it looked like the makings of an amazing sunset. I set up the shot in frame and a the battery was dead. I had no choice but to drive back to the studio for the spares. I managed to make a quick turn around and get back before the sun totally set. There was a beautiful orange cast of light in the sky so I framed the shot again and hoped to make something out of the evening session. I headed back to my computer to edit the shoot. I am used to shooting with digital SLRs and have a pretty good feel for what I can capture in certain conditions. I was not expecting too much from this evenings shoot. From the dead batteries, forgotten spares and the haze across the sky, I wasn't hopeful. I felt like I was going to get a shot without a lot of contrast, but I was totally wrong. The dynamic range in these photos from the Phase One were totally incredible! I was able to pull out the details and multiple layers I did not expect to see. Once again very I am very impressed. Here are a couple photos from the sunset shoot. {gallery}sunset1{/gallery}

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Tagged in: Phase One Sunset

First shots with the +Phase One  camera and digital IQ250 back.  I felt a bit like James Bond when he gets new gear from Q. Ripping open the box the first thing I see is the weather sealed hard case with the Phase One logo on it. Upon opening the case I realized right away that this is a beautiful piece of photographic equipment with exceptional build quality.After familiarizing myself with the camera and the basic controls, I ventured outside for my first few shots. I chose some vintage cars that are rusting away in the near by forest as my first subject. I have shot these relics before, but never with so much detail.  I felt pretty at home with this camera right from the start and had no problems with getting the settings to where I wanted them. I shot a dozen or so photos and headed back to my studio to check them out. The amount of detail on first inspection was jaw-dropping. Each photo was in the 50mb area at a resolution of 8280x6208. It was a unique experience to capture details so fine.
So fine that I did not even pick up on them with my eyes well shooting the photos! Needless to say my first impression is very positive. Here are a couple shots from the shoot.

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Tagged in: Grime Phase One

I'm super excited about these FedEx boxes that arrived at my door. In them is a medium format camera and lenses from Phase One . As the winner of the Phase One Photo Contest, I have the privilege of shooting with this camera for the next 30 days. I will be sharing my experience with the camera and photos I capture in the days to come.

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Tagged in: Phase One