On the day this photo was taken—after a storm cycle in late January last year—Jim Morrison and I had few expectations. After all, the mountains dictate what is safely skiable and what is not. After multiple feet of snow fell on the Tahoe area, avalanche danger often doesn’t allow us to get onto open, steep slopes like this. But on this day, the stars aligned.
After paying close attention to the weather patterns and assessing snow safety in the field, Jim (pictured here), skier, guide and educator Brennan Lagasse and I were able to safely ski and shoot on this classic line off Jake’s Peak, on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore. It’s not often you get a line like this with a blank canvas, deep powder, sunshine, and a ready and willing skier like Jim.
When it comes time to click and shoot, after all the work to get into position, the skiing and photography almost seem like the easy part. Well, almost. After all, you only have one chance at first tracks to get the shot. The pressure, knowing all the time and effort to get yourself into such a position can be stressful. These situations further emphasize the importance of partnering with the right people to safely, smoothly and enjoyably travel through the mountains and capture imagery.
When Jim, a professional skier and Tahoe City resident, isn’t skiing or climbing, he can be found running his luxury home construction business, Jim Morrison Construction. JMC specializes in custom homes in the greater Tahoe Truckee area, particularly lakefronts and developments like Martis Camp and Lahontan. Jim is a busy guy, with many employees he’s responsible for, but he will never miss a good powder day and seems to always find the best snow and ski it well.
Throughout the years I’ve come to learn that great shots like this have less to do with his skiing ability or my photography skills and more with planning and preparation (and a little bit of luck!) of being in the right place at the right time. These same skills seem to translate into whatever we’re doing, but we always come back to skiing mountains and taking photos because we love it. I hope these images will inspire people to get out more, appreciate our public lands and help protect those wild places through the passion and respect they develop for it.
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