National Geographic News

Richard Permin Skiing, Seward, Alaska

Photograph by Grant Gunderson

“Alaska is the best spot, hands down, to ski steep, in a lot of snow,” says French skier Richard Permin, seen here doing a powder turn as he came off a 50-foot cliff he’d just jumped. The Gulf of Alaska is in the distance. “But we struggle with the weather. Sometimes we camp in Alaska for three weeks with only one day on skis—or sometimes none.”

“I skied five different lines,” recalls Permin of this day near Seward, Alaska, with skiers Cody Townsend and Markus Eider. “It was the most productive day of the trip. We starting skiing at sunrise, and we were done at sunset.” The trip was so productive, in fact, that both Permin and Townsend got injured (see more details below).

Scenes from this trip will appear in a Matchstick Productions film called Days of My Youth coming out in fall 2014.

Getting the Shot

“I really wanted to capture something that showed the amazing location and gave the viewer a sense of place, rather than focus strictly on the ski action,” says award-winning photographer Grant Gunderson of this shot. “For this shot, we decided to post-up on a knife-edge ridge, where we would have our best chance to capture some great ski action with the amazing backdrop that Seward provided."

Though the landscape is alluringly beautiful, the skiers were fighting injuries and tough conditions. “The biggest challenge we had shooting in Alaska was athletes getting hurt. Early this day Cody Townsend injured his knee, ending his trip and season. The next day Richard was caught in an avalanche—pretty damn terrifying too—which ended his trip and season. The conditions where absolutely perfect for the skiers to really push the limits this year, but anytime they are pushing it that far there is always a risk of injury,” says Gunderson.

On heli-ski shoots, Gunderson always carries two Canon 1DX camera bodies, and an assortment of Canon L lenses, “everything from 8mm to 400mm. I tend to ski with a very heavy pack as I always want to make sure I have the best tools to capture the moment,” he says.

Share