Those Hot Powder Days of Summer

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It’s not unusual for us to be shooting out of season. Much of our commercial work is produced nine to 12 months before it’s used in advertising. The timeline can be about half that for an editorial shoot. Sometimes much shorter. In this case we had wrapped up a gear guide shoot for a magazine, but there were a couple last minute additions that needed to be shot. Ruh roh.

The guide was for mountain and ski gear, most of which was shot in spring conditions. So we needed to find likewise conditions for the photography to match as closely as possible. And that’s how local skier Kyle Miller and I ended up bushwhacking 2,000-feet up into the Kenai Mountains in July to get into the snow. As it turned out this was the hottest day of the summer with record breaking tremps in the low 80’s, rare for Southcentral Alaska. The forehead-high vegetation held the heat and humidity like a greenhouse.

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We ditched our post-ski six pack in a melt water pool above tree line and booted to the ridgeline of Tincan Peak. Most of the snow was in fields of giant sun cups; not ideal for skiing. But the heat we’d been cussing the entire way up worked in our favor to soften the summer snowpack. We got the photography done and did an obligatory run before calling it good. Sitting in the tundra back at the melt water pools, we were enjoying a cold beer while taking in the splendor laid out below us. That’s when we noticed the line of traffic backed up on the Seward Highway from Turnagain Arm all the way to Turnagain Pass. A wildfire at McHugh Creek had created a 40-mile traffic jam that would take 12 hours to clear. In no hurry to get back down, we cracked another beer and watched the mayhem from above.

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