I was searching for a location to make a winter image for the cover of next yearÕs 2004 Colorado Calendar. The arrangements were made. ItÕs early April 2003. Aspen Highlands Ski Area management had agreed I and my camera assistant could sleep overnight in the old patrol warming hut atop the Loge Peak Lift -- 11,532 feet. They tow us in tandem, on skis, behind a snow mobile after the lifts had closed to the top of the mountain as night fell. We slept on the floor with a blast furnace of a heater blowing all night. It was a long night with not much sleep.
I woke at 5:30am and readied to get out for the shoot. It was howling Ð maybe 40 to 50 mph winds and cold Ð minus ten degrees fareinheit. My camera assistant dead to the world, I head out the hut hiking to the west about 150 yards post holing to best possible unobstructed spot. Looking up the valley to Pyramid and Maroon Peaks it was as if I could reach out and touch them.
The sun hadnÕt risen. There was a rare iridescent quality to the light. It was dawn but not light yet. To west the sky turned a mauve red hue. The medium format Pentax 67II was mounted on the tripod. Film in camera Ð Fuji Velvia 50 ISO. Lens stopped down to F22. No exposure meter in hand and meter in lens not register available light. Quick. Shift thought process. Go to manual shutter override with cable release in hand. Click and hold. I count 90 seconds. Again. Click and hold. Count to 80 seconds. Make three more exposures.
Hands frozen. Shaking. Pack up. Camera in bag. Tripod folded down. Hoofing it back to the patrol shack as fast as possible. Out of breath. In the shack. Shot in the bag. CanÕt wait to get the film back from the lab. And yes itÕs like a kid opening Christmas gifts. Got it. The winter cover shot for 2004. We ski the rest of the day. OÕman was powder awesome!