Deep Winter 2013 by Strain

I'm writing this from the muggy confines of a rental house in a gated community in Tapachula, Mexico - please forgive me for not giving the subject a proper run-down. I wanted to get a few words out before I forget what snow even looks like. More on why I'm in Mexico to follow, if I have time. It's a bit of a crazy story.

Read More

In Print: SBC Resort Guide by Strain

Always stoked to get stuff in SBC. Especially stoked when it's this many images. Thanks Adam, thanks Whistler / Revy / Kicking Horse, and thanks to all the athletes for sending it!

In Print: Snowboard Canada (Buyers Guide 2012) by Strain

This photo is a couple years old, but I knew it would one day find a home in print. When I was in the 'Whistler Backcountry' for the Ski Salt Lake Shootout, we spied a lone splitboarder bootpacking under a cliff face to get on top of a single line, etched with perfect Wasatch precision into the north bowl of Red Baldy. His touring party happened to be another Whistler crew, so we posted up with them to watch this rather interesting line choice unfold. The rider, Dave Henkel, dropped in and fully committed to the straightline, maching through the farmed turns at Xavier speed. I shot a couple frames wide at the start, then zoomed in to capture a tighter frame as he approached the bottom of the line.

This photo is very much a right place, right time capture - if I had toured through here half an hour early or later, I wouldn't have gotten this photograph. Sometimes, that's all it takes.

 (Andrew Strain)
 (Andrew Strain)

In Print: Kootenay Mountain Culture by Strain

My blog has fallen into a state of serious neglect lately. I blame instagram (@andrewstrain for updates that occur more frequently than semi-annually).

So, updates. There are a few of them. A season of mineral exploration took me from tidewater to massive icefields; from jagged peaks to deep underground. More on that in the coming weeks. For now, I'll start with my most recent photographic news - a trio of photos in my favourite publication: Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine.

I've been a big fan of KMC (and now it's sister mag Coast Mountain Culture) since I first picked up a copy in Nelson 3 years ago, so I'm pretty stoked to see some of my images inked onto it's pages. Props to the editorial team for consistently putting together two radical magazines, and thanks for letting me be a contributor to a publication I've always admired.

Maybe get the caption right next time though... the world needs to know that Eric Poulin has a sick (switch) method. ;-)


Birthday Heli by Strain

I don't think there is a better way to turn 28 than to heli into a zone dubbed "Chuter McGavin", shoot photos from the bird of your best friends shredding badass couloirs, then drop into a line named "I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!" Toss on the skins and go for as many laps as your legs can handle.

Happy (Gilmore) birthday to me!

For some words by Jeff Slack, head over to Unofficial Networks. Some photos from the day below.

Deep Winter 2011 Slideshow by Strain  

It's been almost a year since I managed to steal third prize in Whistler Blackcomb's Deep Winter Photo Challenge. Today, I was out on the mountain scouting some stuff with Jussi Grznar, who is making his own run for the title of "King of Storms" next week, bringing back all kinds of wonderful memories like shooting in such heavy snowfall that my camera completely iced over. Or, sitting in the Glacier Creek bathroom for an hour trying to de-fog my lenses with a hand dryer (a more detailed re-cap here).


Would I do it again? Hell yes. I live for Whistler's storm season. In the meantime, enjoy my 2011 slideshow, and get your tickets for this year's event before it sells out. January 14 @ the Fairmont. See you there.

Off and On by Strain

Winter arrived early and strong in southwest BC: I got my first pow turns on October 3rd, got chased out of camp by two feet in the valley bottom on November 17th, and could barely breathe nor see on Blackcomb's opening day, the snow was so deep. And then, as fast as winter arrived, the jet turned off and the sky stayed blue for almost a month.

While my friends in Utah are still suffering from the early season doldrums, winter is back in full force in the Whistler area, providing badly needed powder for the Christmas vacation crowd and snow-starved locals. A combination of factors has led to the establishment of an uncharacteristically unstable coastal snowpack, making the new snowfall a maddening exercise in patience and restraint, as everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and into the gnar. Two BC skiers succumbed to injuries sustained after being caught in avalanches this week, a sobering reminder of the dangers that exist within our mountains.

Wanting to escape the holiday crowds at Whistler, but leery of the heightened avalanche risk, I headed out to a pillow zone off the Duffey Lake Road with the Surface Skis crew on a greybird photo / video mission. The lack of snowfall has left me with very little to shoot over the last month, and I was eager to get out for the first 'work' day of the season. The light was flat, but the snow was excellent and pillows well-developed, with plenty of protected stashes hiding in the forested shoulder of Joffre Mountain. Just another day in paradise...

Condolences to the friends and families of the two skiers that died doing what they love. May the powder be plentiful in the afterlife.

Intersection by Strain

When Intersection was announced as a new event for this year's World Ski and Snowboard Festival, I knew it would become one of the premiere events of the festival: 6 film crews would get one week to put together a 5-7 minute ski/snowboard video, all filmed within 100km of Whistler. When I saw the $15,000 top prize and the list of crews competing, I figured it might establish itself  as THE event of the festival, in it's first year. My good friends with NuuLife Cinema, Voleurz, and Dendrite Studios were all sure to put together incredible entries, with Family Tree, Videograss, and Toy Soldier Productions rounding out the competition. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with NuuLife on their entry, a piece that showcased Whistler and the surrounding backcountry through the eyes of 4 local photographer: myself, Mike Helfrich, Kieran Brownie, and Mike Jones. I took the crew on a splitboard attempt of the Spearhead Travese - whiteout conditions halted us between Decker and Trorey, forcing us to hunker down there for the night and retreat back to Blackcomb the next day. We regrouped, lightened our packs and spent a full day filming and shooting in far better conditions around Joffre Lakes. You can see from John's pole cam shot in the edit just how good Heartstrings was...

All of the crews put together incredible and diverse entries, particularly Voleurz and Dendrite. I thought our entry had a good shot at winning but the judges awarded the $15,000 to Voleurz.

NuuLife Cinema's entry, "Relatively Unknown"

A couple photos from our poor visibility splitboard missions:

and the winning submission from Voleurz:

Needless to say, Intersection was a HUGE success and will be a marquee event of the festival for years to come.

Tremor by Strain

I'm not feeling particularly wordy but wanted to post a couple photos I shot last week from the summit of Tremor Mountain, the highest point in the Spearhead Range. There are few things as humbling as travelling on skis through big terrain - note the two skiers tackling the spearhead traverse (bottom left) for scale. Tremor was one hell of an adventure and I'm stoked we made it out there - the hourglass is a line I won't be forgetting any time soon. I was quite pleased with how easy the trip was on my splitboard - I can't imagine doing a day trip out to Tremor on snowshoes. Speaking of, anyone want to buy a pair of MSR Denali Evos? I won't be using mine again... ever.

Splitboarding is the answer.


Joffre touring by Strain

I went on an exploratory day tour on tuesday up to Joffre Lakes with Unofficial Whistler's Jake Cohn. Neither of us had been before but wanted to scope the area because of its excellent and easy access from the Duffey Lake road. A short climb and a couple lake crossings and we at treeline in a riding paradise - steep couloirs and chutes, 1000m glacier descents, massive pillow fields and mature forest presented up and downhill options for any conditions.

We tried to gain access to a great looking couloir but short of booting up the gut, couldn't find an ascent option we were comfortable with and decided to back off to a different line. We were again shut down trying to get on top of the Heartstrings zone when the weather socked in, eliminating our ability to navigate above treeline, in an area with more than enough death-gnar to do around... not the kind of place you want to be moving blind. Entering the line further down the ridge, we were rewarded with a playful and pillowy 600m descent to the valley bottom.

Of note: I was able to ride my split all the way back to the lower lake with ease, making Joffre the most splitboard friendly tour I've done off the Duffey to date. A quick transition to put skins back on, and I was first back to the car - doesn't happen often when touring with skiers! Despite being turned back of our two objectives, our exploratory mission was a great success, and you can bet we'll be back soon...

Deep Winter 2011 Recap by Strain

Wow, where to start? Last week, I was one of 6 photographers chasing the title of "King of Storms" in the 5th Annual Deep Winter Photo Challenge at Whistler-Blackcomb. Leading up to the contest, it was looking like it might end up being the "Deep Freeze" Photo Challenge: high pressure had settled over the area and the long range forecast was not looking promising. Thankfully, Ullr smiled upon the mountains and conjured up a beast of a storm that hit with impeccable timing: each day of the challenge brought a fresh, deep canvas for the photographers to work with.

Read More

Deep Winter Photo Challenge - Pregame discussion by Strain

For a couple years now, my friends have been pushing me to throw my hat into the ring for the annual Deep Winter Photo Challenge, a photography competition that has a reputation for being a fiercely competitive 4 day grind. 2011 marks the fifth round of a contest that has been won 3 years straight by Vancouver-based photographer Jordan Manley. I was shooting in Whistler during last year's contest and mentioned that I'd be interested in competing someday, provided Jordan got tired of winning. [singlepic id=461 w=550 h= float=]

Read More

Whats in the Fridge? teaser by Strain

Whats  in the Fridge? is the 2010 release from Jah Raven Creations. I spent some time causing all kinds of trouble in jah kootenays with jah raven this winter and if this teaser is any indication, this movie is going to be all kinds of awesome. "Get ready to get that gold sticker blown off your new era hat and that check ripped right off you new unscuffed nike sneaks because here comes a teaser of biblical proportion. Displaying the talent of the raddest most real shredders, sledders, and fresh soy cheddar in jah kootenays mon. So turn up jah volume to max and hold onto you keyboard because your about to get slapped. Right in the face."

Whats in the Fridge? A Teaser. from Jah Raven Creation on Vimeo.

Spring Touring - Cerise Creek by Strain

I went on a touring mission up Cerise Creek / Mt Joffre with a couple friends last week. Conditions were... interesting over the first half of the approach, where for the first time since I bought them I wasn't cursing the uselessness of my snowshoes. The crampons bit into the choppy ice of the forest floor far more effectively than climbing skins, but I'm still buying a splitboard this fall. Snowshoes suck. We thought the snow might be a little sloppy up high, but avoiding sun-baked aspects led to a late April powder harvest. Gotta love that spring crop!

Surface Tour - The End? by Strain

Our extra day in Whitewater used up most, if not all, of the energy I had left. Moving on to Red Mountain, which I've heard so many good things about, was something that my body was not ready to do. I took one lap to say I was there, then retreated to the demo tent to let my body recover from 3 weeks of constant travel and riding. The mountain was socked in anyways, so I didn't feel too bad about not even bothering to shoot.

The plan was to demo at Red, then drive through the night back to Whistler and set up the final demo of the tour at TMC (where you can buy Surface Skis in Whistler) the next day... but the Kootenays struck again, wedging a rock into Eliel's tire and keeping us in Ymir for an extra night.


We arrived in Whistler a day late, but the extra night in the koots let El and I make the windy drive back to the coast at a leisurely pace, and in daylight.

Note I say El and I. We left Shayne in Ymir, promising to return in a week or so to take him to Denver for SIA and then home to SLC. More on that later...

We returned to Whistler after 15 days on the road, and right on schedule the first major storm since we left rolled in. Low visibility, deep pow and alpine closures - to the trees! Exploring new hills was a blast but theres a lot to be said for knowing your favorite line like the back of your hand...

So thats that. Demo tour done... end of the line! But my adventures with Surface are far from over. A week later, I'd get back in the truck with Eliel and head back to Ymir, Whitewater and destinations south...

Dendrite Studios - Perspectives by Strain

Just a quick little plug for the boys at Dendrite Studios, a new film company out of Whistler currently working on their first full length video for release in fall 2010.  Two of my good friends and favorite photo subjects, Jake Cohn and Eliel Hindert, have been filming with them all season and I can't wait to see the finished product. Eliel and Chris Turpin go big in the Pemberton backcountry:

Perspectives #6 - Ten Years from Dendrite Studios on Vimeo.

Jake Cohn and Athan Merrick getting creative with camera placement on and around Whistler:

Perspectives #4 - Point of View from Dendrite Studios on Vimeo.

Check the Dendrite site for more 'Perspectives' clips, a full length teaser (soon), athlete profiles and other goodness.

In Print: SBC Resort Guide by Strain


Got word last week that I had a photo run in this seasons SBC Resort Guide. After much searching, I finally found a copy and flipped straight to page 58:

Nick Antle, handplant, Cypress Mtn superpipe.

Check the full post for the original photo and a couple more of Nick:

This was yet another late-season Cypress shot, so this post doubles as "Cypress Sesssions pt 3". Here's the original shot and another Antle handplant from a different angle:


This shot is my first published in SBC and, remarkably, the first time a photo of Nick has found its way into a magazine. I say remarkably because I shot this photo of him back in 2007 at the Quicksilver Showdown Over the City - hard to believe this method hasn't been published before: