50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain

Curtis Cunningham's picture

Looking back on the 2012/13 ski season on this, the 3rd day of October, 2013, might seem a bit odd at first. By the end of the article, I hope you’ll understand why.


50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain


This past ski season was the first time in my life that I had a season’s pass to be able to enjoy any mountain as often as I wanted to. I grew up with the occasional ski trip with my parents, and then the odd trip to Sunshine Village or Whistler as I grew up and moved out on my own. Then came many years of post-secondary education, where location and financial constraints put a certain damper on my desire to ski. I got married in 2002, and life got even busier once my son came along in 2003.


My family and I moved from Abbotsford, BC to Smithers, BC in 2007, and with the ski hill being a mere 20 minutes or so from my doorstep, that desire to ski was rekindled. The problem was that once again, finances prevented me from going up to the ski hill more than a handful of times prior to the start of the 2012/13 ski season. However, my photography business did well enough in 2012 that I was able to afford a ski pass. It was a lot of fun getting equipped with new skis, boots, clothing and everything else necessary for a season on the slopes.


Once the end of November rolled around, I can remember with great fondness how excited I was to drop my son off at school and head up the mountain on the 23rd of November. Although the hill didn’t officially open until 10am, I was ready to go an hour and a half early. So I grabbed a shovel and helped the liftees clear off the patio at the lodge.


50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain


There never really was a typical day for me on the slopes, except to say that I always had my camera with me and always posted images from my day of skiing when I got home. No matter what the snow conditions or weather, it was a joy to traverse the various runs and try to capture as many different details as possible. The way I looked at it, I was on a mission to try and tell the story of what skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain was like. The grand, wide-open panoramic vistas as seen from the very top of the mountain almost became too easy to shoot. Instead, I consistently challenged myself to seek out the tiniest of details that to me were just as important. One such moment stands out in my mind. On this particular day it was still quite cold, about 20 below Celsius, and I was taking the Lower Sidewinder trail from the Prairie T-Bar back to the lodge. Along the way, in between the various chalets and cabins, there was a stretch of snow that immediately caught my eye. The gentle undulating curves in the snowpack were lit with the most magical light. So I stopped and photographed some of the hoar frost decorating the snow. Upon further contemplation of the scene, I noticed a stump that had some different frost formations, so I trudged through the snow to take a look. I was rewarded for my efforts with the most magical formations of frost I’ve ever seen. Tiny, delicate feather-like flakes were my photographic subject for the next several minutes. It was quite profound when I realized that without these tiny flakes about the size of your fingernail, we wouldn’t have a ski hill in Smithers.


50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain


Apart from this moment in the trees looking at snowflakes, some of my fondest memories included:

•    chatting with people on the lifts, finding out a little bit of their story, what brought them to Smithers, and what keeps them coming back

•    building relationships with some of the lift attendees and other staff at the ski hill

•    challenging myself to move from the more gentle, forgiving runs on one side of the hill to the blacks and double black diamond runs off the chairlifts

•    enjoying the peace and solitude of taking time in the middle of runs to kick off my skis and just sit in the snow, looking up at the trees and enjoying the surroundings

•    being able to photograph several on-hill events (BC HS Championships, RAYZ Boardshop races, the Everest Challenge, to name a few)


50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain



The other major lesson I learned and tried to share with others was to make the most of your day, regardless of circumstance. It was an off-year for snow this past year (about a third the snowpack that the 2011/12 season had), but because I was so engaged with trying to find beauty around me, it was never an issue. This way of thinking was something that I did my best to share with others as often as possible. I remember talking with a friend about how I was having a hard time putting into words the feelings I was having throughout the year. In the end, the best we could come up with was a short, three-letter word: fun. I was doing my best to have fun in a beautiful place doing something I loved to do.


50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain


So you see, since I did indeed have 50 days of fun, there seemed no better time to write about it than now, when as of today there are 50 days until the beginning of the 2013/14 season. Who knows what will be in store this season? Will we have more snow than last year? How many interesting people will I talk to in the t-bar and chairlifts? How many on-hill events will I photograph? What will be my favourite run?


To help mark time over the next 50 days, I will choose the best photo from each of the 50 days I went skiing last season on Hudson Bay Mountain and release them one per day between now and 22nd of November (opening day). I figure this will be a unique way to relive a past experience as I prepare for another one. You can follow along on Google+ each day to see my favourite images from last season on the slopes.


The only question that remains now is: how many days of fun will I have this season?


50 Days of Fun: A Season of Skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain



Curtis Cunningham, the Northern BC Editor for Wandering Educators, grew up around photographs and fondly remembers spending time with his maternal grandfather looking through his slides. Cameras always seemed to be a part of his life, a fact that can be attested to by the volumes of photograph albums his mother has.

Photography became more serious when his mom bought him a Canon Rebel SLR to take with him when I went to China in 1994 to teach English. After classes he enjoyed walking for hours; photographing all the while. It was good preparation for his current love of exploration.

He started his photography business in 2004 in Abbotsford, BC, and then relocated it to Smithers, BC when he and his family moved there in 2007. He does a wide range of photography, from commercial jobs and passports to family portraits and sport. He loves shooting from a helicopter when the opportunity presents itself and is especially passionate about the abstract and artistic.

He is a firm believer in the notion that there is beauty everywhere if one takes the time to stop and look for it. The tagline for his business expresses that succinctly: turning ordinary life into extraordinary art.

Visit his website at www.photistry.com.