Unless you’ve been living under a heated rock, you are probably aware that winter has finally begun. To decipher this fact ourselves, Locals Project team members, Scott ProctorWill Saunders, and Jacob Oster jetted their way up Little Cottonwood Canyon for opening day at Alta Ski Area. Resisting the pressure of opening sooner like other area ski resorts, Alta patiently overcame the urge and let the snow stack up on its untouched slopes. Lucky for us, they had been getting blasted with storms leading all the way up to opening day. By the time the lifts started spinning, there was a fresh, deep coat of snow for us to play in. 40” of fluffy, white goodness greeted us like the devil on our shoulder, tempting our better judgement of taking it easy on the first day. Although it’s silly that the state of Utah has trademarked the phrase, “Greatest Snow on Earth”, there was little debating if we would prefer to be skiing anywhere else in the world other than Alta. Such debate would’ve been nonsense.

"4o Inches of fluffy, white goodness greeted us like the devil on our shoulder, tempting our better judgement of taking it easy on the first day."

Jacob Oster

Dawn Patrol is like waking up on Christmas morning when you are a kid. You know its stupid early, the sun isn’t even up yet, but what the day has to offer is exciting enough to have you jumping out of bed and begging your roommates to get up and go.

The lifts at Alta Ski Area open at 9:15 a.m., we got there around 8:30 with about 40 other folks who were beyond stoked for Alta’s opening day. The morning was brisk but the dedicated ski folk held strong in anticipation. As 9:15 rolled around – yips and hollers started up as the first chair loaded. Ski poles clanking together and smiles all around it was time to get up to the powder.

This was the very first run of the day. We probably skied 2 minutes after getting off the chair before both Jacob Oster and Scott Proctor without hesitation looked at each other and hiked up to the top of this drop. I immediately realized that Alta brings on the stoke unlike any other place I’ve been to. Scott sent this 15 foot cliff first diving deep into the white room and then Jacob came through directly after. Both gracefully flying through the air and ending with an exciting tomahawk through untracked powder. From there we gathered ourselves and made our way to the next attraction.

Nothing but smiles after dropping an untracked cliff on the first run of opening day.

Jacob Oster finds a patch of untracked powder half way through the day. No matter how late into the day, every run provided us with patches of freshies.

“If you’re not crashing, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.” – says Scott Proctor. This guy charges hard all the time and gets everyone around him to push themselves. Its an addicting rush to test yourself when your buddies are encouraging you. Many times you land a new trick or send a drop bigger than you thought you thought you could… Or you end up creating a yard sale and laughing your ass off.

From the Wildcat chair I noticed these two trees resting below a small rolling hill and not a single person had tracked in between them. I told the guys that I wanted to make that image, so we raced down to the trees and I set up the shot. Jacob went first, gathered too much speed and ended up blowing up in a patch of powder before making his way down to the trees. He lost one of his skis and a friendly Alta employee came down to help search for the ski. I was worried that the run was going to get tracked out so I yelled to Scottie to rip down in between the trees. We ended up with this image that has a simple composition, noting crazy but sometimes simple is good.

I like to refer to Alta as, “Send Camp”. As you ride the chair up you can watch skier after skier charge off cliffs, huck nasty flips or dive deep into the powder. No matter the age, style or gender every skier is charging. This mountain puts off a sense of respect, community and stoke unlike any other place I have ever skied.

When photographing skiing in the resorts untracked areas are key. Every lift up gives me the opportunity to search for the untouched sections of gold which can be hard to come by after a few hours. Scottie goes as high as he can on this wave like feature near the lift finding fresh snow under his feet.

Photographing people doing what they love holds a special place in my heart. Why? Because more times then not they are smiling from cheek to cheek.

Last run of the day means we need to hike till our ass cramps up, search for a fresh line and send it. Well we did just that. Look closely and you will see Jacob dropping this gorgeous cliff off in the distance. Unfortunately the landing wasn’t as soft as expected and Oster blew out his ski on a rock causing him to lose his phone in process. Worth it…? Always.