Carl Skoog would drive to a cabin in the North Cascades late at night, and beat everybody out the next morning for the first tracks in new-fallen...
Carl Skoog would drive to a cabin in the North Cascades late at night, and beat everybody out the next morning for the first tracks in new-fallen snow.
He spent six days waiting out an Alaska snowstorm just to capture a breathtaking photo of a friend skiing down a mountainside, one of many professional shots that graced the covers of popular ski magazines.
And the Redmond man pioneered routes across some of Washington’s most imposing mountain ranges, going places on skis that most people wouldn’t dare go in boots.
Mr. Skoog’s enthusiastic mountain exploits, which established him as an important figure both in Washington backcountry-skiing circles and in national ski photography, ended Oct. 17 when he died in a fall while skiing down the side of a mountain in Argentina. He was 46.
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“Backcountry skiing and mountaineering was what he did,” said Adam Howard, editor of Backcountry Magazine, a Vermont-based publication on snowboarding and backcountry skiing that has used Mr. Skoog’s photos nine times on its cover. “His stuff was authentic, and he was just where the action was. He was just doing it. He would have pursued the mountains with or without the camera with just as much vigor.”
Mr. Skoog was introduced to skiing in the Cascades at an early age. As the son of Richard Skoog, a ski jumper and early supporter of the Crystal Mountain ski program, he spent long days on the slopes.
“We would stick a sandwich in one pocket and an apple in the other,” Carl Skoog told Couloir, a backcountry-skiing and snowboarding magazine. “I don’t think I saw the lodge until after I was a teenager, when I went in there to see what was going on after all the skiing was done.”
Later, he turned his attention to the backcountry, away from the crowds and the ski lifts. With his brother, Lowell Skoog, he established ski traverses of Washington’s Picket, Chiwaukum and Bailey mountains.
What first drew Mr. Skoog to backcountry skiing was that “it combines the sense of discovering the country with the joy of gliding through the country on skis,” said Lowell Skoog.
Mr. Skoog’s photos of his excursions caught the eye of magazines and outdoor-gear companies, leading to his career as a professional ski photographer.
Dean Collins of Bellingham, a frequent subject of Mr. Skoog’s photos, recalled his backcountry comrade as a hardworking devotee of the sport, but an unassuming person who was unlikely to brag about his exploits.
Collins went on three ski trips to Alaska with Mr. Skoog and spent countless days with him in the mountains. On one of the Alaska trips, they waited out the six-day snowstorm before making the ski run that produced the Backcountry cover photo.
“Pretty much every waking moment that we aren’t working and can go skiing, we’ve been together and shooting together,” Collins said.
Mr. Skoog died while skiing down 22,211-foot Cerro Mercedario, in the Andes Mountains of Argentina. He fell on a 42-degree slope of windblown, soft snow and couldn’t stop himself, tumbling approximately 4,500 vertical feet and breaking his neck, said Rene Crawshaw, a Canadian who was with him at the time and spoke by telephone from Argentina.
He was preceded in death by his father and is survived by his mother, Ingrid Skoog of Bellevue; brothers Lawrence of Seattle, Philip of Washington, D.C., Gordon of Redmond, and Lowell of Seattle; and sister Anita Skoog Neil of Bellevue.
No memorial service has been scheduled.
Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or firstname.lastname@example.org