Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.
“It’s looking cool, man,” says renowned photographer Jeff Curtes when discussing his latest endeavor with Jake Burton in the introduction of his most recent book, Chasing Epic ($40). “It’s looking really cool.” And, to be quite honest, we have to agree.
First off, the enormous tabletop book is as big and bold as the name might imply. Curtes was Burton’s principle photographer for nearly two decades, and as such, he set out to capture the essence and lifestyle surrounding a sport that truly only came to fruition in the last 25 years. The book is a testament to action photography as whole, filled with frigid landscapes and portraits that are just as sprawling as the glossy pages on which they’re printed. The still shots span decades and regions, from British Columbia and Oregon’s Mt. Hood to the desolate slopes of Norway and Termas De Chilan, Chile. Snowboarding mainstays like Shaun White and big-mountain freerider Jeremy Jones make an appearance, along with the likes of Marko Grilc, Dave Downing, Jussi Oksanen, and a host of some of the sport’s most talented individuals.
There’s more to the photos than just the big-name athletes they depict, though. Curtes’ brilliant compositions are a thing of beauty, relying as much on the majesty of the surrounding environment as the lone rider trudging through the snow or gliding in the air against a sun-dappled sky. The shots — many of which became part of advertising campaigns and catalog content — examine man’s relationship with nature, showcasing athletes who bear some of the most unforgiving environments on the planet in search of the perfect ride. They inspire, even if they do so from the comforts of your couch.