I have been skiing, then snowboarding since I was seven. It was all my family did every weekend. When I got to college, I revolved my class schedule around snowboarding so I got to ride six days a week. It has always been where I felt I fit in the most, everywhere else I have always felt like an outsider. It has brought me to some of the most beautiful places in the world and brought some of the best people into my life. 

When I was a teenager I started to take photography more seriously, I ended up majoring in it at college and did some freelance work for Windham Mountain, my friends, and some other sports. I wanted to go to High Cascade’s camp and Photo Workshop so badly. I still have the HCSC “I <3 Snowboarding” poster with the sharpies that hung in my bedroom at my parent's house for years. Mt. Hood is just a legend for summer shredding and I had looked up to Andy Wright’s work for so long. It was always just out of reach as a college kid. I dreamed about traveling the world, following winter, and just photographing all of it. I applied to grad school for my Master’s in Art Education as a backup and ended up getting a full scholarship, so I went for it. While student teaching, during a time when it was extremely hard to get a teaching job, I got one, thanks to my knowledge of darkroom photography and willingness to take on the yearbook. That was that, or so I thought for the longest time. I was teaching high school art, and I loved my job, but I missed snowboarding regularly, and I sometimes wondered what if?

 Miles Fallon at High Cascade // p: Leigh LaBrake

At the very start of COVID, my life took a big change, things got turned on their head and I fell into a pretty dark place mentally. When winter rolled around, I got myself back on the mountain regularly and it felt so good. I don’t know why I stopped going every weekend and any chance I got, but I was back, and it brought me back to life. It helped me crawl out of that hole I was in, but it also was the first time I had felt like myself again since college. This year, I kept checking to see if there was still a photo camp, and I signed up immediately. I was finally going to snowboard camp at 35, I couldn’t believe it. I eagerly awaited it for months until the time came. At the end of school when my students asked what I was doing this summer, I said “I am going to camp!”

Sean Fitzsimmons // p: Leigh LaBrake


Camp was everything I hoped it would be and more. I learned so much from Andy Wright, Tim Zimmerman, Darcy Bacha, and my fellow classmates who inspired me every day. The content learned, the feedback each day on our photos, and the support on the mountain were so valuable. We had morning classes, got out on the hill to shoot, then had night classes and critiques. One night we even did a flash shoot for mountain bikers at sunset. Our camp “Dad” John took excellent care of us and even worked out a surprise from Chris Grenier, the Bomb Hole crew, and Joey B, where they surprised us with parking lot shotguns and ride home in the limo. Coming home from camp, it seems almost like it was all a dream. It was that amazing. I can say for sure I will be returning next summer. But I think the most important thing to take away, for anyone, is it is never too late. Even if you think it is, or your life changed paths, you can always come home to snowboarding, you can always press play after a pause, and if this is something totally new to you, just go for it, you are not too old, it is not too late, I promise it will be worth it.

Benny Milam // p: Leigh LaBrake