The December 2014 cover of POWDER, an ethereal, evocative shot from Ryan Creary, shows a sole set of tracks descending Montana Bowl in the Revelstoke backcountry. Recently, POWDER Photo Editor David Reddick received this email: “My name is Ron Sahlstrom, I made the tracks in Montana Bowl that Ryan took the picture of. Too cool. Would have tried to lay down some nicer turns if I knew someone was watching.”
Sahlstrom is a 55-year-old bartender, waiter, musician, and father who has lived in Revelstoke for 23 years and skis around 140 days a season. He was with friends from Whitehorse that morning, and they wanted to ski the Montana north face. About 200 yards from the summit, Sahlstrom's friends decided to drop in at a lower entrance. Sahlstrom continued to the summit, and, with the wind ripping and the temperatures freezing, dropped in immediately. Unbeknownst to him, Creary, with whom Sahlstrom has mountain-biked, was skiing with his camera across the ridge. The clouds briefly parted, and Creary took the shot of Sahlstrom's tracks.
After POWDER released the cover, Revelstoke Mountain Resort posted the image to its Facebook page. "Who is this?" they asked.
"I definitely recognized the line and figured it was probably me the moment I saw it," says Sahlstrom. Still, he had to be sure, so he put in a call to Creary to confirm the timing of the shot "I'm 55 years old so my memory…I had to put the pieces together. It's a big deal."
What was your reaction when you first saw the photo?
To be honest, at first, I didn't know for sure. I've skied that line a lot, and so I went through all of my stuff to remind me of that day. I ran it by my friends, and they all thought they were my tracks. That's the way I ski it. And I was out there that day skiing that run. The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘man, that's beautiful.’
What was it like that day?
The wind was howling. The run looked great. I put my skis on and dropped straight in. I did the first turn kind of gently to get in there. The snow felt awesome. I did the second turn gently, and the snow felt awesome. Then I just let them go.
How did you end up in Revelstoke?
Well this is a big story. Back in the early days, back in the late '80s, my wife and I were working in Banff at the Banff Springs Hotel. My brother bought an old hotel called Peaks Lodge. I started coming up and towing up into these mountains above the lodge and skiing. The skiing was just outrageous because nobody was doing it back then, except CMH, and they only did it once a week. We had the place to ourselves and were doing these 4,000-foot laps of beautiful, pristine powder skiing. Eventually we were spending more time here and came out in the summer once and started looking at real estate. We bought a place here in 1990 and moved here in 1991. It's just an awesome place to ski and live.
Do you read POWDER?
I probably have every POWDER magazine issue since 1980.
Did you ever expect to be on the cover?
God no. Who does?
It's a very powerful image.
It's a very natural thing. When I look at it, I think, ‘that's just so cool.’ It so captures the moment of dropping in and committing to a line and just skiing it.