King Of Dolomites 2015
Showcasing Freeride Photography
John Summerton // Main Photo by Guy Fattal (2015 Winner)
It’s a chilly evening here in San Martino Di Castrozza in Italy and a brightly dressed, slightly nervous crowd of freeskiers, snowboarders and photographers has gathered in the village centre to hear the results of this year’s King of Dolomites competition.
We’re currently seeing some incredible photography surrounding adventure travel and adventure sports and are often left in awe of the talented athletes who ride the biggest waves, cling from rock by their fingertips or carve lines through untracked powder. However behind the scenes there is a huge amount of effort, patience and skill that goes into creating these photos.
The Arc’teryx King of Dolomites is all about recognising the talents of adventure photographers by way of a 48 hour competition. The goal is to capture the best shot possible within a spectacular arena: the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. And this year Sidetracked was lucky enough to be asked along for the weekend.
‘King of Dolomites is a freeride photo contest that started three years ago here in San Martino Di Castrozza and is growing year on year,’ explains local event organiser Filippo Ongaro. ‘San Martino is not a traditional winter ski resort and originally it was a base for climbers during the summer months. Over the last few years it has evolved into quite an established resort for skiing and boarding too. This year the competition has grown with 13 photography teams and professional skiers and snowboarders taking part in the professional category, while 108 participated in the Wannabes (amateur) open category. These numbers have been increasing year after year, confirming the King of Dolomites as one of the photography and freeriding events not to be missed during the winter season.’
The weather for the weekend was far from perfect so teams had to work hard looking for the right locations to capture the perfect image. This included rappelling from nearby ski huts, scrambling up through narrow gorges and plenty of other daredevil manoeuvres.
Alex Buisse, a photographer for one of the pro teams explains more: ‘King of Dolomites is really special for us. Here, we are the rock stars and it’s great to enter a competition where people can recognise the skills needed to produce these types of shots. The event attracts teams from all over the world and it made for a really exciting competition – particularly being based in the Dolomites as the views are just mind-blowing. The weather was on our side for the first day but it made things a bit more interesting on day two when the clouds moved in and we had to think a lot about our shots and be quite creative. It really does prove a good testing ground for us and the riders.’
Canadian pro photographer Zoya Lynch continues, ‘each photographer has to choose their team of two riders. I actually only met mine the night before! But the weekend has been super cool and it’s been a lot of fun exploring the area with new people and new challenges.’
The tension breaks as the winners are announced amid well-deserved euphoric celebration in the village centre. It’s clear to see that this is a collection of people completely dedicated to their profession and that this is definitely more a lifestyle than a sport or occupation. When you bring a group of people like this together, as Arc’teryx have done with King of Dolomites, the results are bound to be impressive, original and spectacular – especially within this natural setting featuring great charm and extraordinary beauty.