today is Nov 28, 2021

Christian Pondella is based in Mammoth Lakes, California and has made the Eastern Sierra his home for nearly 30 years. As a child growing up in Los Angeles, his family would take several ski trips to Mammoth each winter which fueled his thirst for skiing and the outdoors. Christian moved to Colorado during his college years to be close to the mountains and it was during this time he discovered his love for photography. Combining his deep affinity for photography and the mountains, Christian developed his skills in backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and loved documenting these adventures with his camera.

Eventually turning photography and skiing into a job which has taken him on a life long journey, giving him the opportunity to photograph and document skiing on six continents. His career has transcended into shooting all genres of adventure sports, but skiing is what he’s most passionate about. When asked, “What is your favorite subject to photograph?”, the answer is simple, “Powder skiing, if I’m photographing powder skiing, that means I’m skiing powder!”

Chris has an incredibly broad body of work and here’s his choices as the Top 5 of his career to date.

Dave Rosenbarger and Arne Backstrom. Chamonix, France

Photo Credit: Christian Pondella

Dave Rosenbarger and Arne Backstrom. Chamonix, France

This maybe my single favorite ski image. On the edge of commitment fulfilling the dream of skiing the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi with Dave Rosenbarger (pictured) and Arne Backstrom standing behind me. Several decades of anticipation to ski such a line, in fact I didn’t even remember taking this photo when I came across it later that day on my camera. Arne passed away several weeks after this magical day and Dave passed some years later making this day even more magical and memorable every time I look at this photo.

Bernard Rosow. Mammoth Mountain, California

Photo Credit: Christian Pondella

Bernard Rosow. Mammoth Mountain, California

I had this image visualized in my head for years and there were so many variables and luck for this to all come together. Hole in the Wall, an iconic run off the backside of Mammoth Mountain with Bernie Rosow. The perfect storm blanketed the mountain and lighting up the cave with a strobe meant we had one shot to get this image.

Chris Davenport. Portillo, Chile

Photo Credit: Christian Pondella

Chris Davenport. Portillo, Chile

This image resonates with me on so many levels. Powder skiing in August with one of my best friends at a magical place like Portillo, Chile is one reason I like it so much. I also visualized this image for a few days as we saw the lake transform from open water to this petri dish, surreal looking texture on the lake. We set out to get this shot and with luck and perseverance the stars aligned and it all came together.

Jim Morrison (skiing), Michelle Parker, and Chris Davenport. Kichatna Mountains, Alaska

Photo Credit: Christian Pondella

Jim Morrison (skiing), Michelle Parker, and Chris Davenport. Kichatna Mountains, Alaska

For me this sums up ski mountaineering in one image. Camaraderie amongst friends, a remote location, and a steep exposed committing descent. Jim Morrison (skiing), Michelle Parker, and Chris Davenport.

Chris Benchetler. Mammoth Mountain, California

Photo Credit: Christian Pondella

Chris Benchetler. Mammoth Mountain, California

One of my favorite images as it landed the cover of Powder Magazine’s Photo Annual (2008), certainly the most coveted place to have your ski image published! Technically a lot went into making this photo with remotes and the hand mount, but the icing on the cake was that Chris had to trigger the camera himself with his mouth using a bite switch, this was our only work around to fire off the camera strobes.

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