today is Nov 28, 2021

Born and raised in the small town of Ripon Wisconsin, Noah Wetzel dedicated his childhood to mainstream sports and cultivating a good work ethic. Acquiring his first camera at the age of 12, he soon learned how to ski in high school, and began to shape his eye for composing an image while documenting skiing adventures with close friends.

It was Noah’s love for skiing that motivated him to move west in the fall of 2005, attending Colorado Mountain College. Since then, the special communities of Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Alta, Utah have welcomed him home. Throughout the next decade Noah focused his efforts tirelessly on a personal start-up clothing brand (Lightpole) and continued to pursue photography and cinematography. Over the years his creative drive with photography took precedence, moving forward in 2015 with the decision to solely focus on photography.

An outdoor photographer, Noah specializes in action sports, landscape, and active lifestyle imagery. His work has been published around the world, and has recently garnered two prestigious international photography awards, taking home 1st place in the Raw category of the 2019 Red Bull Illume, and 1st place in the Adventure Extreme Sports category of the 2021 Memorial Maria Luisa.

Inspired by peace and clarity found within nature, you’ll often find Noah skiing, backpacking, mountain biking, and exploring dirt roads that might lead to the next best spot.

Conor Pelton and Willie Nelson. Northwest Colorado.

Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel

Conor Pelton and Willie Nelson. Northwest Colorado.

After surviving the bomb cyclone (70-90mph winds) of March 2019, the skies finally cleared on our third day of a week-long camping trip in Northwest Colorado. Unfortunately, during the storm our 2ft of fresh snow was blown to Nebraska. Surrounded by wind scoured coral reef and sun crust, pockets of soft snow a few inches deep were deceivingly intermingled.

I had envisioned this trip for years, and provided a blank canvas, I wanted to capture a unique perspective from above. The aerial vantage point would disguise the conditions, but also give us only one chance to capture the image. Working together with Willie and Conor for years, I figured Willie had a slightly better chance of matching Conor’s leading opposing turns while navigating the treed corridors. With my drone positioned downslope unbeknownst to them, Conor and Willie navigated the challenging conditions perfectly, skiing fall-line through the frame and to the bottom of the slope.

Finally exploring an area I was only familiar with in the summer, we shared a unique experience disconnected from society on a mountain ridgeline above 10,000ft. Knowing what we had to endure, this image will always remain one of my favorites, representing the value of hard work and persistence.

Teton Brown. Galena Pass, Idaho.

Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel

Teton Brown. Galena Pass, Idaho.

In March of 2019 I received a call from my friend Karl Fostvedt, inviting me to come shoot the Galena Pass road gap in Idaho. Packing my vehicle and hitting the road in a matter of hours, I made the trek north from Salt Lake to Sun Valley. Arriving at close to midnight, Karl and the boys (Wing Tai Berrymore, Sander Hadley, and Teton Brown) had just returned home after building all day and night under the moonlight – a monstrosity I would soon see the following morning.

Karl doesn’t cut corners, and always puts in the work to make things perfect. Taking an extra day to add a couple more blocks to the height, this massive booter had Karl’s stamp of approval. Standing 12ft tall and 10ft wide, with a perfectly transitioned in-run worthy of the finest terrain park, this massive feature was ready to easily transport courageous sky cowboys over Highway 75 sixty feet below.

Late in the afternoon, after a successful day shooting stomp after stomp, Teton was up top and about to call his 10-second count down when we heard a semi jake-breaking down the pass. Matchstick Productions cinematographer Mikey Curran and I knew that Teton had no idea the semi was coming. Waiting in suspense with the timing of the improbable scenario we readied our cameras as Teton called his drop. Sure enough, the semi rounded the corner into the frame right before Teton hit the lip of the jump, blasting a massive superman front flip over the semi and cleanly riding out! You can plan all you want to, but sometimes the best moments are the ones you cannot predict!

Tanner Hall. Chad’s Gap, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.

Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel

Tanner Hall. Chad’s Gap, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.

If you would have told me in 2005 after watching the infamous film Teddy Bear Crisis…that I’d be shooting Tanner’s redemption on Chads Gap, I would have been surprised and elated to say the least.

The previous night while driving down Little Cottonwood Canyon, I spontaneously turned around and headed back up canyon. I didn’t have outerwear, but within my vehicle I did have my skis, boots, avy gear, and camera equipment. Wearing only a dress shirt and pants (after finishing my night at the Powder House Ski Shop) I skinned up Grizzly Gulch to a ridge hopefully capturing a beautiful sunset.

After sunset I skied back down to my car and quickly thereafter ran into Tanner and my friend, cinematographer Nate Cahoon. They had just finished building Chads, and Tanner soon mentioned that Brent Benson (legendary ski photographer) was the only stills photographer. Having just met Tanner, he graciously invited me to join the following morning. I could hardly believe it, how random and serendipitous my decision to follow my gut and turn around that evening.

Sharing a casual morning with Tanner dialing the in-run and making the final speed checks, more local skiers heard the underground rumor and gathered in Grizzly Gulch. There was an incredible energy surrounding that day, an electric atmosphere as everyone knew history might take place once again on arguably the most iconic jump in the sport of skiing and snowboarding. Shooting alongside Brent Benson, Nate Cahoon, and Sam Watson, Tanner dropped in and floated the most perfect 360 critical, taking it 160ft and stomping halfway down the landing.

Erupting with excitement and elation, Grizzly Gulch resounded cheers and high-fives amongst the 75 lucky individuals. Interacting with practically everyone, Tanner brought so much positive energy. Tanner faced and conquered his demons on Chads, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to witness his thought process and composure firsthand. Truly inspiring, such a special experience, a moment I will cherish.

Billy Grimes. Northwest Colorado.

Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel

Billy Grimes. Northwest Colorado.

Burn zones provide so many opportunities to create unique imagery… the environment stark, eerie, and desolate. For over a decade, I had explored this area in the summer, yet never once returned in the winter, until this day.

When I shoot skiing, I’m often shooting across the slope or directly up slope at the skier coming towards the camera. However, on this particular January day the late afternoon skim light cast long shadows on the snow. Looking downslope revealed a different dimension, an otherworldly dimension. With fresh snow no more than a foot deep, the conditions were perfect for smooth fast turns.

Immediately I knew how I wanted to capture this image, under exposed black and white, emphasizing the laser-like shadows of a forgotten forest. Spaced perfectly for super-G turns, Billy Grimes arced past the camera and ripped through the trees below. Regrouping, we finished our day skiing side-by-side enjoying the surreal environment and a great day in the backcountry.

Noah Wetzel. Alta backcountry, Utah.

Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel

Noah Wetzel. Alta backcountry, Utah.

Well, there are a few images I can think of that would take the spot of the 5th and final image. However, this image means a lot as it demanded an incredible effort of individual motivation. Self portraits are very difficult, even if you’re shooting portraits of yourself, much less an action shot.

In March of 2014, I finally motivated to skin out in the backcountry of Alta, Utah and set up a self-portrait off a massive cliff. Positioning the tripod, I framed the shot and synced the wireless remote, duct-taping the trigger to my ski pole. With this specific model of wireless remote, I could only capture a three-frame burst. This small detail would ensure I couldn’t firmly grip the pole and fire an entire sequence, but rather delicately trigger the camera (with thick gloves) when I was in the perfect position upside down.

Talk about nerve-wracking. Multi-tasking upside down in the air…yeah…that’s exactly what I want to be doing. Waiting hours for the light to pop, I was joined by friend Eric Balken who ensured my safety, and also helped motivate me in the second-long windows of good light (considering I couldn’t easily change my exposure levels in my camera down below). All in all, everything went well, and I’m extremely proud of this capture.

I must admit however, it’s still on my mind to go back and capture this at sunrise with a better angle. Perhaps when Powder Magazine is back in print I’ll have a few exciting new images to submit.

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