Top 10 Vail Photos of the Year

Apr. 27, 2013

With only 3 weeks left in the 2012-2013 50th Anniversary Ski Season, we compiled a “best of” list of the past year’s photography. We chose shots that were not only visually impressive, but that also either helped tell the story of the season to date or photos that you, our fans, responded well to on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

So here they are, Vail’s top 10 photos of the 2012-2013 season!


Installing the One gondola lift towers. Riding up with heated seats, huge plate windows and wifi, it is easy to forget that installing the One gondola this summer was a massive undertaking. Jack Affleck‘s shot of workers reaching for a lift tower as it dangled from a Huey Helicopter really captured the coordinated efforts that went into building One.

Installing the One gondola

Affleck says of the photo: “First off, shooting any lift installation is a huge rush. The prop wash from the helicopter can blow you all the way to East Vail.

As I waited for the next drop from the chopper, I watched the workers climb up the tower and then clip in and reach out for the cross arm assembly being lowered. I scouted for this particular tower the day before knowing it would provide a dramatic mountain backdrop to the shot.”


The 50th anniversary celebration fireworks in Vail Village were amazing to see in person. Jeff Andrew‘s shot from across the valley was a hit with fans of Vail’s Social media accounts.

Vail celebrates 50 years

Andrew says of the shot: “The photo is actually a composite image in which I combined several of my photographs. It was snowing and completely cloudy on the night of the celebration, so in addition to taking photos that night, I composed this photo.”


Zach Mahone‘s photo of Sublime with Rome performing in a snowstorm from the annual event, Spring Back To Vail captured what the event is all about: great music, snow and good times.

Sublime with Rome performs at SBTV

Mahone says of the shot: “Shooting a concert on stage can be challenging or easy depending on timing and lighting, but it is always fun! Depending on the band leniency to photography will dictate how long you have. Usually it’s just a song or two. Once you are up there the composition of the shot is pretty standard (musicians foreground with crowd in the background). Deciding whether to focus on the musician or crowd wil dramatically change the feel of the image. However the real luck comes in with the lighting. If you can time it right you want as much fill light on the crowd as possible. With this particular image I really lucked out because there was a ton of fill light and a spot light on the musician which not only gave him a nice rim light but back lit the snow which really made it pop! “


There were no shortage of amazing pictures from the Burton US Open’s  first year in Vail. Vail’s videographer, Andrew Taylor, switched to stills for this picture of Scotty Lago during the halfpipe semi-finals. It shows off the amazing weather we had during the event – a powder day sandwiched between bluebird days – and the incredible level of riding the athletes displayed.

Scotty Lago at the Burton US Open

Andrew Taylor remembers the shot: “Scotty Lago is one of my favorite riders. So I was really excited to capture him boosting over my head with a stylish frontside 540 indy grab. I love how the cloud parts the sky to allow the sun burst to shine through. In addition, legendary snowboarding photographer Dean Blotto Gray got a shot of me taking this photo at the exact same moment and it ended up on Transworld Snowboarding’s website. I didn’t even know he was there.”


After the lifts stop turning, the apres and late-night scene in Vail comes to life. The free Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concert during the Burton US Open was one of the highlight events of the year. Photo by Jack Affleck.

Macklemore performs in Vail

Affleck said of the shot: “To get a shot of the Macklemore concert, I knew with the number of people that were going to show up, I’d have to find a vantage point above the crowd.

As I was looking down from the fourth floor, wine in hand and not another soul next to me, I was amazed at how different our concert experiences were. The crowd pulsed and moved as if it was a living creature. The other thing on my mind was that my two daughters were in the fourth row, having a great time.”


This Jack Affleck photo reflects everything that Vail is about: great powder, bluebird skies and endless views. Like Nothing on Earth.

Vail's Back Bowls

Affleck says of the photo: “Its a great treat to be able to gain access to the mountain a few runs ahead of the crowds. This day was no exception. 

It was Opening Day of the Back Bowls and a few feet of fresh snow and sunshine to boot. I asked Lizzy Seibert, granddaughter of founding father Pete Seibert, to join me on this shoot. One of the shots from this day was going to be a national ad, they were holding the space for the image in NYC and I had to arrange a runner to ski away with my first card to transmit.

We made the deadline and had one of the best mornings of shooting I’ve ever had on Vail.”


Cody Downard was out taking pictures of skiers when he noticed this bystander. Ermines are not an uncommon sight at Vail but they’re so quick we rarely see pictures of them. Shots like this are not only cute but important reminders that the mountain is a living place even without skiers and riders on it.

Vail wildlife

Downard says of the photo: “I was photographing professional skiers one bluebird powder day at Vail this winter when something caught my eye under a tree just downhill from where I stood.  For a brief moment the ermine was visible, but vanished quickly as he dove back into the snow. The ermine then reappeared a few feet away from me as if interested in checking out what I was doing. I luckily had my 70-200mm lens attached to my camera. I quickly shot a few frames of the little fella before he dove back under the snow again–never to be seen again.


This stunning sunset from Jack Affleck looking west over the Vail Valley is one we’re hanging on our walls. Picture evidence of why it’s called Colorful Colorado.

Vail sunset

Affleck says of the photo: “When the sun sets in the West and you’re on top of Vail, it often provides one of the best views of a skyscape and this night was not exception. I had my panoramic film camera out and bracketed the exposures to ensure I didn’t screw up what I was seeing and hopefully capturing. The ski down held some of the hues from the sunset on the snow. These are moments you never soon forget.”


This shot is from January 31st, 2013 – a day many locals list as one of their top days of skiing ever. The storm not only took us by surprise, it dropped thigh to waist to chest deep powder! This shot of Pat Baskins by Connor Walberg conjures up some very fond memories from that day.

Powder day Vail

Walberg on shooting this photo:  “What a day!  Definitely one of the deepest days I’ve ever had at Vail.  We started the run down North rim and were shocked to find that the snow was past waist deep.  We had a crew of about 5 skiers and Andrew (Vail videographer Andrew Taylor) was there filming as well.  It was tough to keep everyone waiting while we set up each photo/video with so much snow to ski!  Basically anywhere I pointed my camera I was able to capture deep shots like this one, what more could you ask for as a photographer?!”


And the #1 shot of the 2012/2013 season goes to…Stovall Studio’s shot of a starry night at Mid-Vail! Ric Stovall and Kevin Banker had gone up to take pictures of The 10th Restaurant’s exterior at night. By lucky chance they arrived on a clear night that showcased the blanket of stars above Vail.

Dinner at The 10th Restaurant

Stovall says of the photo: “We had originally shot the interior photography for the 10th and had plans to come back and shoot the exterior.  The night we were scheduled to create one of our signature dusk images was a new moon and we thought it would be cool to hang out later than normal and try to get the building with a dark starry night.  We lucked out that the Milky Way fell directly behind the restaurant during the early hours of the night and we were able to produce this dramatic image.


Think we missed something?

Check out the photos that we posted on Facebook this year  or on Vail’s Instagram feed and let us know which ones you like in the comment section below!