The Edge

GoPro'ing the World's Most Iconic Ski Descent

Skiers Chris Davenport and Sierra Quitiquit log the first film footage of the Super C Couloir near Portillo, Chile

Pro ski mountaineer Chris Davenport has logged ambitious lines on all the continents, including Antarctica, but the pinnacle of them all, he says, is the Super C Couloir near Portillo, Chile. Its 5,000 vertical feet makes it mightier than anything in North America (“Only the Messner Couloir on Denali can compare with it,” says Davenport), yet no film crews had ever documented a descent down the iconic chute because it had never been practical to haul in heavy, bulky camera equipment.

Why not heli the stuff in? There's a local moratorium on flights that could’ve delivered film crews and gear to the chute’s entrance. Henry Purcell, Ski Portillo’s owner, forbade heli-assists to the Super C, maintaining that skiers should have to earn their turns down the king of couloirs. And the Super C’s convoluted shape frustrated attempts to film it from the air.

“As GoPro technology got better, I started to think this would be the perfect place to capture with little cameras,” explains Davenport, who has skied the Super C more than 30 times (10 of those with ski legend Shane McConkey, who died in 2009) in his fifteen consecutive years skiing and coaching in Portillo.

So last summer, Davenport and Park City-based pro Sierra Quitiquit documented their Super C climb and descent using the GoPro Hero4 Black. Just 5.5 ounces and 2.8 inches wide, it captures 4K Ultra HD video—good enough to let filmmakers Caleb Farrow and Matt Cooke produce the first pro-quality Super C ski video, which they unveiled on Wednesday. 

“Mother Nature gives us this canvas,” says Davenport, “And it’s up to us to decide how to ride it.” This new video captures the artistry. But it hasn’t quenched Davenport’s thirst for Super C adventure. “Next on my hit list is skiing it twice in one day,” he says. “It’d be huge, but totally doable in the right conditions.”

Filed To: Cameras

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