The title of this piece only touches on the overall story, a tale of the mixing of motorsports, photography, and Alaska that almost lead to devastating results for me on a cold February day in 2013. The event in question was the 2013 Iron Dog snowmobile race, a grueling 2031-mile journey from Big Lake, Alaska to Nome.
I love photography and I love almost any motorsport that isn’t NASCAR (sorry everyone, I just hate NASCAR). Previous to the 2013 Iron Dog, I had experience shooting photos of other snowmobile events—mainly snowcross and freestyle events. The winter weather in Alaska was something I thought I had always accommodated given my gear loadout and trip planning. Not the case this time. I made a series of mistakes that almost ended very badly. Because I got overconfident in myself and underestimated the effect the wind and cold temperatures would have on me, I nearly suffered an icy fate.
I remember when I left that morning it was in the mid ’20s outside, with clear blue skies. I briefly thought about taking extra clothes and water. My clothing loadout that day was a classic rookie mistake: I wore a generic Carhartt-imitation jacket, Sorel Caribou boots with plain white cotton socks underneath, Carhartt blue jeans, no hat, gloves, layers, or long sleeves, just a simple cotton t-shirt to cover my core. I know my mother would have disapproved; you never go out in the winter without a hat and gloves on.