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Backcountry ski photographer dies in fall

Carl Warren Skoog, 46, a professional skiing photographer working in harsh Argentine terrain, died in a 4,500-foot fall the remote southern face of 22,210-foot Mount Mercedario in the Andes.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A professional skiing photographer attempting to document the harsh Argentine terrain where plane crash survivors once resorted to cannibalism died in a 4,500-foot fall, his family said.

Carl Warren Skoog, 46, fell from the remote southern face of 22,210-foot Mount Mercedario in the Andes on Oct. 17 while working with a longtime ski partner, Rene Crawshaw.

“It wasn’t extremely dangerous. He just fell somehow, and he just couldn’t get his ice pick in to stop him,” said Crawshaw, who needed more than a day to trek out of the remote area to get aid.

The pair had set out to photograph the landscape that became well known after a plane carrying an Uruguayan rugby team crashed in 1972, stranding 16 survivors and forcing them to turn to cannibalism until their rescue 10 weeks later. Their ordeal was the subject of a book and the 1993 movie “Alive.”

Skoog’s backcountry ski work has been published in magazines including Skiing, Powder and Backcountry. On Wednesday, Backcountry’s Web site posted the nine cover shots Skoog took for the magazine, along with a tribute.

Skoog grew up in Bellevue and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Washington before stumbling into professional photography in 1985, when he, his brother Lowell and a friend wrote an article about a ski trip for a mountaineering magazine.

In the mid-1990s, Carl Skoog gave up a job designing outdoor gear to devote himself to photography.

“For about a decade, he was really the most active and the most published of the photographers working in this small and kind of difficult niche,” Lowell Skoog said.

Skoog, of Redmond, pioneered numerous descents in Washington’s Picket, Bailey and Chiwaukum ranges. In July 1997, he and three friends became the first to ski the treacherous slopes of Mowich Face on the northwest flank of Mount Rainier.