To most people, the late Carl Skoog was known as a talented skier, mountaineer and photographer. His skills in the mountains made him a role model for many, and his images were featured nine times on the cover of Backcountry. To the people who knew him best, Skoog was more than just a great skier with an eye for photography—he was a loyal friend, compassionate teacher and clean-living lover of life. “Carl is a purist and his intention is to be humble and honest,” Doug Ingersoll wrote in the Issue 14 of Backcountry in 1998, which also featured a Skoog cover shot.
Skoog grew up in Medina, Washington, a member of a hard-playing, outdoor-loving family. He and his two older brothers, Gordy and Lowell, would often head for the mountains together while Carl was in high school, and Carl’s hunger for skiing would later earn him dozens of first descents in North America, including the Mowich Face on Mt. Rainer and the North Ridge of Mount Baker. On October 17, 2005, along with friend and fellow skier Rene Crawshaw, Skoog attempted the first descent of the south face on Argentina’s Cerro Mercedario. During the ski, Skoog fell, tumbling some 4,500 vertical feet to his death. He was 46.
Despite Skoog’s impressive ski and photography résumés, he was never one to boast. “Putting together interesting trips to cool places with interesting people…was more important to him than bragging rights,” friend and ski partner Andrew McLean told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter in 2005. Quietly talented, Skoog humbly left his mark on the skiing community.
“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,” his brother Lowell said. “He had followed his heart, and so that’s pretty cool.” As the nine-year anniversary of Skoog’s death on Cerro Mercedario approaches, we remember a man whose skiing and photography speak for themselves.
We’re working toward publishing our 100th issue and celebrating 20 years of Backcountry Magazine. Can you believe it? Well, since we all can’t put our beers together with celebratory cheer, we’ve unearthed early editions of the mag, dug through them and pulled stories, photos, quotes, gear relics and more for your enjoyment. —The Editors