Elliott Bernhagen Gallerie

Elliott Bernhagen and his Best Friend’s Camera

Elliott Bernhagen got his first snowboard at Walmart—it was the toy kind without metal edges. As a kid growing up outside of Chicago, he learned to ride at age 14 on a small, snow-covered hill in Wisconsin. By 18, he fled to Colorado in search of bigger mountains and to attend Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. He only lasted a year in college—he wanted to move to Breckenridge to snowboard—but it was there that he met an ambitious photography student named Patrick Orton. The two, both passionate about steep mountains, became fast friends. 

They started exploring the backcountry together, hiking into Colorado’s Gore Range and throughout the Vail Valley, Orton taking photos, while Bernhagen made turns in front of the lens. A few years later, they bought a 2003 Ford F-150 with a camper for $1,000. They towed their snowmobiles and lived out of the car (#twodudesonecamper, they called it), driving long stretches between British Columbia and Alaska.

In the winter of 2013, they met pro skier Dane Tudor in Revelstoke, BC, and began skiing and shooting together. “The two were camping in a pop-top, their sleds needed tinkering every morning, and their stoke level was high,” Tudor remembers. “Their experience on sleds was fairly limited and Pat ended up getting his sled stuck up a tree while hill climbing. I remember thinking, ‘These guys are loose.’”…

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