‘Skiers’ Best Friends’ Highlights The Career-Spanning Work Of One Colorado Photographer
Breckenridge-based photographer Scott Brockmeier has spent his career snapping images of ski racers, mountain search and rescue teams and ski patrollers. But there’s one subject that’s continued to capture his interest — and lens — over the years: avalanche rescue dogs.
His new book, “Skiers’ Best Friends: Avalanche Working Dogs of Colorado,” features rescue dogs from across the state, including some well known pups from Aspen area resorts. It also includes a foreword by family friend and noted photojournalist John Fielder.
“It’s 10 years worth of work, the best of the best that I’ve captured over time,” Brockmeier said of the published compilation.
Working with dogs has its fair share of bellyrubs, but Brockmeier said it’s also impressed upon him the life and death importance of the dogs’ work. They’re often picked up by a helicopter at a moment’s notice by regional mountain search and rescue teams, and dropped at the toe of an avalanche debris field to search for survivors.
“These dogs that have noses that are 3 million times better than ours,” he said. “If you’re in a backcountry avalanche, the clock is ticking of you living through it. The dogs will cover the debris quickly — quicker than a human can — to find you.”
Getting the shot, however, is more easily said than done.
“It’s chaos when we do these photoshoots,” he said, noting one shoot, in particular, involving a litter of hard-to-wrangle, 8-week-old future rescue dogs at Aspen Highlands. “They’re like people, they each have their own personality, and if you can capture the moment where they’re smiling, that’s it. I go through a lot of frames to capture the pictures.”
Part of the proceeds from book sales go toward avalanche rescue dog training programs. “Skiers’ Best Friends: Avalanche Working Dogs of Colorado” is available at Aspen’s Explore Booksellers and online at Brockmeier’s photography website.