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Chasing Winter: Form & Function in the Alps

Posted on 03 October 2019

 
"Our new Alp-Inspired Collection honors my late Aunt Ilse, who pioneered her own ski guiding business in the French Alps in the 1980s. After her tragic passing in an avalanche, her daughter Misha took over the family business and continues to run 9 Vallées Ski Safari today from their home in Tignes, France. 

The design process for these new prints started a few years ago and when the time came to photograph our new samples, there was no better place to go than to retrace our original inspiration: life in the Alps.

This would be a special mission, first visiting the heart of ski mountaineering in Chamonix, then spending time with my cousins, Ilse's kids, to celebrate her youngest daughter, Adele's 20th birthday in an alpine hut, or réfuge.

There was no better companion for this trip than my childhood friend, longtime ski buddy, and skilled mountaineer, Katy Kirkpatrick, who would appreciate the journey and play an important role in the creative process of bringing our most proud Skida collection to life!" 

- Corinne Prevot, Skida founder


Corinne and Katy, Argentina 2017.

So, we caught up with Katy. Here's her take on the adventure:



Katy Kirkpatrick | Quick QuestionsSince you were wearing one of the first Skida hats, both you and your photography have been featured in our catalogs, website, and social media for years - wearing Skida all around the world! Can you give us a little background about your relationship with Corinne, and how that translates into working with Skida?

"We met our first year of high school and immediately hit it off. We shared a passion for snow, spontaneous adventures (like camping in a Firetower on a school night) and art and design, which at that point mainly looked like sewing and knitting. While these passions have changed, they still form the basis of our friendship, allowing us to collaborate in really, really fun ways. From eight hour hikes to camping on a mountaintop, these types of adventures translate well into travel compatibility, solid communication and whimsical planning styles."

How did your trip to the French Alps to shoot our newest Vermont Collection come about?

"Corinne and I were having one of our rambling catch-up phone calls, chatting through life updates, skiing and work. She had just finished assembling colors and prints for un upcoming season collection and mentioned off-handedly needing to take catalog photos soon. I mentioned wanting to plan a spring ski trip to France, and quickly the conversation spiraled into photography, skiing and "let's really make this happen." The next thing I knew, we were assessing colors and patterns with equipment, making mood boards, and booking plane tickets."




Landing in Chamonix
Photography and drawing by Katy Kirkpatrick, 35mm film.

What were you most excited for?

"Trips for Skida are exciting for me in pretty much every way possible. I love helping to plan the types of shots we want, the styling - color planning is the best - and the opportunity to travel for snow with someone who makes me laugh nonstop. Oh, and did I mention the food? I might have been the most excited for croissants, cheese, and more croissants."

Were you nervous about anything?

"Shoots are always a little nerve-wracking because there is so much that is out of your control and has to be reassessed on the fly, like the weather, snow conditions, and figuring out how to return a rental car to the [impossible to find] Geneva Airport rental drop-off. Plus, we were adding real dangers like crevasse and avalanche terrain into the mix. We had to be very intentional about our plans and communications while skiing and shooting."

Katy Kirkpatrick | Adventure in the Alps
Photography by Katy Kirkpatrick, 35mm film.

How was this trip different from past Skida trips you've joined?

"On past trips, we've had other team members behind the lens or modeling, so I was definitely nervous that Corinne and I were the only models and photographers.

Can you lay out a rough itinerary of where you traveled on this trip? 

"We started our trip with two ski days in Chamonix. We stayed at an AirBnb and got acquainted with the massive glacial peaks that jut straight up from town. Rain on our third day provided the motivation to explore the quaint town of Argentiere. After this, we drove on to Tignes, spent a couple of nights staying with Corinne's family, took a quick hut trip, then headed back to the U.S. Her cousins Misha and Fred run Ski Safari 9 Vallees out of Tignes. I had expected Chamonix to be the highlight of the trip for me, but chasing Corinne's cousins around Tignes made for my favorite ski day by far. When searching out the best snow and terrain, local knowledge trumps all.

Adventure in the Alps
Photography by Katy Kirkpatrick, 35mm film.

Katy Kirkpatrick | Alpine Hut in the French Alps
On this trip, you traveled between alpine huts. How was that experience?

"Our hut time was very special. I have an affinity for alpine huts and their ability to make us present. It feels a lot like camping - you're carrying everything you need in a backpack, you're off the grid, you're spending time with friends - except that you're staying in a warm bed.

While you're home, you're a designer. Can you describe the type of design you do? What inspires you?

"Right now, I am primarily focused on interior architecture, furniture design and graphic design. For daily inspiration, I do a lot of research (magazines, Instagram, digital publications, etc.) while sipping my morning coffee."

How does your work designing interior spaces inform your perspective on alpine huts as destinations?

"I've found that truly being in a unique building, touching the materials, and experiencing it firsthand, has the most profound impact for me. I remember visiting a little hut in Argentina a few years ago and drawing out its floor plan, making little notes on the side of which features I thought really aided in functionality, and where it could improve. I'm not sure that everyone does this (haha!), but I really do believe that when a space functions well, people are happier and overall morale feels a boost. Designing my own alpine hut was one of my favorite architecture projects in college."

 

Katy Kirkpatrick | Argentina, 2017.
Katy sketching in Argentina, photo by Corinne Prevot.


What was your biggest takeaway from this trip?

"I 100% want to go back and explore the Alps more, and I need more rope rescue training."

Three words to describe this trip?

Cheese, croissants, cameras.

What's up next for you? 

"Bike trips to the desert this fall, and then I will start planning winter!"

Shop Katy's Picks!

Check out the entire alp-inspired catalog on Issuu.
You can keep up with Katy's most recent adventures via
 Instagram.

 

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