Maybe a childhood on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington
gave photographer Jason Thompson his honest,
mischievous, grin. Or maybe it’s his “outside office”—
Since graduating from MSU in 2002, Thompson
has been a Big Sky ski patroller and a mountain
guide in Washington and Alaska, all while building
a career in adventure photography.
I started skiing when I was 12. We were in upstate
New York, visiting family. My uncle took
me out, and I remember thinking ‘I’m gonna do
this for a long time.’
Hurricane Ridge is
a tiny ski area near
where I grew up. It
has a rope tow. During
high school I skied at
Crystal, Alpental and
I have a sister and
three brothers, all
younger. My sister is a
surfer, and one of my
brothers skis. Another
brother is a chef in San
Francisco, a culinary
I knew I wanted to be
a photographer when I
was 12 or 13. I had an
old-school Olympus and took painting, drawing
and photography classes in high school. I took action
photos of skiing, backpacking, soccer.
I’ve been guiding for ten years. I work in Alaska,
in the North Cascades and on Mount Rainier.
I skied at Bridger before I started working at Big
Sky in 2004. My favorite part of ski patrolling is
the people… and the avalanche control… and the
In 2008, on a Hans Saari Grant, I went to the
Svaneti Region of the Republic of Georgia with
Tyler Jones and Seth Waterfall. Our host family
in the village of Ushguli was friendly and
welcoming. They thought our idea of skiing on
Mount Shkhara (17,200’) was absurd.
I’m more of a skier. I like combining skiing and
climbing. For me, that’s the ultimate.
Photography is a way to creatively document people’s
passion for the outdoors. It’s cool to … see
how athletes I shoot have progressed, to see how
we all become more competent in the mountains.
My style is raw, unposed.
I’m going to stay based out of Bozeman as long as
I can. I love the community of likeminded people.
It’s centrally located, … [and we have] mountains
in our backyard.
This March, Ann Gilbert and I went on a skiing/
climbing trip in the Canadian Rockies. Then
I’m going to take pictures of heli skiing in Cordova
with Points North.