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Mar 5, 2024 by Megan Michelson

Meet a Creative: Christian Pondella

Home Base / Mammoth Lakes, California.

Activities / Backcountry skiing, climbing, road biking, exploring, fishing, paddleboarding.

Why Christian

To get to the extremely remote, hard-to-reach places where Christian Pondella shoots award-winning photos, you can’t be a slouch. He has to be as skilled a skier/climber/mountaineer as the professional athletes he’s following around and photographing. Since moving to Mammoth Lakes, California, at the age of 24, Chris has made a career out of documenting some of the world’s best athletes in the most far-flung locales.

Christian started out as a ski photographer, but he had a lot of on the job training as an alpinist.

“I gravitated toward taking pictures of what me and my buddies were doing for fun, which was rock climbing, mountain biking, and skiing,” he says. His work has appeared in National Geographic, ESPN, Powder, Outside, Climbing, and more. His commercial clients include Red Bull, Patagonia, The North Face, and Yeti.

Pondella was a skier/climber before he was a professional photographer. He'd be skiing big lines even if it was't his career.

Christian Pondella checks all the boxes: He’s as good in the mountains as most of the professional athletes he’s working with. He’s got an incredible creative eye. And he’s really fun to be outdoors with. It’s a rare combination of talents that allows him to be among the best in the business.

Chris Davenport Professional ski mountaineer.
Change the angle. Change the perspective.

Specialized Skills

Keeping up with top-tier athletes—while carrying a heavy camera pack—is one of Pondella’s specialties. But carrying a pack is second nature to him anyway. “If I wasn’t out taking photographs of backcountry skiing, I’d be out backcountry skiing regardless,” he says.

Putting yourself in tough places still matters.
AI can't find locations like this.

What's Next

Pondella spent years of his life traveling on extended international expeditions. These days, he’s also content working on projects that keep him closer to his home in Mammoth. “I’m always happy to hop on the next adventure,” he says, “but I’m also OK with staying close to home and spending more time with family. I enjoy both types of assignment.”

Christian shoots a lot for Red Bull, which got him to Utah for Rampage.