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Nov 7, 2023 by Gordy Megroz

Meet a Creative: Pete McBride


Home Base / Basalt, Colorado

Activities / Skiing, mountain biking, surfing, exploration.

Why Pete

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1993, Pete McBride, who was raised in Old Snowmass, Colorado, took an internship at High Country News. “I was a writer, but soon they began publishing my photos and I realized you could tell a really compelling story through photographs,” he says. “So I started to pursue that aspect of journalism in earnest.” In 1999, Pete and two aviation enthusiasts piloted a WWI replica, open-cockpit biplane on a reenactment of 1920’s first African air passage from London to Cape Town, up the Nile, and down eastern Africa.

Breaching orcas as seen from a research vessel off the coast of Norway.

“It took 58 days. Two French Mirage jet fighters intercepted us over the Red Sea. And later we crashed near Kilimanjaro and had to rebuild the plane in the bush,” says Pete. “But National Geographic bought the story on spec and it helped kickstart my career.” Since then, he’s written and shot photos for Smithsonian, Men’s Journal and Outside—and walked the entire length of the Grand Canyon for a National Geographic project, a journey that turned into a book, film, and speaking tour.

Pete is comfortable in a wide range of outdoor settings, from backpacking in deserts to diving with orcas.
Pete on assignment photographing "Ice Doctor" climbing Sherpas installing lines and ladders in the Khumbu Icefall.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked with Pete on assignments that have taken us all over the world, from the Canadian Arctic and the Horn of Africa to the base of Mount Everest,” says Kevin Fedarko, author of “The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon,” a New York Times bestseller that won the National Outdoor Book Award. “Pete is not only a world-class photographer and filmmaker, but also a superb collaborator. He’s tenacious, regardless of the difficulties and challenges that often manifest in the field.​

Kevin Fedarko Author, The Emerald Mile.
Pete captured this shot of a July 4th wildfire not far from his home in Colorado. The town of Basalt was evacuated.

Specialized Skills

“I like to suffer,” says Pete. “I spent 71 days carrying a 50-plus-pound pack through the Grand Canyon with no trail. I’m fine with no electricity and little food. I lost 40 pounds on that outing, but I’m fine with the physical challenges (to a degree) if I believe it will help me tell an important story .”

Pete's Colorado River travels lent themselves to a wide range of photo ops.

What’s Next:

Pete has spent the better part of the last 15 years shooting the Colorado River and is just finishing a book about the source-to-sea journey to highlight climate change, drought, and water rights.