UPSIDE DOWN | The Bird Blog - Arc'teryx
"Rather than focusing on what the mountains had given me over the years, suddenly all I thought about was everything that I had to lose."
Words by Izzy Lynch, Photography by Zoya Lynch

UPSIDE DOWN

Sisters Zoya Lynch, photographer, and Izzy Lynch, skier, face a moment of existential doubt. 13,000 km from home, in a New Zealand mountain setting, each rediscovers her way.

For as long as I can remember, mountains have been the place where I felt right and skis have been my vehicle to access energy, motivation and inspiration. Fortunately I have been able to gather the support that allows me to dedicate much of my time to being out there, setting goals, achieving objectives, and building strength with each season.

Recently however, a string of close calls, lost friends and nagging injuries infected my mind with doubt. Risk. Injury. Death. Questioning. Rather than focusing on what the mountains had given me over the years, suddenly all I thought about was everything that I had to lose. An opportunity to explore the magic of New Zealand’s Southern Alps with my sister could not have come at a more perfect time.

I felt a bit wary showing up on another continent with my skis and no set objectives. But Zoya, a photographer and artist, reminded me that strict itineraries often mean missed opportunities and we should just go with the flow. Our first hit was Black Peak Hut. It was a place of contrasts; nothing but white peaks in one direction and dry valleys in the other.

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For the first time in a long while, the mountains felt like home.

As kids we tromped around alpine meadows at our family cabin on backcountry ski trips, changing direction whenever we saw a fun cliff to jump off, or a cave to explore, or a nice spot for lunch. Every day was a grand adventure, but it was never about the lines we would ski or objectives we would accomplish. It was about play and letting the mountains guide us, getting fresh air and spending time with each other.
Zoya’s camera lead us north, from Arthur’s Pass to the club fields and Mount Temple. Before we knew it, a week had gone by, in the company of new friends, new lines and beautiful light. For the first time in a long while, the mountains felt like home. Inspired by my sister’s motivation to capture the beauty of New Zealand’s landscape, our journey had helped me let go of the pressure to constantly push harder and further, and to appreciate where I was. By going down under, I landed right side up.

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Izzy Lynch

I grew up in the city, but the mountains are most certainly what raised me. Driving to and fro between the concrete jungle of Calgary, AB to the frosty peaks, icy rivers and wildflower-filled meadows of the Canadian Rockies weekend after weekend as a child ingrained a deep appreciation for all the freedom and comforts that the wilderness provides...

Read Izzy's Bio