IT SEEMS LIKE the oxymoron of travel media, but the less I travel the more I tend to produce. I’ve had a fixed address for more than 12 months for the first time in my adult life and I’ve published more travel photography, too, simply because I’ve been able to build relationships in person rather than via email.

When my local travel board, Tourism Jasper, needed a photographer to shoot the 2012 Canadian Yukigassen Championship, I submitted my bid and won the job.

Photography by Jeff Bartlett.



is a compound Japanese word, yuki (snow) and kassen (battle), used to qualify an epic snow battle as sport. Although it is most popular in Japan, national competitions are popping up in Finland, Norway, Australia, Sweden, USA, and Canada.


The Canadian Rockies Snow Battle

hosted in Jasper, Alberta, was the Canadian Championship.


The Ball Fondlers

was the name of the winning team. They hope to raise enough money to attend the world championships in Hokkaido, Japan.


Exact numbers

are critical to organized play. Teams have seven players. Courts measure 40m X 10m and shelters are 90 cm tall and 45 cm wide. Snowballs are between 2.5 and 2.75 inches. I find the mix of imperial and metric numbers quintessentially Canadian.



are made with a mold that produces 45 snowballs in seconds. I mourned the fact that these are not available at all public schools.



plays a critical role. Snowballs are best made with warm, moist snow. Because it was -15C (5F), the organizers allowed competitors to add water. I eyed the un-manned first aid tent with concern.



is won in three ways: killing all seven opponents by hitting them with a snowball; have more survivors than the opponent when time expires; by capturing the opposing team’s flag.



are settled with a shootout. Teams alternate shooters who each attempt to strike a target with a snowball from 6 m. I witnessed a single shootout and the target was a novelty beer mug. The first 14 players missed.



the event was my job. After I stuffed one lens full of snow and got pelted by a half-dozen snowballs, I silently question if I was the only person willing to forgo the beer tent and endure a day on the sidelines.