In the foothills of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, the leaves were already changing, taking on a fluorescent yellow so bright it could only come from nature. Forest Woodward couldn't be happier. The Brooklyn-based adventurer and photographer travels the world in search of dramatic natural scenes and the people who thrive in them. Over the past year, he's shots in six countries and more than 20 states, publishing his stunning photos in magazines like Outside, Esquire, and National Geographic Adventure.
For the contemporary photographer, staying connected is essential. But in Woodward's case, it's rarely easy, thanks to his taste for far-flung locales and unspoiled scenery. But on this trip, he was in an OnStar®-equipped¹ vehicle, setting out on a climbing trip in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
Woodward was climbing with his friend Jenny Abegg, a professional rock climber based in Washington state. "We started out climbing in the hills right above Boulder," Woodward said. "We climbed in the Flatirons and camped out up there for the night." Though the pair was just a stone's throw from the city, cell reception was spotty at best. Navigating the winding mountain roads was left to OnStar.
Woodward and Abegg ventured deeper into the mountains, passing through the town of Nederland and into Rocky Mountain National Park. The pair had their sights set on a route called "Spearhead." The climb is famous in the area, but getting there is no small task. "We drove until the road ended," Woodward said. "Once the road stopped, we hiked on further up the mountain to get to the spot."
"Working on stories and being able to communicate with editors and send them photos as we go is really helpful and important," Woodward said. Thanks to OnStar's built-in 4G-LTE Wi-Fi® hotspot², Woodward and Abegg were able to tweet, text, email, and stream from the vehicle. With a full-powered mobile office, Woodward can get on-site feedback from editors and clients.
"It's fun to be able to bring people along for the journey."
"I tell a lot of my stories through social media channels, so being able to stay connected and send out photos and updates is a privilege," Woodward said. "It’s fun to be able to bring people along for the journey."
Being off the grid, an emergency can present an especially perilous situation — especially when hundred-foot rock faces are involved. "Theoretically, we could have called in an emergency from the car, which could have been helpful," said Woodward, who didn't have to make use of OnStar's emergency services. "It gives you peace of mind heading into more remote areas to have that connectivity."
After a few days of climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park, Woodward and Abegg returned to the city. "We were able to do a lot of climbing in a short amount of time," Woodward said of the trip. Shooting on location, posting and sharing photos from near where they were shot not only aided Woodward's workflow, it allowed him to tell stories as they happened. Now the only thing to do is plan the next trip.
1. Visit onstar.com for coverage map, details and system limitations. Services vary by model.
2. Available 4G LTE Wi-Fi requires compatible mobile device, active OnStar service and data plan. Visit onstar.com for details and system limitations.