Profile: Lo Storer

By Dawne Belloise

“There’s always been a lot of transfer between Crested Butte and my Smugs,” Lo Storer says of her childhood home, Smugglers Notch, Vermont, a ski resort just on the other side of the mountain from Stowe. She notes that Backcountry Skier magazine is based in her hometown, so she already knew about CB when she moved here in 2009 and laughs, “Honestly, I was looking for a cowboy.” 

She was raised in a little chalet on the side of Smugglers Mountain by parents who were working at the resort, so she began skiing as soon as she could walk and grew up in ski school daycare. Lo spent a good deal of her time doing equestrian activities, horseback riding and showing horses English style, and in competitions across the state until she was 17. Riding was an impetus for her to come to Colorado, she says, “I wanted to ride Western. I hated English. It was too proper.” 

Growing up in a ski town, Lo liked that the mountains were the center of everything in her close-knit community and how, in a small town, when someone is lost everyone feels it, but when Lo lost her best friend in a car accident in 10th grade, it changed the course of her life. “When you deal with death that young, it shifts your priorities. I was on track to achieving more and going to a very good college. I played Olympic Development soccer, that was my thing, and I went all around the country doing that. When Emily died, it made me question what I actually wanted.” Lo made it through high school, graduating in 2006. 

Lo attended Johnson State College in Vermont, studying photography and environmental politics. In part, it’s what led her to go West. “Basically, I dropped the ball on everything and started raging. Nothing made sense anymore.” In 2009, Lo came to CB to work for her friend’s business, Escape Body Works. She also began volunteering for Adaptive Sports, helping with lessons. She enrolled at the Mountain Heart massage school and graduated from there in the fall of the 2009. 

By the spring of 2010, Lo had returned to Vermont to work at Riverberry Farms, one of the biggest organic farms in the state, planting, picking and packing. She utilized her massage experience, working as a massage therapist at Stowe Mountain Lodge, and riding her snowmobile over the mountain from Jeffersonville and back. “Jeffersonville is on the other side of the mountain and the road closes in the winter. It takes only 20 minutes by sled as opposed to driving one-and-a-half hours.” In the summers, she was back on the farm. Lo started her own landscaping business while working on the farm and doing massage. Three years later, she moved to Telluride.

In Telluride, Lo taught for Adaptive Sports while still doing massage and also working at a ski shop. “I lived up Lizard Head Pass close to Ophir. It was sketchy living up there because some nights the gate would come down when the avalanche danger was high so I couldn’t get home.” Luckily, she had a friend with a house in town. After the winter, Lo moved on to Moab in 2012, where she got a job at a bike shop and learned to mountain bike. “I loved it there but it got too hot and that’s when I moved back to CB.”

She was hired as a horseback riding guide for Fantasy Ranch and also worked in their office. She did the Crested Butte thing and got a dog, Cyrus. Pursuing photography, the following year Lo returned to Vermont to start her own business. “I finally found the bravery to move forward with my art,” making that leap of faith after she had previously broken her shoulder during a training with sit-ski and couldn’t farm or do massage therapy anymore. “So I went into photography professionally,” she says of her business, Lo Storer Photography. Her photography project, called “Beings of Yoga,” came about after Lo became a yoga teacher, completing 500 hours in Vermont, “I’ve been teaching seven years now.”

Lo decided to move to Montana to attend Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula in 2021, for a six-month intensive study. From there, she spent the autumn on a ranch on the Flathead Reservation. Lo had planned to return to Vermont, but she stopped in Crested Butte to see a couple friends on the way home in November of 2021. She wound up staying. “And here I am,” she laughs, “living in CB South and I think I’ve moved a total of 12 times since I got back. I was homeless and had stints where I had to stay with friends between places. But I’ve been primarily doing photography and I’ve done pretty well.” 

She returns to Vermont for her photography shoots every two or three months. “I do a lot of headshots and branding—small women-owned business branding. I did a lot of yoga photography in Vermont,” for which she became very well known, shooting brands like yoga clothing line Lululemon and Ladies AllRide, which holds mountain bike clinics all over the world out of Bend, Oregon.  

“I would like to stay and make it work here,” she says of CB. “I think the secret to that, for me, is continuing to take brand work that’s out of the valley. My passion is photographing outdoor adventure sports and outdoor lifestyle and that involves travel. I’m working on making that happen. I’ve always had a hard time making CB work. I partied too much and I’m always trying to piece it all together. I went back to Vermont and got sober. The valley is becoming way more supportive of sobriety, the sober community here is really phenomenal. It’s a big part of what keeps me here. It’s beautiful and magical and anytime I’ve moved away all I wanted was to get back,” she says and notes, “but it’s also like a vortex, a place where you come head to head with your shit. The good is amplified and the bad is amplified. Everything is so extreme and it’s challenging to find that balance point.”

Recently, Lo lost another dear friend. “Kelli Lightfoot passed this past November and I was part of her hospice team. Kelli was my best friend and she followed me out here from Vermont,” and Lo felt all those emotions from the death of her high school friend resurface. “What’s healing for me is nature at night.” Lo clicks into her Nordic skis to hit the Peanut Lake trail after dark, or she skins up the mountain. “I’m a big backcountry skier and that’s so healing. It’s calm and peaceful at night.”

Lo says she’s tried on a lot of hats since returning—running the CB Farmers Market last summer, teaching yoga at Thrive and she’s still an instructor at Adaptive Sports. However, photography is her mainstay. “I’m also a certified life coach and trying to make my life work here. I’m trying to put together a wilderness therapy program for kids and adults. Backcountry skiing and mountain biking are the things that have kept me sane and supported my mental health and taught me skills to manage life. There’s some crossover between photography and therapy and there’s therapeutic benefits to photography. I’m just trying to put it all together and see what comes out of it.”

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