Private Helicopter Engagements | Wasatch Mountains, Utah
the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers
Adventurous Private Helicopter Elopement-Style Portraits with Caroline Gleich and Rob Lea (less than a month after they summited Mount Everest together!) in the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah
I have to admit, I’ve been a fan of Caroline’s for a long time. She’s a professional skier, mountaineer, and all around badass lady making a real difference in the world of women’s equality and environmental sustainability on a large scale. When Caroline and Rob first got engaged, I secretly hoped they’d reach out to us about doing an adventure session, so when Caroline messaged me on Instagram asking about our availability, I was SO psyched! Well, as it turns out, aligning our two very busy schedules was much harder than we imagined! With our on-the-road timeline being in and out of Utah all year, and Caroline and Rob’s wild schedule traveling around the world for various epic adventures, we couldn’t find time to get together in the same place! After they set off for Mount Everest (yes — more on that later), I figured our chances of making a shoot happen were over since we’d be out for the summer before they got back, and we wouldn’t be in Utah again until after their August wedding in the mountains near Salt Lake City. Welllll I ended up planning a last-minute trip out to SLC to visit my friend Bri for a week, and contacted Caroline three days before telling her I was open to do a shoot if they could swing it that Tuesday!! An absolute miracle — they’d be in town and they were available, so we got to planning! Caroline ended up borrowing an epic Chantel Lauren Designs dress and we brainstormed location ideas until Caroline reached out to her friend about getting a ride in his helicopter!!! It all came together so well, we seriously couldn’t believe how perfectly everything worked out.
Caroline and Rob are such an inspirational couple. Surprisingly, they met in a pretty normal way — Rob had been following Caroline’s best friend Brooke on instagram and he saw the two of them walk by on a girl date in Park City one day. Shortly after, Brooke posted a photo of them on her IG and Rob replied, saying something along the lines of “not to be creepy, but I’m sitting near you” Wellll turns out it felt pretty creepy to Caroline, BUT she checked him out online and gave him a chance and they ended up going on a date. They have done so much together and supported each other on so many major accomplishments. Last year, Caroline proposed to Rob on top of Cho Oyu, a 26,906 foot mountain in the Himalayas (and then they skied down!!). Then, this year they climbed Mount Everest together! As if planning an epic wedding isn’t enough of an accomplishment ;) In fact, Rob then swam the English Channel two months later and became the first person to summit Mt Everest and swim the English Channel in one year. He is also currently biking across America in this month, which will complete his self-declared “World Triatholon.” They’re basically textbook-definition power couple!
For their engagement session in Utah we met up at their house and did a few casual in-home photos first. Caroline explained that while they travel so much, this house is their sacred space that they love coming back to. It’s super important for them to have a place they belong, especially traveling and spending nights in so many places around the world. After we did some photos in their home, we piled in the car and made our way to the airport to meet up with our helicopter pilot, Matt! But not without a quick stop for street tacos (so good). As we got ready for the helicopter, Caroline was a bit nervous, but as soon as we took off her face was nothing but stoke!! It was such an epic flight, and we landed in a couple of gorgeous spots for photos. We all marveled at how green and lush everything was! And when we landed on an epic ridge in the Wasatch Mountains for sunset, we couldn’t get over the incredible 360 degree views all around us. It was quite windy, and I kept asking Caroline if she was too cold, needed a jacket break, etc out of habit, but then remembered she had climbed Mount Everest soooo yeah, she was just fine on a chilly ridge in Utah in July…
It was honestly SUCH a fun evening, and I was so so so glad we were finally able to make it happen. I have to say, I was pretty nervous to meet these two after looking up to them on social media for so long, but as soon as I walked in the door those nerves melted away because they’re both just so kind. They’re extremely humble, and constantly asked questions about me, my own passions, and encouraged me as I shared my own outdoor pursuits. In the outdoor world, it’s so easy to find people that are “spray-lords” and love to brag about everything they’ve done, but Caroline and Rob are so different. They’re so humble, welcome, and kind. Caroline was quick to encourage my relatively small climbing goals, encourage me to ski even though “blues” at a resort terrify me, and build me up as an athlete — which was pretty wild coming from someone as accomplished as her! I so appreciate these two, their amazing accomplishments, and even more so, their positive impact on the world around them. I couldn’t be more stoked for this session, and the friendship we built through it!
The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.