Robyn and I headed up to Whistler/Blackcomb today and boy was it a lot of fun. The conditions were most excellent, with bluebird skies, some trace of new snow and awesome sunshine all day.
By now most people know that Whistler/Blackcomb is home to many of the Alpine events for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Which is quite evident when driving up into Whistler itself. Various Olympic graphics are being put on the various fencing and tents, security measures are becoming a bit more evident and you can now see a Military presence. The snow base is great though, so no need to truck or fly in snow like one of our local mountains has to do.
Now in previous times when Robyn and I have gone up to Whistler/Blackcomb, Cypress or even Grouse Mountain, I tend to take Robyn’s Pentax Optio W10 point and shoot camera. Why? Well the main factor is that it is waterproof. Dropping it in the snow or getting wet isn’t a big deal. It also easily fits into one of my various pockets which makes it easier to use than a typical digital SLR camera such as my Canon 7D or my smaller Canon 450D (Digital Rebel XSi).
Today was different, because I bought a Canon 7d, I now have an extra camera body. I thought about bringing my Canon 450D up with us to the mountains but falling on the camera has always been a fear of mine. Not from hurting myself mind you, but breaking the camera and leaving me camera-less. Today I brought along the Canon 450D along with the EF 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS kit lens. I used my 2L water backpack which happens to have enough room to fit my Canon XSi, the battery grip attached as well as the kit lens. I was stoked! In fact, I slept horribly because I was so excited to try and take my camera up with me!
Now I don’t know how many of you reading this actually Ski or Snowboard, let along carry anything with you when you do it. This was my first time and at first it was a bit awkward having that extra little weight on my back. I quickly got used to it and it felt normal.
We parked up at Base 2 (Parking Lot 6 on the Blackcomb side), geared up and headed up the Excalibur Gondola. From the Excalibur Gondola you head over to the Excelerator Express Chair. This is where I first took out the Canon XSi and started taking a few photos.
I fully strapped myself into my board and we proceeded down towards Glacier Creek Lodge. Robyn wanted to hit up 7th Heaven right away, so we did just that. At first it was a bit weird to have the extra weight, but that feeling quickly subsided as I twisted and turned down towards Glacier Creek Lodge.
We headed up Jersey Cream Express to where Rendezvous Lodge is located. We ducked down Expressway and entered 7th Heaven from below. By this time I barely even notice the small backpack and camera on my back.
The great thing about getting to Whistler/Blackcomb so early, is that there is virtually no one at the lift lines and a few people actually on the runs. Though I am sure it’s not like Fresh Tracks.
Once we got up to Horstman Hut the sun was out, the clouds were far away and the snow was great.
It was time to head down into the first main run of our day, we decided to take Cloud Nine as it seems everyone else was heading towards Hugh’s Heaven.
Cloud Nine was great even if it wasn’t a groomed run. The snow was nice and soft, there was some small patches of deeper snow too, which is always fun of course!
We cruised on down to the 7th Heaven lift and went up again. We did Cloud Nine and Panorama a few times before heading over to Glacier Creek Lodge for some lunch. Though before heading out, Robyn tried to capture me snowboarding down Panorama.
Ah so much fun. No I didn’t fall, I was waiting for Robyn to put the camera away and hand the backpack over. Though I did find riding without the backpack was weird and I felt off balanced. I think from this point on, I shall always have a dSLR with me on the mountain.
To get back to Rendezvous Lodge we took the Green Line out of 7th Heaven. We went past the lodge and headed back down to Glacier Creek Lodge for lunch. Robyn and I had a delicious lunch and rested for a little bit before proceeding back outside. At this time it seems that clouds were beginning to roll in and the sun was falling behind the mountains. We headed down Zig-Zig took the Excelerator Express chair back up to Glacier Creek Lodge.
Headed up the Jersey Creme Express and down past Rendezvous Lodge. Robyn suggested we head towards the Big Easy Terrain Garden as she knows I want to take photos of people taking jumps, rails and such. We just went through the park, didn’t stop to take photos as I felt a bit awkward doing so. I’m fine for taking photos when I’ve been asked to do it, such as the time I went up to photograph the LG FIS WorldCup 2009 events at Cypress Mountain, or when I photographed the events at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival last year too, but when it comes to taking photos of random people I tend to be a bit shy. I want to work up the courage to do it, I need to hang out at the terrain parks more often and take people photo’s right? People want to be photographed showing off their mad skillz in the parks right? That would be awesome!
At this point I was getting tired, I accidentally went through some massive mogul area (Sluiceway) up at 7th Heaven and that tuckered me out for the rest of the day. From the Big Easy Terrain Garden we headed back down to Base 2 and drove home.
It was an awesome day. Great snow, great weather and of course it is always fun riding along side Robyn. I was such a good ROI I think!
Some other photos from today:
From a photography standpoint, using my dSLR was just amazing for the results. Being able to control the finer aspects of the camera’s settings I think can help make a photo a little bit better. The great thing about so much sun was I could get away with using a lower ISO, smaller aperture and faster shutter speed. I don’t remember the last time I could shoot at ISO 100-200 with an aperture of f16 and still get shutter speeds above 1/500th of second.
Perhaps I’ll work my way up to bring along my Canon 7D, but for now the Canon 450D works perfectly fine for this sort of thing. Well except for getting action shots. While Robyn was trying to photograph me coming down Panorama, the buffer filled up (it doesn’t have much of a buffer to begin with) and there were some great shots missed. Though I do like what she did manage to capture.
When I get more into it, I can look at purchasing one of those Burton Camera Backpacks or perhaps one from F-Stop. Then I can bring more camera gear with me, though I’ll probably have to get into better shape to carry a 28L pack while riding the slopes. I can hang out around the Terrain parks at the various ski mountains we have and work on my portfolio and experience! After all, I’m not too shabby with a camera, right?