Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cameras for Expeditions Part 1

Many people ask me what camera to use on expeditions, for the last 5 years I have been shooting with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2, and it was really perfect. Batteries lasted well, very wide lens for a point and shoot and easy to use. Many of my climbing partners are very happy with the Canon G10 or 11, but I have never used them. Finally I decided to upgrade this year to what I think is best described as a mini DSLR, the Sony NEX-5. There are a few competitors in the mini DSLR market, the Olympus version being the other best I think. I opted for the currently available package deal of the body with both fixed 16mm and 18-55mm lens (there is another lens up to 200mm but the price is too high and the wait too long - dare to dream), I bought via B&H Photo in NYC and as always was grateful for the best prices and service - I must say I had some trouble with other buying options, that are still not resolved.

The Sony NEX-5 is a massive upgrade with variable lenses and full HD video capabilities it can do everything I used to be able to do with the lumix - including a wider lens and what I only dreamed of being able to do with a DSLR (dreamed because I didn't have one). It is taking a bit of getting used to, hard to teach old mountain climbers new tricks I guess, but I am happy with what I have shot so far.

The top shot with the red clouds is from Ama Dablam BC this November, it is the last photo I took with the Lumix, it still takes great photos, the other (below) is the Palac Kultury i Nauki (Science and Culture Palace) in Warsaw, and is the first photo I took with the Sony NEX-5. Both were hand held, in low light - obviously one in lower light - but for just a quick attempt to capture an image they both did well. I am very happy, more samples to come.

RMNP Rando Ski

Europe is cold, and then warm, I shall be in the mountains in a few days in Austria, but I wanted to post a bit of video shot in RMNP when I was out skiing with my friend Brian. I had just returned from Nepal, and was still jet lagged (or perhaps these days I am just constantly jet lagged) and wanted badly to get out skiing. We had been out in some fun winds the previous days, but on this day we finally made some turns. In the video I talk a bit about some new clothes from Marmot, specifically the Trient and Varient Jacket and Protour Pant. More video to come from Europe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Plastic and Feathers!"

"Plastic and feathers, it is only plastic and feathers, there is no
difference anymore between products and companies!" a very
enthusiastic shop owner I visited last week decried. I stood there and
nodded my head, what else could I do, he was giving me a great deal on
some product. I left the shop wondering is it all just plastic and
feathers? As soon as I pulled up to the door at the 'home for wayward
climbers' where UPS drops off samples and prototypes from the
companies I test for I was shocked to see what was definitely not just
feathers and plastic. At one of the trade shows last year, Marmot sat
a good number of the athlete team down for a chat to see what products
we would really like to use and have. While some of us were a bit
skeptical that any product would appear from the meeting, I had
supreme confidence (read I was the head of skeptics), and there a few
months later, on the floor, lay several huge boxes full of products.
Plastic and feathers? Yes, but plastic and feathers with alot of
thought, engineering and honestly feedback from the team. Amazing I
thought, they are listening.
Delayed and cancelled flights have given me the time to sit and relax
- if you find sitting at the airport for 12 hours before they tell you
that you cannot fly to your destination for another 4 days relaxing -
and meet some very interesting people. Only in the Denver airport can
you meet a Polish diplomat, an IT person for a badminton company,
professional free-skiers and their camera crew, another guy from
boulder who skis and climbs and an irate Hindu holding British
Airlines responsible for the phenomenal snowfall and airport closures
across Europe.

I will be skiing, climbing, guiding, rando-racing and recovering from
a long himalayan year for the next couple of months, many photos,
videos and blogs to come!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cholatse Spring 2011 Expedition

Join me on Cholatse (6440m) in Nepal this coming spring! This commercial expedition in the heart of the Khumbu region in Nepal is 30 days long, from March 15 to April 13. The route - the right hand skyline in the photo - combines glacier travel, rock, snow and ice. Cholatse has been called the quiet Ama Dablam, and offers perhaps even more spectacular views from the summit. For more information please see and for any questions please email
I look forward to climbing with you this spring!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Ski season is in full swing here in Colorado, while I have been rando skiing (ski touring) alot in RMNP many people have been getting after what seems to be the most fun you can have in the mountains - the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup. I had lunch with the promoter yesterday, Pete Swenson, who got me really psyched for some of the races - who also gave me a great deal with some Dynafit Skis ( and Bindings( with the help of Ian, Drew, Sarah and Chris at the office). I am really psyched as I am now running a pair of the Dynafit World Cup Carbon Race Skis with Low Tech Lite Binding, and a pair of Broad Peaks with TLT Vertical ST (I like these as i have a range of boots from light racing to high altitude guiding that I can use with them), combined with my Scarpa F1 Race ( boots and all of the race specific gloves, helmet, and backpack from CAMP ( - yikes, it seems my only excuse is not enough training. Oh well, I have been saying alot lately that rando skiing is the most fun you can have in the mountains, hands down - saying it ALOT. To see photos from the race this past weekend and to see a bunch of tech tips on rando and racing check out

Friday, December 10, 2010

More Ama Dablam and Island Peak Photos

Our group was very strong and motivated, luckily we managed to pick very good summit days for both Ama Dablam and Island Peak. Top: Michael and Roger lead the team on the way to Island Peak Summit. Second: Ruud just below the summit ridge of Island Peak. Third: View over the khumbu at sunrise at 6100m, with the shadow of Everest cast over the horizon. Bottom: Sunset over the Khumbu.

Summit Morning on Island Peak

Matching crowns: Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam

It is very interesting to note the two crowns, top Cho Oyu, bottom Ama Dablam - both at almost the same altitudes (6400m) - at almost the same time of year, at the same aspects, same height - 1 meter. The shapes are beautiful, but the consequences can be deadly.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ama Dablam and Island Peak Summits!

The photos are from this November in the Khumbu Valley. I had a really great group for both Island Peak and Ama Dablam. We were very lucky I was able to call upon some personal contacts for a great forecast that let us sneak up and down with relatively low (30K) winds. The days on either side of the 26th - our Ama Dablam summit day - were very windy; they were far from ideal. I will post some pictures of the crowns from Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam in the coming days, they look amazingly similar. Panda Power!