Saturday, 30 April 2016

Ice and Cameras

So after the excitement with the bears and long journeys to the Staunings Alps, we had a totally different week last week - and quite pleasant too.

We had to do a product photo shoot for Berghaus and each had bags and bags of cloths to wear, so the cameraman, Matt, could shoot us in different situations using the clothing. There were six sets, all carefully colour co-ordinated and chosen by the marketing team. Matt had a comprehensive brief detailing what activities were required for each set and what was required from every shoot. He had three days to do all this and was incredibly professional and organised. A pleasure to work with.

Unfortunately all these bags full of clothes were given out to us at the Iceman introduction along with a Berghaus jacket for the competitors. It looked like we were being given loads of free kit, which was a bit embarrassing. We found out later that it all had to go back to Berghaus!
The activities ranged from ski touring, ice climbing, mountaineering, hut life and glacier travel. The shots had to show all the clothing features such as lightness and warmth etc. We also had to show grit and determination on our faces and give the impression of a harsh environment, which of course it was.

My knowledge of the area was useful in being able to direct Matt to suitable locations for each day, which he appreciated.

The first day we found an iceberg at the east end of Kalkdal in Horsens Fjord. My job, once I had deemed it safe, was to climb this thing for the camera, rig up a top rope for Matt to get into position, then climb it again for the camera and then get everyone else up on a top rope and then de-rig the thing and get off.

Starting up the arete
Beth showing how its done
All good fun; I had no ice climbing gear with me at all. I wish I'd known to bring some. I borrowed Matt's boots - size 9 (I'm size 7!) the best crampons I could find in Paul gear barrel and Matt's ice axes - DMM Flys. They were sharp, but that was all. Not what you would call a technical ice climbing axe - straight shafts and no leashes. The only good thing was that there were a good selection of BD Express ice screws in the gear barrel, one of the best ice screws there currently is.

Ist ascent
2nd ascent for camera
I set off and thankfully the ice was good and not too steep up this iceberg arete. I climbed it again with Matt at the top this time and he got some good shots. Darren, Mike Beth and Debs all climbed it in their kit and it was late in the evening when I finally stripped the ropes and abseiled back down anchored at the top by a bit of prussik cord through an ice thread. Even that was problematic as I had nothing to pull the thread through the hole with, but we found a bit of wire in the 'doo repair box which did the trick.
Abbing off on ice thread
Retrieving ropes
The next day we went to a hut and filmed us lighting a stove, ski touring and mountaineering up a little ridge at the entrance to Kalkdal. I also knew of this narrow gorge at the entrance, which was full of snow ridges with drops and steep windtails. We had great fun trying to ski up and down this thing over all the drops while trying to show grit and determination and not smile!

Lighting a stove inside Kalkdal hut
Darren showing the latest colours
Beth negotiating the gorge trying not to smile
The last day was more ice climbing and Matt wanted to go to the glacier cliff where the Iceman race had camped at the east end of Kalkdal.

The weather wasn't so good this day with flat light all the way. I got Mike to lead us though the valley on his last day out before he left us.  Following the tracks was really hard in the flat light and at one point he lost them just as the track went left to a avoid a small cornice. He went straight over it! The last thing Beth saw, who was following, was her Dad disappearing in a cloud of snow. No harm done, he got out of the hole and we reversed ourselves out, back on the track.

Mike - survived the cornice!
At the glacier, I chose a fantastic looking line up a steep face with a bit of an ice fall down it. We could walk to the top of this one and set up the anchor and rope for Matt to film. I set off and got to the the steep part half way up. I thought it would be steep, but this bulge was overhanging! The ice was hard making it very difficult to put ice screws in and with Matt's straight axes, my arms were soon giving out and I had to rest on a screw. Matt came to the rescue and placed screws above me to give me protection. I set off again, only to nearly blow it when my glove got caught in the karabiner while trying to clip the crucial runner on the steep bit. With my arms giving out and my eyes bulging, Matt said he got just the shot he wanted!

Gearing up
Roping up

On the hard bit
The angle eased and I got to the top. Everyone else then climbed it on a top rope, doing really well as no one else had done much ice climbing and some were in ski boots!

More shots of glacier travel, bits of clothing detail and it was a wrap! Hopefully we may get some of Matt's shots at sometime in the future. He said we deserved them for all the effort we put in!

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