Climbing

Canon G10 – Climbing Camera Review

Hand-1.jpgI picked up the Canon G10 for a trip to the States where I would be traveling between San Diego and Los Angeles, including a mountain excursion to San Jacinto, and it seemed like the right time to buy. However, as I live in Switzerland and am sometimes active in the mountains, I’ve started taking the G10 on climbing and mountaineering excursions. This is my functional climbing review of the G10 as a mountaineering camera. A climbing camera needs to be as small and functional as possible. Climbing partners sometimes get pissed if you bring a Fuji GA645 or Sony A900 up north ridges. I’ve reviewed the Ricoh GR Digital (GRD) for climbing in the Swiss Alps, so it seemed like a good idea to do the same with my Canon G10.


Why the Canon G10?


First, from a specs perspective, why the G10? The G10 sports a 28-140mm lens in 35mm format. This gives good coverage for landscape and telephoto for portraits. In addition it shoots RAW and has a 14.7 Megapixel sensor. This is a pretty sweet combination of features, topped off by the fact that the manual control interface is almost as good as the Ricoh cameras (GRD, GRD-II, GX100/200). So far I’ve shot with the G10 in the San Jacinto wilderness in California, on a bike-mountain tour on Glarnish, sport climbing in Ticcino, and up the Braunwald klettersteig in the Swiss Alps. In general, it works very well for climbing. The battery last forever, even when the temperature drops below zero an I’m shooting sunset shots in the snow. It records RAW files instantly, and I barley have to wait before taking another shot. The manual interface is nice, allowing full camera control, exposure compensation, ISO settings, etc with a few movements of my fingers.

Braunwald-1.jpg

When you’re actually climbing (not setting up shots of other climbers), a camera is really only functional if it can be used with one hand. You occasionally get to use two, but most of the time at least one hand needs to be on the rock or rope belay. This is where the Ricoh still beats the Canon design. The Ricoh GRD can be almost completely controlled with the right hand. Using the custom function button you have full access to file format, exposure compensation, ISO setting, macro focus, flash, metering area, shutter speed, aperture, pretty much everything the camera can do. With the Canon G10, you have the speed wheel, which acts to control shutter or aperture and choose things in menus. Exposure compensation is on a click wheel on the top left of the camera, ISO selection is on a click wheel on right, while flash, macro mode, and menus can be controlled with the right hand using buttons near the speed wheel. From a control layout, the Canon G10 doesn’t measure up to the Ricoh GRD. The Ricoh is king in user interface design.


San_Jacinto-1


G10 vs. GRD


The main problem with the G10 interface is that exposure compensation can’t be controlled with the right hand while holding the camera. Further, ISO is controlled by the click wheel, which isn’t as easy to do as with the Ricoh. This is important for small sensor cameras, because if you over-expose the highlight areas, you easily get a blown out image, instead of a properly exposed one. It’s easy to avoid blown highlights by checking the live histogram and dropping the exposure on the Ricoh. But with the Canon G10 you have click the exposure wheel on the top left of the camera body, something which isn’t easy if you’re left hand is occupied holding your body to a rock face. If you have to pick between bodily injury and exposure compensation, you should choose the former, or get a new digital camera. This limitation can be sidestepped by shooting in aperture or shutter speed mode, but I still find it limiting. If the G10 had the ability to press a button and choose these things like the Ricoh does, it would be a much more functional camera in the mountains – and for implementation that’s nothing more but a firmware addition by the Canon people. Still, I’ve very much enjoyed taking the G10 on mountain trips. It’s reasonably small, the picture quality is excellent, and I wonder why people feel the need to buy a Rebel DSLR when the G10 will probably give all the quality and functionality which most people need in a camera.

Flowers_Bokeh-1.jpg

Macro Goodness


The G10 includes a macro mode, much like every other digicam. In the late spring and early summer the mountain wild flowers take over after the snows melt away, and Braunwald is known as a sort of mountain flower paradise. It’s nearly impossible to walk around the place without killing at least a few violet or yellow beauties with your boots. Naturally I had to stop and take a few generic flower photos. As I had packed light on this trip, I didn’t use any strobes, and instead used the on-board flash for a bit of fill. To take this flower photos I dialed in a an exposure compensation of about minus 1/2 or minus 1 and focused on the middle of the flower patch.  The bokeh from the G10 is actually fairly nice. For these close-up macro type images the blurred background doesn’t distract from the sharp part of the image. The on-board flash does a good job of adding just enough light and not overpowering the exposure, of course, it’s best to control this using the exposure dial. When you have two hands free to operate the camera it’s very easy the intuitive to dial in manual camera settings and fine-tune the exposure, I just wish it was a tad easier to do with just one hand.


Beyond Snap Shots


The mountains beg for landscapes, I sometimes shoot with a GigaPan, but it’s far too bulky and heavy for most of my mountain trips. I sometimes shoot with a tripod and pan, other times I just rotate the camera and guess that I’m keeping the nodal point reasonably centered. I process my panoramas in PTGui Pro, which works equally well stitching two or two hundred images together.


Pano_800px.jpgI took the G10 on my climb up the Eggstock in Braunwald. This is a klettersteig climb, you don’t have to worry about having a climbing partner and can cruise up the mountain with ease. I used the G10 to shoot perspective images, document the climb, and take a few landscapes. Generally I had the G10 slung in front of my, and shot with one hand while holding on to the rock with my left. After climbing up the Eggstock klettersteig I continued along the blue alpine route, which follows the ridge of the mountain, eventually leading up to Bos Fulen. If you follow this ridge it eventually becomes as wide as a pair of La Sportiva Trango S mountaineering boots. I took this time, standing on the edge between a moderately dangerous tumble on my right, and a suicide-sure-to-be-dead fall on my left to shoot a quick panorama. Yes I was wearing a harness, no it wasn’t connected to anything which would have saved me (sorry mom). Yes the rock in this area is a tad sketchy, and I soon decided to climb down rather than to continue and risk the rock collapsing under me, hoping I would fall to my right rather than the 600m drop-off to my left. You don’t want to be fiddling with camera settings when you’re trying to take a panorama like this. If you get distracted and forget to balance it’s rather easy to kill yourself, so I was happy that I was able to easily meter the scene using the live histogram, lock exposure with manual settings, and take a succession of shots for the final panorama before coming to my senses and descending.


Aside from the handling and image making capabilities, the G10 produces decent files for post-processing.  The resolution of the G10 matches and exceeds that of many DSLRs, but it’s the ability to manipulate shadows and the textures of life which fascinates me. The post-processing capability of images is where small sensor cameras deviate from DSLRs.  With better rendering of shadows and capturing the dynamic range of a scene.  This is where a camera like the Minolta 7D excels compared with, say the Canon G7. In the first two images featured here, I processed the images in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS3. Generally if you post-process small-sensor images, you can manipulate the shadows a bit, but pushing the exposure too much in Photoshop will blow everything out and you end up with a mess. With the G10 images, I can add a black+white conversion layer to bring out the shadows and the desaturate a bit and kick up the exposure a bit to bring out the clouds.


Happy?


So, is the Canon G10 a sweet mountaineering/climbing camera? Yes, I would say that it is. The combination of functionality and image quality is really fantastic. In the Alps it’s easy to have fantastic weather, and the G10 takes beautiful images when the light is right and you don’t have a huge span from light to dark in your image. The flash works well to balance the exposure when you have a foreground subject in the shade and the background is bright and beautiful. I hardly ever use the viewfinder, and enjoy composing with the LCD, getting the exposure right with the histogram and then snapping a photo. The battery life is excellent, and I have not experienced any battery drain issues associated with cold temperatures, something which is a huge short-coming of my Ricoh GRD. With the Ricoh I have to keep the battery warm in my jacket before shooting, and with the G10 I can just shoot away.


I’m eager to see what comes from the niew micro 4/3 sensor cameras. The new Olympus E-P1 digital Pen camera will no doubt be a serious contender for my next mountaineering camera, likely with better dynamic range than the G10. But don’t count out Ricoh. Word on the digital street is that Ricoh is entering the micro 4/3’s arena with a small DSLR type camera, which will for sure be a sweet climibing camera, especially if they’re excellent user interface deisgn is retained.

Ricoh GR Digital – Climbing Review

Fuji GA645wi Ricoh GR DigitalOne reason I bought the Ricoh GR Digital (GRD) was to use as a climbing and mountaineering camera. What follows is a user review and my impressions of the GRD in the mountain environment.


I live in Switzerland and mountain trips are frequently on my schedule. A basic day trip involves an elevation gain (and equally large loss) of 800-1200 meters, and involves hiking, rock scrambling or sections of actual climbing. This means that any weight savings makes a difference in terms of how fast and how far I can go on any given trip. It also means that if I want to use a camera, I don’t always have the benefit of using two hands when taking a picture. Sometimes trips just need to be documented, a shot for the blog, or just to record the day. Other times I go with the intention of bringing back some good-looking, printable photos. My current list of cameras includes: Contax G1 (28,45,90mm lenses), Fuji GA645, GA645wi, Minolta 7D.


In general, none of these cameras have been ideal in the mountains, although the Fuji GA cameras come pretty close to being perfect for landscapes. The Contax G1/G2 is a good choice, but if I’m just documenting a trip, then I don’t need or want to go through the costs of processing 35mm film, and then taking the time to scan the images. Plus, while 35mm film can produce some very nice detail and colors, it leaves me wanting more for landscapes. The Fuji GA645 and GA645wi are my favorite film cameras for mountaineering, but (aside from the developing costs) they don’t have a close focusing distance, which only makes them good for landscape shots, and is not ideal for focusing on close objects. The Minolta 7D is great, but generally needs to be accessed from my backpack and can’t be comfortably held with one hand for shooting purposes. Plus, a 7D with lenses is not a light kit to carry into the hills.


Climbing Ricoh GR Digital GRDFrom a certain perspective, the Ricoh GRD was seemingly made for mountaineers. The fixed 28mm and 21mm add-on lenses are ideal for landscapes and the camera is incredibly compact. In fact, it’s not a stretch to call the Ricoh GRD (and GRD-II) as well as the GX100/GX200 some of the most compact wide-angle cameras on the market. In addition, the GRD is incredibly light. The Contax G1/G2 is also a compact camera, but it isn’t really light from a pack-weight point of view.


My first mountain trip with the Ricoh GRD was up Mt. Fuji in Japan, where I also took my Fuji GA645wi. The Ricoh performed wonderfully, but since Mt. Fuji can’t really be considered more than a hike, it wasn’t until I got back to mountaineering in Switzerland that I could get a feeling for how the GRD performs in a mountain touring environment, which is the focus of this article.


To date, I’ve taken my GRD ice climbing, mountain touring in Graubünden, hiking up Säntis in the Alpstein, and climbing on a klettersteig in Braunwald. I plan on ascending some higher peaks and undertaking some longer tours soon and think the GRD will be up to snuff. There are a few main criteria I’ll be focusing on including how well the GRD can be operated while climbing, it’s attributes such as the LCD screen, and creating good exposures in the mountains.


Braunwald Klettersteig Ricoh GRDOperation – One of the GRD’s strengths has always been customization and user control. I can hold the camera up to a scene, automatically see if the histogram looks good, and if not, two small clicks on the exposure compensation button and I know I can take a picture without blowing away the highlights. Similarly, the ISO, focusing mode, file type/size, shutter speed, and aperture can all be changed within a few seconds using one-handed operation. I can’t do that with any other camera I own without the risk of dropping the camera. While seemingly unimportant or at best a convenience for city use, when one hand is holding onto the mountainside, one-handed operation really does make the difference between possibly falling or getting the shot I want. With the GRD I can easily have my left hand secured on a handhold while operating the camera with my right hand.


Image Quality – As a small sensor camera, the Ricoh GR Digital obviously can’t compare with DSLRs or medium format film cameras for image quality. However, you don’t always need a perfect landscape image worthy of pixel-peeping. For trip documenting and small prints, the Ricoh GRD does pretty good. When the images are exposed correctly the contain a great deal of detail and you won’t have a problem creating large prints. Small sensor camera image quality degrades as ISO increases, however, in the mountain environment you generally have more than enough natural sunlight to create exposures with shutter speeds above 1/200 using ISO 64 (the base ISO of the GRD). Since these landscapes will nearly always be with a low ISO, noise won’t be much of an issue. I love the colors I get from GRD files and so long as the images aren’t over-exposed you’ll be pleased with the results.


Braunwald Towards OrtstockRAW Write Time – This is by far the greatest drawback of the original GRD. When deciding to buy the GRD, one of the biggest draws was its ability to write RAW files at a time when pretty much every other pocket camera would only do jpeg. Depending on SD card type, the time to write a RAW file is about 9-12 seconds using the original GR Digital. Many users have produced reports detailing which cards write faster, but generally the difference is only a few seconds at best, and the three cards I have all write at different speeds. Depending on your shooting style, for landscape use the RAW write time is sort of irrelevant. With the exception of creating multiple images for stitched panoramas, I haven’t found the long write time to be a significant problem for landscape images. On the other hand, when you’re moving fast over a mountain landscape and trying to document the climb, I would no doubt love the improved RAW write time of the GX100/GX200 and GRD-II, which from what I read are on the order of 4-5 seconds.


Battery Life – At least with the GRD (not considering the GRD-II as I haven’t used one) the battery life and performance could be better. I find that I’m always getting low by the end of a climb, and although I always carry a second battery, this is one area that I would like to see improvement in. For multi-day trips nothing sucks more than running out of juice, which is one reason I still love my Fuji GA and other film cameras, as I’ve never had a similar battery problem. Cold also seems to be an issue, and hampered by ability to use the GRD while ice climbing during December.


LCD Screen – The LCD screen on the GRD leaves much to be desired in the mountain environment. It just sucks in bright sunlight, and is only good for framing the subject. I do have the external viewfinder, and I’m glad I bought it, but don’t use it very much in the mountains. Since the live histogram is available (and easy to see in sunlight), I’m of the opinion that having a perfect image on the LCD screen isn’t really a big deal. More exact framing can be accomplished with the aid of the external viewfinder. Here’s the thing, If you can monitor the histogram, you know if the highlights will be blown and can adjust the exposure as you like. It doesn’t really matter if you have a bright, perfectly defined image when framing a shot. Often times upon review, the images on the GRD LCD screen look extremely dark in bright sun, but when reviewed later indoors, the images are perfect. As long as you base your exposure on the live histogram, the quality of the image on the LCD is somewhat unimportant. The lack of a live histogram display is one big reason I’ve decided not to buy the Sigma DP-1. The live histogram is invaluable in producing well-exposed images the first time, and eliminates the need to reshoot a scene. It’s one of the things I love about digital cameras to start with, and the primary reason I want live-view in the next DSLR I buy (probably the Sony A900). As the DP-1 lacks this seemingly basic function, I’d rather take a Fuji GA rangefinder on a climb.


Edelweiss in Braunwald Ricoh GRDMacro Focusing – This is where the GRD really beats all my other cameras and is one big reason why I love climbing with it. You can get as close as 1cm from your subject to create sharp macro images of anything on a tour whenever you feel inspired. You might just think this is great for flower shots – and it is, but what I love is creating wide-angle macro shots during climbing for point-of-view (POV) images. I love getting the Ricoh close to my equipment or looking out over rock edges and creating unique shots that I haven’t seen before. The only way to get similar images with my current equipment is using my Minolta 7 film camera with the Sigma 20mm lens (very close focusing ability), which also is rather large, heavy, and also produces images with just a bit more distortion than I would like. Plus, with the Sigma 20mm you have a much shallower depth of field and a lot of Bokeh (diffused image areas), which isn’t a bad thing, but at the moment for climbing, I like close-up images with a good deal of sharpness across the image. With the small sensor of the GRD, you get really deep depth of field, and combined with the 28mm lens and one-handed operation, this means the ability to take crisp images that are more or less unobtainable with other camera systems.


Compact Size – This is one of the main requirements for a mountaineering camera, it needs as small and light as possible. The GRD is great because I can put it in a case and clip it to the chest strap on my backpack. This keeps it away from my carabiners or quick-draws, and is accessible whenever I want to shoot. It also means it won’t interfere with my climbing movements.


Wide Angle Lens – The lens on the GR Digital is very good, as has been reported elsewhere. I have the 21mm add-on lens, which supplements the fixed 28mm lens. The wide angle still sets the Ricoh apart from other compact cameras. Even the top of the line Canon G9 only has about a 37mm (in 35mm terms) lens, which is not ideal for landscapes. Distortion is very low and the lens will render a sharp image across its entire frame. For mountain landscapes, and in particular for climbing, the wide angle lenses on the GRD are unique and much more useful than those of competing cameras. Using the wide lens of the GRD I’ve been able to obtain shots in the mountains that would not have been possible otherwise.


Braunwald Klettersteig Bridge


So, Why Do I Take My Ricoh GRD Mountaineering?

Great image quality
Unique macro image ability
Low weight
One-hand operation
Live histogram display

What Needs Improvement?

Battery life
RAW write time
LCD screen performance
Image stabilization would be nice

The strengths far outweigh the drawbacks of the GRD. It remains a high quality, extremely packable digital camera. If you’re in the market for a climbing and mountaineering camera, I highly recommend one of the Ricoh designs, including the GR Digital, GRD2, GX100, and GX200. In addition to using the GRD as a traditional landscape and portrait tool, it also works well for off-camera lighting, and I plan to do more trips packing the GR Digital with a small strobe flash and radio triggers.


Further Reading:


Ricoh GRD Articles


Hiking Mt. Fuji with the GRD


Fuji GA Camera Articles


Ricoh GR Digital Mountianeering

Lazy Tokyo Weekend – Mt. Fuji




Mt. Fuji, Fuji-san is possibly the easiest and most awestruck climbs I’ve ever done.  The term "climb" is a stretch when describing Fuji-san.  A winter ascent up the iced face might warrant crampons and axes, but a summer/fall experience falls into the hiking category.  The pathway is wide and primarily maintained with heavy machinery, and during the official climbing season, you can buy food and drinks along the way.  I climbed Fuji-san the third weekend of September, just after the close of the official climbing window of July 1 to August 27.  I’d been in Tokyo for about two weeks and my body and soul were screaming from some escape from the manic metros and crowded Shibuya streets.

Mountaineering has historically had a certain man vs. nature connotation.  Climbing magazines like Rock and Ice or Climbing sometimes use the terms assault to describe a person ascending to a mountain summit.  Popular culture uses terms such as conquer when to romanticize the act when a climbing team attains the summit of Everest.  But to say that one has attacked or conquered a large body of earth such as Fuji-san by the simple act of standing on the summit is like saying that the mosquito which buzzes near your sweaty head has made you it’s bitch.  Even the Swiss Alps with their cable ways and hotels and huts have not been conquered by mankind.

Despite the explicit traces of humankind and the rampant tourism and gimmicks associated with an ascent of Fuji-san, all the reverence and sacredness of the highest mountain on Japan, forged in the ring of fire, and risen from the sea like a God of old…none of these things are diminished by the fact that you can buy Fuji-Inspired custard snacks.  The gimmicks don’t make the mountain anything less than it is, one of the beautiful places on Earth.




I left Tokyo early in the morning.  Normally one can catch a bus from Shinjuku, but I waited too long to reserve a seat and had to find my way there by train.  I pick up a rice ball and yummy looking lemon drink.  It had a funky taste, something in between sour and fire.  After downing half the can I looked and noticed that the funky lemon can of liquid was 7% alcohol.




You can start the hike near sea-level, but I, like nearly everyone else started from Kawaguchiko-guchi Go-gome (Kawaguchiko Fifth Station).  It’s a bus stop and tourist trap, and signifies the start of the trailhead up to the summit.  The 5th is like any other tourist pit between the Mystery Spot in Northern Michigan or the Edelweiss-inspired shops in Grindelwald selling Swiss chocolate and cheese and kitsch.  You can get a can of fresh Fuji-san air at the 5th station, just like you can buy a sealed can of cosmic mystery in Sedona Arizona.




The most popular product is the walking stick.  During the summer you take the stick with you and get it stamped at each station.  I opted not to pick one up, partially because it would be hard taking back to Zurich, also because I was tired of spending Yen, but primarily because I would have entered into a Samurai fighting fantasy and ended up hitting someone by accident.




The real draw of Fuji-San is that everyone who can reasonably walk can make it to the top.  If you’re not in prime altitude condition, you can bring along an oxygen canister (available at the 5th station).  I highly recommend visiting Fuji in the early fall, there are fewer transportation possibilities, but there are far fewer people and the shops along the trail to the peak are closed.




The hike up Fuji-san is uneventful at first.  You begin to rise from the forested slopes and move over some rock, passing huts here and there.  You wonder why you’re ascending and wasting time on this man-conjured joke until the moment you pass through the cloud curtain and see the world falling away below you.  At this point the Zen begins to set in, and you are propelled upwards with a deep sense of wonder, each step a prayer to the deity whom you are set to meet on the summit.




There are a number of station up to the summit, I have no idea when I passed which ones, I really didn’t care.  All I needed to mark my ascent was the continued view of my vantage point getting ever closer to the sky.




In the Ying of the Yang, there is no sunrise without a sunset.  The many visitors will do a night hike and arrive at the summit for the sunrise, and the mountain is a bustling highway at 5:50am.  But at 5:50pm there are only a few souls, those who haven’t found a hut for the night or already descended.  I can’t recommend the sunset enough.  The popular gimmick is the sunrise, but in my experience it in no way matches the calm magic of the sun falling behind the summits.  The clouds gather in full at the slopes and form the perfect curtain for the shadow of the mighty one to be projected upon.




I thought about descending after the sunset and finding one of the huts to stay at for the night.  The cost for one of these runs around 60-80,000 Yen, and for some reason I just didn’t feel like putting myself back into the confines of walls and windows.




The cold was creeping over the ridges and rocks like it always does in an alpine environment after the sun leaves.  We get used to the comforts and confines and forget how vulnerable we are in the world.  I alternated between sitting and trying to sleep for a few minutes near rocks and walking around the volcano craters to move and stay warm.  This also allowed me to see the sky as I never had before.  The moon rose and set and the sky was filled with stars and at other times guarded by clouds.  It was quiet and cold and I’ll never forget the wonderful sleep depravation on the summit ridges and volcano rims of Fuji-san.




I was shivering at 4am when the first night hikers crested the over the last gate and began looking for the best place from which to see the rising sun.  You can see the sunrise from everywhere, but I opted for the more popular location, along with most everyone else.  The view is filled with cigarette smoke and the light of cell phones screens burns into the eyes as you wait for the sun.  The sunrise starts very slowly.  The sky lightens, and slivers of red start burning themselves into the atmosphere.  Eventually the red eye looks out across Japan and rises up above the clouds which have come to gather around the lower slopes.




The trip up and down Fuji-san was a wonderful experience.  It was a trip in the most spiritual sense, the way from Tokyo, finding the train, getting to the 5th station, watching the sun set and the stars revealed, the moon set and the sun rise and the eventual return to Shinjuku.




For the inexperience mountaineer Fuji-san is a colossal trek, an adventure of one’s lifetime.  For the lazy sometimes seasoned mountaineer such as your humble narrator, Fuji can be done as a day trip if desired.  One just needs to make sure of the transpiration issues.  Camping is officially prohibited, but like in the Swiss Alps, if you do and no one else is around, there’s no one to tell you to stop.  A number of travelers set up tents on the summit during the night, although I think this is only in the off-climbing season.  Either way, I highly recommend it for those in Tokyo seeking an escape from the manic rhythms of the city.  It is a majestic climb, no matter your skill level or previous mountain experiences.

Specifics on the climbing routes up Fuji-san can be found at the SummitPost page.  Photos and images from this trip were produced with the awesome Ricoh GRD digital camera.

Ricoh GRD Review
Ricoh GRD and Strobe Lighting



Lazy Swiss Saturday

For one of those weekends when you don’t know what to do with yourself, here’s my suggestion:

1) Wake up at 5 am, let the alarm go until 5:15, think about it again, and then get out of bed.

2) Find your way to the main train station in Zurich and take the 6:12 train to Ziegelbrücke. Curse yourself for not getting to the station early enough to buy a coffee, then ask yourself why you had the idea to get up so early to go hiking in the first place. Praise the Gods when the guy with the food cart comes by on the train, get yourself a coffee and chocolate croissant. All will then be well in the world.

Switch trains at Ziegelbrücke and get off at Braunwald. Hike two hours towards the Eggstöcke, your goal is to do a Klettersteig (protected climbing route) to the summit.

Extra Credit: take the wrong path, look up and realize you’re quickly becoming lost, trail blaze up the side of the mountain and after crossing the scree (loose rockfall from the mountain) and basic class two unprotected climbing, get to the start of the Klettersteig.

3) Do the Vor Eggstöcke Klettersteig, pass all the slow people and take 10 minute breaks here and there for energy bar consumption. Finish the first Klettersteig and continue to the next, more difficult one. Extra Credit: Climb halfway up the second Klettersteig until your arms start shaking and your feet become unstable, debate about continuing, look down and imagine loosing your grip and falling 2 meters before the rope catches you. Climb down and have another energy bar. After watching two other sets of climbs do the climb you just retreated from get up off your lazy ass and climb it as well. Summit the peak and feel good for doing something that means nothing.

4) Follow the blue alpine ridge trail off the summit and start descending from the Eggstöcke. Extra Credit: loose the path and start down a section of half solid, half crap crumbling rock.

Bonus Points: Grab a big handhold in your right hand and watch helplessly as it breaks away from the mountain and gets deflected by your right knee and leg before free falling through the fresh alpine air and joining all its other friends on the slopes below.

Double Bonus Points: Remind yourself that you’re a dumbass and should have died in the mountains years ago, climb back up and find the trail. Descend along the alpine trail, at times balancing on a rock ridge with a width twice as wide as your boots. Look to your right and notice the multi-hundred meter straight-down-drop that ends in jagged rocks. Remind yourself that you’re a dumbass and climb down to your left so you don’t fall to your impending death.

4) Leave the ridge and descend through the field of giant boulders and smooth rock left by the last glacier. Imagine Kate is hiking next to you and singing the chorus line from the Sound of Music. Look across the boulder field to the snow dusted ridges of the Ortstock and think about climbing it instead of getting hiking back to Braunwald and catching the next the train. Remind yourself that you’re a dumbass and take the trail back to Braunwald.

5) Change into your Chaco sandals on the train and relax.

Extra Credit: Sit in the dining car and drink a beer while recounting the day in your Moleskin journal. Bonus Points: Have the bright idea of turning your Lazy Saturday into a blog entry. 6) Get back to your place, bake a fresh mozzarella pizza, reflect on the fact you went hiking for 9 hours. Go to bed. Double Bonus Points: Mess around with the digital camera Sunday night after cleaning your room.

Journals

Journals in Motion


 


Climbing Switzerland Alps Braunwald