Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5

Started May 17, 2012 | Discussions
burnymeister
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Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
May 17, 2012

Last weekend I joined a few buddies for a winter mountaineering trip on the Columbia Ice fields in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Most people aren't thinking winter anymore but we had full-on blizzard conditions which produced frost bite on three of us! The peaks we climbed are some of the highest in the Canadian Rockies and some of the more remote on the ice fields. It took us a (very long) day of skiing (20km) just to approach the mountains and set up camp at 11000 feet above sea level.

We had planned on 3 days of climbing before heading back but after 4 mountains in 2 days, one of the participants ended up with HAPE - a life threatening high altitude condition! HAPE isn't common in the Canadian Rockies due to our lower altitude mountains but certainly does occur at the elevations we were climbing and skiing at - all of it above 11000 feet. We ended up hitting our 911 on the SPOT and waiting for a rescue for our friend. The rescue came on Sunday morning and the rest of us packed up camp and headed out to deal with the situation. Our friend is slowly healing (water in the lungs takes a bit to get out) and we ended up with some fantastic peaks and quite an adventure!

So how did the E-M5 handle all the excitement? It handled it very well! The first day was an all out blizzard and as you know, I don't carry my camera in a case. It spent all day in 80-100km/h winds and driving snow and only I ended up with frost bite! It was often buried in snow, soaking wet from the strong sun melting the snow on it, sat on in the tent and operated flawlessly. I was judicious with the battery since I only had one (!!), keeping it in my pocket and inserting it for temporary stretches of use. I only used the 12-50mm lens due to the nature of the trip and simply loved it. I think it's the best kit lens I've ever used on m43.

Here's some pics - I shot RAW+JPEG but as usual with Oly, I ended up using the JPEG since they're so darn good.

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Vern Dewit
Calgary, Alberta Canada
http://www.explor8ion.com
http://verndewit.com/

 burnymeister's gear list:burnymeister's gear list
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Dheorl
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Looks like a fun trip.

If you don't have the camera in a bag what do you do with it? Just have it hagning on a sling strap or something? How do you stop it flopping around whilst climbing?

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400trix
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

All I can say is "wow!"

These are the sorts of conditions that the E-M5 is made for.

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Brian Mosley
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Very impressive!
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

And a beautiful set, what camera did you use before in these conditions?

Thanks for sharing, hope your friend is recovering quickly.

Brian
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fotophool
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Good story and good series!

fotophool

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7131002@N05/

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SaltLakeGuy
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Outstanding exposures
In reply to Brian Mosley, May 17, 2012

no blown out whites and the sun. Obviously the metering does the trick well without heavy manipulation, which you wouldn't want to do in those conditions. Looks like the weather sealing also did it's job. This speaks well of the ability of the camera to tolerate extreme conditions.

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Bill Wallace
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Excellent........
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Good on you, thanks for the real life experience with the camera. This is what I think we all need to see more of and not many of us will stress the camera in ways you have. Hard to believe you made it on one battery.....great shots.

Hope all of you are recovering nicely, I live in Minnesota so I am all to familar with what the cold can do....

All the best to your friend, hope he is going to have a full recovery.

Cheers,

Bill
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Dheorl
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Re: Outstanding exposures
In reply to SaltLakeGuy, May 17, 2012

SaltLakeGuy wrote:

no blown out whites and the sun. Obviously the metering does the trick well without heavy manipulation, which you wouldn't want to do in those conditions. Looks like the weather sealing also did it's job. This speaks well of the ability of the camera to tolerate extreme conditions.

Bit of an overstatement about the exposures but it certainly does an admiral job.

To the OP;

I'm curious about the weather sealing infact - I heard one of two reports of issues with the viewfinder going misty. Did you have any such issues?

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BungHole
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Cool trip and great photos. It looks tiring though. I must be a couch potato now.

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DonTom
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Bloody excellent, thanks for the breath of fresh air. Literally, I'm sitting in 45 Celsius here in Qatar, counting down the days to getting on a plane back to NZ for the winter there.

Holding off on the E-M5 so far, but you guys are tempting me! I might try to kill my E-PL1 in the snow in NZ, then I'll have to get a new camera!

How did you do the Panorama? One of the best I've seen for a while.
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OniMirage
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Those are amazing shots would never dream to have that kind of range with no blown highlights on my 510.

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dcassat
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What a story! and..
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Camera!

A wonderful testimonial to several things, only one of which is the camera and the way it was treated.

Your pictures really capture the experience and I love the B & W. Great story, great pics. Man, where is my popcorn?!

Thanks so much for sharing this.

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Dan

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TEBnewyork
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Hope your friend is doing well and glad you all carry the right emergency gear and recognized your friends condition.

The pictures are up to your usual outstanding level. Nice that you are happy with the camera. Weather sealing finally must make you happy.

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gulffish
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Great set of shots in a beautiful winter landscape, well done and thanks for sharing!
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BubbaE1
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Freaking AWESOME!
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burnymeister
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to Dheorl, May 17, 2012

Dheorl wrote:

Looks like a fun trip.

Yeah - fun and tough at the same time!

If you don't have the camera in a bag what do you do with it? Just have it hagning on a sling strap or something? How do you stop it flopping around whilst climbing?

I hang it over my neck and under my left arm (sling it). The advantage is that I can take pictures almost instantly, the disadvantage is the 'flopping'. On really tough pitches I put it away, but that rarely happens.
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Vern Dewit
Calgary, Alberta Canada
http://www.explor8ion.com
http://verndewit.com/

 burnymeister's gear list:burnymeister's gear list
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burnymeister
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Re: Very impressive!
In reply to Brian Mosley, May 17, 2012

Brian Mosley wrote:

And a beautiful set, what camera did you use before in these conditions?

Thanks. I've used a bunch of m43 and NEX cameras as you probably know. The NEX-7 was used on my February trip to the same area and last year I used the E-P3.

Thanks for sharing, hope your friend is recovering quickly.

You're most welcome, and yes - our friend is recovering but slower than we'd hoped.
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Vern Dewit
Calgary, Alberta Canada
http://www.explor8ion.com
http://verndewit.com/

 burnymeister's gear list:burnymeister's gear list
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burnymeister
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Re: Excellent........
In reply to Bill Wallace, May 17, 2012

Bill Wallace wrote:

Good on you, thanks for the real life experience with the camera. This is what I think we all need to see more of and not many of us will stress the camera in ways you have. Hard to believe you made it on one battery.....great shots.

Yeah - people need to get out and shoot rather than worry about the occasional rattle or the odd blurry corner of a photograph. I was paranoid about the 1 battery but when the 4 days were over it was still showing 'full' so I guess I didn't have to have it in my pocket so much - something I didn't want to do because it slowed down the picture taking process and I like capturing the moment as it happens.

Hope all of you are recovering nicely, I live in Minnesota so I am all to familar with what the cold can do....

I'm from Manitoba but this is the first time I've had frost bite on my face. The wind was brutal all four days.

All the best to your friend, hope he is going to have a full recovery.

Thx.
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Vern Dewit
Calgary, Alberta Canada
http://www.explor8ion.com
http://verndewit.com/

 burnymeister's gear list:burnymeister's gear list
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Tim F 101
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beer time
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

Wonderful pix, and what an experience. I remember walking a friend with HACE off an ice ledge and down a snowfield in the CO Rockies (what kind of idiot climbs Longs Peak in winter...) and can sympathize with what you guys went through. To go on and summit like that is an inspiration.

As I said before the EM5 seems to handle the super high contrast mountain air with aplomb. You are really selling the little thing.

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Bob Tullis
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Re: Winter Mountaineering with the E-M5
In reply to burnymeister, May 17, 2012

What an awesome pastime, journey, adventure, camera - and photographer.

Quite impressive, makes me smile with envy.

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