Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ice Climbing Trip

We haven't been out ice climbing for a few years so we decided to head out. The first day we went to King Creek in Kananaskis where there are three short, easy ice climbs to warm up on. It was a beautiful day - about -6c and no wind. We had rented some newer ice tools to try out - Black Diamond Vipers. It was the first time we had gone "leashless". The tools and being leashless were great, although the thought of dropping a tool still makes me a little nervous!

The next day we did a longer route - Sinatra Falls, also in Kananaskis. It was nice and sunny and we were expecting similar temperatures as the day before. We were a little shocked when it turned out to be closer to -30c. It's actually not too bad if you can keep moving but standing belaying gets chilly, even with a down jacket.

Unfortunately, part way through the climb my left wrist got extremely painful. I wasn't sure what had happened, just assumed I had tweaked it somehow, perhaps not noticing because of the cold. The next day it was just as painful and swollen so we stopped in at emergency in Canmore. We arrived with coffees and books ready for the kind of wait we would have in Saskatoon, but we were the only ones there and got in right away. They figured it was tendinitis, although it was a bit unusual to appear so suddenly. So now I'm in a half cast and on anti-inflamatories for two weeks, and that was the end of my ice climbing for this trip.

I finally decided to take the plunge and on our way through Calgary I picked up a Pentax K10D digital SLR with a Tamron 18-250mm lens (35mm equivalent to 27-375mm). I chose the K10D for a variety of reasons - weatherproof sealed body, anti-shake, and raw DNG format. From the reviews it seemed to be good quality for the price. Having the anti-shake in the body means it works with any lens, not just expensive image stabilized lenses. The lens is relatively new - you may have seen recent ads for it. It's almost a 14 x range. It's fairly slow (f/3.5-6.3) but gets decent reviews for quality. Since my current shooting style doesn't include carrying or switching to different lenses, this gives me the same flexibility I've come to count on with my Canon S3 IS.

I can't believe how many separate buttons and controls there are! It's definitely going to take some getting used to, as will the size and weight. But I'm looking forward to shooting raw and having more room to adjust in Lightroom. After being away from SLR's for so long, there's something very satisfying about that solid "clunk" as the mirror flips up when you take a shot. And it's really nice to have a much shorter lag when you press the shutter release. Here a couple of photos taken with it:

I'm looking forward to using it on our trip to Ecuador and Galapagos in January.

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