28.7.13

Heliskiing in Maniitsoq, Greenland

No words needed - Maniitsoq Greenland
Now there are few things in this world, whether Snowboarder or Skier, that ranks higher on the wishlist than having a helicoter lift you to a peak in a remote and desolate area, gently lift you off, allow you to strap in and bolt down the face of a mountaing, covered in virgin snow. The location in the desolate and remote arctic mountains of greenland, with a view of the fiords and ocean on the way down does not make it any less of a dream.


Shed demo - © Jan Blæsild
During Easter that dream came true for me.
I got one of 3 slots as test dummy on the pilot training programme for the pilots flying it.
In short it, meant that we spend two days going over pretty much all relevant aspects of a heliskiing operation.
Flight theory - with whiteout precautions and mountain flying brush ups.
Security and emergency procedures - Including use of sheds, hoist out procedures and or transport of shed in a smaller helicoter.
To sit through all of this together with the pilots and two super experienced guides, before even getting close to a helicopter, was an amazing intro to the actual snowboarding and skiing.
That we got to take part in a real emergency exercise, with the Greenlandic SAR team , including hoist and everything, came as quite a surprise, but it made for another interesting experience.





Our guides, Pete and Kevin
Heliskiing is a blast, it is thrilling and amazingly fun, but also a serious business, with an equally serious set of risks associated.
Avalanche beacon, showel, probe, airbag, helmet and radio are all mandatory ingredients. Now radio and airbag may seem over the top, but if you are doing big runs in remote areas, then some extra precautions do make sense. I mean if heliskiing in Greenland you will be you, a couple of mates, 1-2 guides and a heli and that is it. No access roads, no ambulances, just wilderness.
Strapping into all this gear also served as a gentle reminder to take care out there, but it also served as a perfect reminder of the adventure ahead :)


Reliable guides is another very mandatory element when being in an area this remote. While I normally never mention any names or cmopanies, then I think our guides deserves a mention and a recommendation. We were guided by Pete Patterson (www.mountainspirits.com) and Kevin O'Rourke (www.powderbirds.com) . Pete has been guiding the area for 14 years and Kevin for 10, they are certified heliskiing guides and used to running the show, which shows in both their approach and ability to guide their customers.I think a good rule in an area this remote is to use guides qith loads of local knowledge and with extensive experience in general. it makes it safer and funnier.

Rocky Approach

The Skiing:
One of the things immediate apparent to us upon arrival was that the weather was quite unusual, while March and April usually are two of the best powder month we have, thus year spring decided to hit Greenland two month early and it seemed that conditions would be Corn snow runs, rather than powder runs, But really, what can one do but make the best of it :)

Way down
Terrain was generally very steep and in the morning the snow on some runs difficult due to the hard snow, but a few hours into sunlight everything would change and we got some seriously steep and interesting corn snow runs
We got to see a very wide variety of runs including packed glacial runs, drop off points that seemed bare big enough to step off the helicopter runs with plenty of big and small boulders providing narrow runs and small drops. long travers runs that at least for a boarder was not the most funny runs in the world, but none the less it felt amazing to traverse a huge glacial face in a leisurely pace seeing crevasses from above and below.
And several sections steep enough to make most of think twice before setting off.

We all had our fair challenges on the runs, as the boarder in the group mine was mainly not to sink into the habit of just blindly following the guides, skiers and boarders tend to ride different lines.

We were blessed with truly amazing weather throughout our stay, not just good, but amazing.
The weather definitely added to the experience, as well as the unique and breathtaking views.





Drop off with rotors running
There is just something to skiing peak to fiord. Making each run both visually and technically a transition from steep peak over rolling canyonlike parts into swift narrow turns with plenty of technical turns between rocks and boulders where only a board and a half would fit, to sections jumping from patch of snow to patch of snow. until being able to tuch the water.
In a word Amazing.

we were 3 guys and 2 guides making for two flights to get everybody on top, getting to see the drop offs up close made for a healty does of respect for the almost supernatural flying skills of the pilots.
Without being a pilot, I would say their flying skills and experience with this kind of operation shows
We never once felt at risk, yet we were continuously impressed with their ability to drop us off in palces where i would have claimed it impossible get off.

I could go on forever on the magic wonders of a trip like this and how wonderful it was and how much it even for a trip with less than perfect snow turned into both some of the most cahllenging snowboarding 8 years in Greenland have brought me and the most amazing and unique skiing experience I have ever had.
Thus I will leave you with a link to a few more images, found HERE

The solitude, the views and the people combined some pretty sick snowboarding really makes for a once in a life time experience here.

- No other place on earth will allow a similar experience with a snowboard, simple as that.

Hellicopter at the halfway to fiord mark

30.7.12

Eqip Sermia - Tidal rocks

It is no secret that Greenland is one of the places in the world where Mother Nature fully unleashes her beauty, yet every once and a while I find myself stunned and speechless by the stark visual impressions this Arctic paradise has to offer if one look carefully.

This was one of those moments:

Eqip Sermia - Tidal Rocks



1.6.12

Dusk Puddles

Dusk Puddles

A 15 minute stroll - A thermos with hot chili tea - low tide puddles -  the first summer sunset of year - fog playing at the mountains across the fiord - graced by a visit from Mr. Moon - and above all, an hour worth of total solitude.

Sometimes Mother Nature really do know what is best for us.

Have a great weekend all.

/Thomas

15.5.12

Spanish memories

I have had the pleasure of spending a good week around easter in Malaga and Sevilla in Spain
Malaga has for many years been a text book example of a destination totally destroyed by tourism and a place I have avoided as destination for the very same reason.

Breaking waves


However this spring an amazing woman offered me the opportunity to see Malaga thorough her eyes, as someone having lived there and knowing every back alley and corner inside out. Fair to say that there is a layer of Malaga unseen to most visitors and it is just beneath our own eyes. Below is a few of my personal highlights from the trip.

If you know where to go, there is a few surprises. A lot will go unmentioned in this post, as i could spend hours writing about the many experience.
Below is a few of the highlights that are easy to find and not necessarily depend on travelling with a local.

Master Chef

Tapadaki:

Yeah, I know the guy in this image look a little suspicious, but he is the master chef and king of the kitchen in Tapadaki, a place I can best describe as an up-scale Spanish/Japanese fusion Tapas restaurant.
It does sound odd, but the food prepared here is first rate and the service is equally good. I am not an expert on food, but i have had my fair share of Tapas, both before and particularly on this journey and Tapadaki is the place to go.If you ever find yourself in Malaga, you want to have dinner and drinks here.


Sunset at El Palo

El Palo:

Located just north of Malaga and probably very touristy during summer, but early in the season this is where the locals seems to gather up for drinks, coffee and seafood.
During the day and well into the evening it is bustling with a mix of young and old having a mix of anything from morning coffee to Mojitos, while kicking back and talking loud about nothing and everything.
The area is more or less free of those huge resort nightmares and mostly filled with cozy boutique hotels and hostels. Now the tourist nightmare is never far away, but it is a wonderful oasis of relaxed Spanish atmosphere and top class seafood.

La Tetería

La Tetería:

A local tea-house with more tea on the menu than I have seen anywhere else. Hidden away in a side street this cozy little tea-house was mostly crowded by locals, we spotted a couple of local guitar players jamming at one table and 3 friends doing an enthusiastic catch up at another.
It is just a wonderful place to rest for a while, have a cup or two of exotic tea and just take in the local atmosphere.
They have one of the wider selections of tea and if one are into sweets, then the they have a wide selection of home made sweets to accompany the tea.

La Consula:

La Consula
No this driveway may not look like much, but at the far end of it is Ernest Hemingway's old villa and it house the institution where the future Spanish master chefs and top waiters are educated. Better yet it has a lunch restaurant, where you have a chance to taste the fine cuisine experiments of the next generation of Spanish master chefs. Prepared under supervision of some the finest chefs in Spain and served by the future generation of top waiters. How cool is that.
A school cannot be star rated in guide Michelin, but la Consula is represented in the guide with a honourable mention apparently and while expensive by Spanish standards it definitely is worth a visit. I am going back next time that is for sure.


Nerja:

Nerja
A sleepy and increasingly touristy village 45 minutes bus ride north of Malaga.
Famous probably for the nearby Nerja Caves and the Balcony of Europe viewpoint (the image above was taken standing just below it)
If one are able to get of the touristy stuff, then it is such an amazingly cozy village with a huge amount of tiny beaches surrounded by steep rock formations.
From my viewpoint it looked like an bouldering heaven and judging by the number of crashpads being carried around by people I am probably right . In other words, I am going back there to climb some day:)
The village itself is a labyrinth of narrow streets, with a variety of shops, restaurants and cafés and judging from the pleased look on the face of my female travel companion, there are interesting stuff to be shopped here.
Seems quite a good mix, bouldering for the guys and shopping and beach time for the woman, all in one location - Not bad, not bad at all :)


Balcony of Europe

I hope you have enjoyed these fragmented Spanish memories of mine. Malaga is still a tourist nightmare to me, but there is a most intriguing local life going on beneath the surface of it and if they let you in, you are in for an amazing experience, an experience which cannot be shared in words.

Thanks for reading,
Thomas

12.5.12

Aviation Photography

There are times where an assignment is more like a birthday present than an actual job.
The chance to shoot Air Greenland's brand new Dash 8 in flight is definitely such an occasion.

Air Greenland Dash 8  - smooth flying in tough weather


Me at work
Now this post has been some months under way as images needed to go public in the Annual Report and the in-flight magazine before being posted elsewhere, but I still think both the images and the story is worth sharing.

The request came in shortly before Christmas, well early December actually and with a deadline of end 2011 it did not seem too bad.
Conditions in December in Nuuk however, does not favour air to air photography.
Temperatures rarely go above -15C, daylight is only a few hours a day and the light is something more like afternoon/evening light than real daylight.
Add to that a December where gale force winds and blizzards or heavy cloud cover seemed to continue without stop and you are in for a challenge.



We scheduled several slots, but each one got cancelled as weather turned bad before daylight arrived, finally on December 30th things started to lighten a bit, clouds were spreading east of Nuuk, but a northerly wind at 30 knots coupled with the -15C temperature and the need to fly with an airspeed of +125 knots with the door open did not sound overly promising.

Lasse and myself, suited up and ready :)
Lasse (assisting me on this assignment) and I, never the less suited up and got ready.
We had the helicopter rigged up with harness attachment points, sliding door, strapped the gear bags in and got ready to go.
After that we did the initial briefings and clearances with the airport tower and operations staff.
Finally we did a very detailed walk through with the pilots, they are very serious about their business and flying in tight formation is not something to take lightly.
Especially not with winds blowing at 30 knots, down wash from rotors and me hanging half way out the side of the helicopter to consider.
All geared up and with the communication routine locked down, we handed over the flying to the expert pilots and they took us through the initial bumps of take off and into flight.


An hour worth of freezing our rear ends off, with an open door in the helicopter and some world class flying from the pilots later we had the shots bagged. Including those sunrise shots the marketing people need for their add campaigns.
What I liked even better, we got several images showing the true conditions under which these skilled pilots work on a daily basis.
Clearing the Mountains
As we approached the airport, the sky turned black and snow started to roll in again, so as luck would have we used that perfect one hour window available. as to the temperature in the cabin of the helicopter, well it was really cold., Cold enough for our pilot to find out that his flying boots were frozen to the pedals and needed some work before he was able to leave the helicopter. I have done air to air work before, but never in arctic winter conditions and badish weather before.
I had a healthy dose of respect for the skills of the pilots flying for Air Greenland before, but this experience kind of put those skills in perspective, I would not have been able to do my job without their world class flying, or Lasse in the back to keep my safety lines under control and handling lens changes.

To conclude this little "a day on the job" description - a parting image:
The sunrise shot

I have included a small gallery with a mix of images from the assignment HERE

Thanks for reading,
Thomas

24.11.11

Have you ever considered...

What would happen if you fell off a mountain side?

What would happen if you were struck by a car while out running?

While it may be silly questions, then it is two questions that I have considered as a climber and runner.
I am sure you could all come up with your own questions and while not pleasant to think about, they all have one thing in common, you are likely going to either pass away or be critically injured if it happens...
And someone has to determine who you are!
Both to notify your loved ones and perhaps take certain precautions while doing what they can to save your life.

In normal life we carry our phone, wallet and other items that will most likely help determine our identity and whom to call, but what when one is out running,  or on a mountain bike on the trail, or hiking alone in the mountains, then what... I have so far been running with just my front door key in a string, which would make me nearly impossible to ID.
A friend and colleague introduced me to a very convenient solution – The RoadID:

Above is a classic “dog tag” type ID, suiting me better as I would not like to have something around my wrists or ankles when climbing. However the guys from RoadID have put a lot of effort into creating a style and carrying method suiting almost everyone.

I am sure you could make your own and that there are probably other vendors out there too, but that is not the point – the point is to carry one.


5.9.11

Summer Europe update:)

"Balcony Barbecue" - Copenhagen
Well a good 3 weeks since my last teaser and I have still not fully process the images, nor decided quite how to present them, but while doing that and looking at the decisively autumnal weather (heaps of rain and snow stuff slowly covering the mountains) I might as well share some European summer impressions.

Summer for my part was spend in a rather unusual way, at least the month of June.
In stead of packing up for another arctic adventure, I spend a lot of time with my family in Europe, Copenhagen, Spain and France to be exact and while not as adventurous as my usual trips, it was absolutely amazing to be allowed to spend a little more time with my family than just a quick dinner when in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is where I grew up and it was wonderful to be back for a few days just cruising the city and the familiar sights and sounds, dinner barbecue on the balcony, fresh veggies and fruit, not to mention friends and family.

The trip to spain was an invitation from my Uncle and Aunt. A one week trip to celebrate my aunts birthday. tthey had rented an amaxing villa in the mountains just off Marbella and we really had a wonderful and relaxed time there. Joinded my brother and his girlfriend for a trip to Malaga.
Even got the chance to do a daytrip to Gibraltar and while the area, much like Marbella and Malaga, is a nightmare of a turist trap, then the gibraltar monkeys more than made up for it.
Thousands of images has been shot of these very domesticated primates, but they are cute and fun subjects, so I did a few images of them too.
"The Hungry One" - Gibraltar


"Falabrac Fabrik Café" - Nice
Next stop on the schedule was Nice and then Fayence in France to celebrate my Fathers birthday, turning 60 is a big thing and we adored the chance to spend some time with him.
Nice is a real tourist trap, much like Marbella and Malaga, but there are good things to find there, if one does a bit of walking there is quite a lot of excellent cafés and I had some excellent espresso while in Nice.
Another upside to France is the easy access to a huge selection of champagne.
So while a tourist trap, Nice was a great experience.

My brother and his girlfriend stopped by after a couple of days and together we drowe the short way to Fayance and a traditional french countryside villa. Spending time hanging out with family was amazing. whether just hanging out by the pool, whitewater canoing, body surfing or just enjoying a fab meal is not important at times like this. Family is.

One full day was spend doing a fairly long drive to Gorges du Verdon, the canyon that may well has been lending name to the Grand Canyon in the US. A truly amazing place.
A hikers and climbers paradise. Not being far enough along since my surgery, I was not allowed to climb, so the view and some casual hikes had to do, alongside the long drive.
I want to return to Gorges du Verdon again some day and spend some time climbing, because climbing with a view like that must be an incredible experience.
But even as day trip, doing the drive up and down the canyon, visiting the lake that feeds the river Var and taking in the view from many of the view points is an experience not to be discounted.

"The Cave" - Gorges du Verdon
That concludes my month of June and my update for now. I have better get back to the post processing work fromfrom my trips to the Ilulissat area in July and August.

Thanks for reading.