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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Glacier Documentary: Shooting on Ice: Days 1-3

Posted: 07 Aug 2010 05:00 PM PDT

After recuperating from the first leg of the trip, director of photography Max  McSimov took time to reflect on the unforseen trials and rewards of shooting on ice…

You don’t realize until you come down from the mountain.  The work. The challenges.  The weight.

You find out that shooting expert glaciologists on a massive slab of rock and ice is… a whole hell of a lot of fun. As Mauri and our crew traversed back and forth across the glacier, I was just happy to be there to take the whole experience in.  It was my first time out on a real glacier, a far cry from the piles of plowed and frozen-over snow studding the streets of my midwestern winters.

We filmed a good deal the first day, running around the snow trying to find the best shots of Mauri and his team as they took measurements of the shrinking ice that lay below. We stopped and had lunch on a fallen rock overlooked on all sides by waterfalls pouring off the mountain above.  We talked shop, finished our lunch, and went back to work. We continued shooting for a couple of more hours and then started our steep descent back to base camp on the shore of Blanca Lake.

All in all, it was an amazing day.

And we only had one gear casualty.

I lost one of the feet from my tripod. It slid down the stream that cut through the ice cave. No second chances. It was a goner. But once we arrived back at the trailhead, it was my feet that became the issue.  Nothing a little dinner, bourbon, and moleskin couldn’t handle.

First leg done.  Columbia Glacier captured.  Only six more to go.
Posted: 07 Aug 2010 02:58 PM PDT

Our first foray onto the Columbia Glacier, we shot with the research team all day and quickly discovered that shooting on a glacier was going to be a unique and interesting challenge. After coming off the glacier, we started an interview with Mauri and Tom Hammond [of NCCC and American Alps], but within 15 minutes the rain came to shut us down. I hope the weather doesn’t turn out to be a challenge. We have enough to worry about as is.

It rained us to sleep that night, but somehow the mice didn’t mind and toyed with us all night.  I woke at 3:00 am and found clear skies. Perfect for shooting time lapse of the stars circling over the glacier.  It was the first real peace I had on the trip. It eased my mind to lay out under the stars by the camera that clicked away like a slow metrome.

The next day we opted not to go up the glacier with Mauri, but instead explored the ice caves and meadows while capturing more time lapse photography. We soon learned that was a very good decision because the hike back to the trailhead turned out to be a long, foot pounding grind. By the time the day was done, our feet were hamburger. Any more might have been too much.
Once back in Gold Bar, where we would spend the night, we were quick to find the best beer and burgers in town. I believe the beer in the Stevens Pass Cafe and Lounge may be the coldest in the state - and I have three more who’ll back up my theory.

With a full belly, sore feet and a beer in hand, we went to work off-loading the footage onto harddrives, recharging batteries, dividing up food, fixing gear, and other tasks.
I believe we all had our first good night’s sleep of the trip.

Now we’re off to Sedro Wooley. There we will stash some of our gear at a hotel and head up to Mt. Baker.  I am looking forward to this leg. Our climbing photographer, Steph Abegg, will be joining us. For me, it will be great to get back on Mt. Baker - a huge volcano with many sprawling glaciers and striking vistas.

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