A weekend skiing in Switzerland and running at home

After my Ukrainian foray ended early Friday morning (a painful 5:55AM to be exact), I caught a flight to Frankfurt and then onto Zurich, touching down late-morning.  From there I’d drive 75 minutes into the alps where I was headed to one of the few ski areas already open for the season: Titlis.  Situated above the town of Engelberg, it opened up some time ago, but had an expanded opening on Saturday.

My main (and really singular) purpose for going here was to get a bunch of time with a slew of action cams for upcoming reviews.  I was specifically interested in both cold weather performance, as well as winter-sport specific performance (skiing).  I had a shot list not unlike any other movie set.  The only difference is mine would generally be less exciting.

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(For those that are curious, no, this particular configuration of three cams means the JVC cam would be blocked.  But I did dual-shots for a number of scenarios.  Also, I actually had a few VIRB’s with me.)

By time I got all situated and ready to go it was roughly lunchtime on Friday, but still leaving me almost four hours of skiing.  Not too shabby!

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The mountain only has a handful of lifts, but they cover quite a bit of vertical terrain.  The base is at about 3,000ft, whereas the top is at about 10,000ft.  It takes one gondola and two additional trams to get there.

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In fact, one of the trams the floor actually spins 360* as you go from top to bottom (or, back down again I suppose).  Kinda crazy.

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Speaking of crazy, at the top, there’s this thing called the ‘Ice walk’.  Which, is basically what happens when ski resort planners get bored and decide to build a sketchy swaying bridge over a gigantic cliff between two rock ledges.

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Anyway, as for the skiing – it was good, especially so in the afternoon on Saturday once the clouds lifted and allowed you to actually ski the 6” or so of new powder that had fallen during the night.  Prior to the clouds lifting, my view was just a white wall of nothingness.  In general, whereby my only goal was to not ski off a multi-thousand foot cliff.

But, once they lifted, it was more like this:

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My action cam testing went well, and I got the vast majority of the shots as I planned.  Some of the things didn’t quite cooperate (like, the tree skiing area wasn’t open).

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Saturday evening I caught the high speed TGV train back home to Paris.  It takes pretty much four hours on the dot, plus the 75 minute drive out of the mountains.

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Sunday was a beautiful day in Paris.  No wind, no rain, and mostly sunny.

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We did a bit of wandering and walking around mid-day.  I was happy to find that the street along the Seine remained closed for the day.  Once it gets into winter-weather, whether or not they actually close the street on Sundays remains a bit mysterious.  They did, thankfully.

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Along my run, I saw the usual protest/demonstration.  This one appeared to be some sort of anti-capitalism demonstration.

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But you know what’s the best part of demonstrations?  Wide open and closed streets ancillary to run down!

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Meanwhile, while running back along the river, this boat got stuck.  He made it through the first bridge (to the right), but the water is too high, and he’s stuck unable to go through the next bridge.  The last week or so most of the boats in front of the house have also been unable to go under the bridges.

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Back at the church, they’re finally deconstructing the stands that have been up a year, and in its place adding in a gigantic Christmas tree.  Double-woot!

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Last but not least, about 3/4ths of the way through my run, I realized that I forgot to change into my running socks from dress socks.  Doh!  Anyway, thought I’d share.

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With that, my weekend is complete!  Polar Loop review coming up on Tuesday, and Wednesday, it’s off to Brazil (Rio and Sao Paulo).  I’ll be in Rio for the weekend, if anyone is interested…

Thanks for reading!

31 Comments

  1. Hubert

    Hi Ray!

    I would like to use those cams while going for trail running. In such case, the feature that would drive my purchase is image stabilization.
    If possible, please include comparison of image stabilization between the action cams : would be great!!
    I know Sony have a numeric stabilization (images are cropped). Is there any model with mechanical stabilization (kind of adaptive lenses)? Which one is the best?

    I guess that while skiing you have been facing the same questions. Thanks for your feedbacks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      So I did a run yesterday on reasonably smooth pavement with the chest/shoulder harness and the VIRB to see how it worked out. In short, it sucked. Pretty much useless footage (actually, totally useless).

      Now, I saw the same thing with the GoPro and their chest strap while running - any footage will make you sick pretty quickly, due to vertical oscillation.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      I've taken my VIRB Elite mountain biking several times now, and I concur that image stabilization is useless. Here's a clip I posted on Facebook last month, with image stabilization on. The data displayed is from my Edge 800, since the Elite has new device syndrome and lost the GPS/ANT+ data later in the ride during the single freeze I had with it that day. Garmin's VIRB Edit software is good and getting better, so recovering from loss of track data is straightforward. The other thing noticeable from the clip is the awful sound you get conducted through the frame and up the handlebar mount.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yikes, that sound is horrendous. Very odd. Haven't seen anything like that yet.

      Reply
    • Ben replied

      I haven't tried handlebar mounting my VIRB yet, but IIRC my Gopro doesn't sound nearly that bad even when rigidly mounted via handlebar mount on my MTB. It sounds like there's some odd rubbing/scratching going on somewhere...I'll have to try handlebar mounting mine next ride.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      It's not just my MTB; the sound is equally annoying on my road bikes. Last time I took the VIRB out with me on a road bike, I turned the microphone off.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, mine definitely doesn't sound like that (in any situation, bike, swim, run, ski, plane...). Yours sounds like someone put a small animal in a blender.

      Reply
    • Hubert replied

      Thanks Ray.
      So I will forget camcorders while running.

      Reply
  2. mainlyrock

    Hi Ray,

    you got out of Kiev just in time to avoid the revolution.... You must be tired though, unusual number of typos in your post. I guess you caught the train back to Paris on Saturday and also it's the Seine river...

    Nevermind... I'm still waiting for the Florence Marathon race report.

    W

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, weekends that start earlier through off my entire weekend cadence (Friday becomes Saturday, Saturday becomes Sunday)...very confusing. :)

      Reply
  3. Eli

    One camera on each side of the helmet with post processing software to do 3d? Guess that'll be a few years from now

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Not in this case, this was just to show comparative image quality/stabilization. It's not a perfect match, but the best I can come up with for the circumstance.

      As for post-processing 3D with dual-cameras, GoPro has a case for that (which, I suspect, all of 3 people have ever used).

      Reply
    • Noel Smith replied

      I actually have the 3D case, so far all I've done with it is some hiking videos. It was pretty fun though! I just picked it and a second GoPro2 up when they were on clearance after the 3 came out. The 3D is done in the GoPro software after, and you can set it up to use multiple types of 3D viewing.

      Reply
  4. Bruno

    Hi Ray,

    Cool you are coming to Rio next weekend. Any plans already?

    Cheers, Bruno

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, I'll be in SP Thurs/Fri, and Rio from late Friday night until mid-way through the following week. No specific plans yet, but I'm open to suggestions and a possible meetup!

      Reply
    • Bruno replied

      Riding wise, we usually go on a 3-hour ride on Saturday morning. There is also a very nice ride in the forest I'm probably going on Sunday morning if you are up for a little climbing ;) But I must say the weather for the weekend is not very promising at this stage.

      I will be away from Monday on.... this crazy travel schedule as you know ;)

      Reply
  5. qzder

    When you're gonna public this big test of action camera?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It'll be in segments. I may get the Garmin Virb out later this week (was kinda waiting for the phone app to be released, but may forgo that for now and add it in later). I believe I have everything I need content wise on the Virb (regular and Elite)

      Beyond that, I'll probably do the Sony next, since I've had that the longest and understand it well. Then I'll decide on the JVC and Pyle. Given the Pyle has less functions than a rotary telephone, that'll be a short review. There's a few more unlisted ones, but those will be later in the month.

      Reply
    • Adam W replied

      Exactly what I was wondering. I need a DCRainmaker review as it may change some decisions for christmas

      Reply
  6. Hey Ray,

    What about running on tijuca forest in Rio and bike uphill all the way to the christ?

    Let me know, as we can arrange things!

    cheers

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Very tempting... are you able to arrange a bike as well? Trying to decide if I want to bring one.

      Reply
  7. nice to know you will be in Rio for a while.
    are you bringing your bike?
    some nice fellas would like to take you to some rides into our urban rain forest (Vista Chinesa, Corcovado, Sumare)

    join and send us a message at http://www.pelote.com.br

    regards,
    Carvalho

    Reply
  8. Drew

    fav photos are the action cam on the ski tipping into the bowl and the photo of you in dress socks - clearly you are high speed :)

    Reply
  9. Nicolas

    Hey Ray, Nice to see you are coming to Rio! Unfortunately I am out for the weekend but if you are in for a run from Sunday night to Wednesday, I am your man. Or you could test some other sport for once: what about surfing?? Drop me a mail!

    Reply
  10. Jim L

    The mountain bike clip above suffers from something common on many action cameras, the rolling-shutter effect that gives the wavy appearance with vibration. It is something that I have to battle in getting good video out of sports car racing and now apparently moutain biking.

    The AimSports people have been working on this for some time in developing different sensors for racing that eliminate that effect. They have a new camera which seems to work well in that regard.

    link to aim-sportline.com

    In general, the rolling shutter effect is usually best combated by making a mount more rigid. The more it moves, the more it gets that effect. That said, there was one car with one mount that adding a soft foam layer was beneficial. Usually, the camera companies want the mount as rigid as possible to eliminate the waviness.

    Reply
    • Paul S replied

      That could well be the problem. The Garmin handlebar mount puts the camera up about 6 cm above the handlebars. The mount is pretty rigid, but the give you two perpendicular axes to adjust the camera, so there's a little play. There's a rubber strip that goes in between the handlebar and the mount. The camera itself is fairly heavy, noticeably heavier than an Edge 800, for example. (I'm sure Ray will weigh the thing in his review :-)) So when you look down as you're riding along, you see the camera jiggling around. The GPX files that the Elite creates are full of acceleration measurements, so maybe they're trying to use the data from the accelerometer to compensate for the motion, but it sure doesn't work very well.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've been playing around with both the stock mounts and the K-Edge mounts on the bike. The K-Edge mounts are really solid for it, especially given the heavier weight. I've got some stuff on the same bike showing stock vs K-Edge, it's interesting.

      Reply
  11. Leonardo

    In case you bring your bike to Brazil I can get you in touch with a biking group who trains Thursdays mornings in the Univerisity of Sao Paulo from 5:20 to 6:30... it is a "so-so" place to train but the only viable option during weekdays

    Reply
  12. Theo

    Rio is a great place for sports!
    Riding in the mountains is really cool, but if you don't bring your bike don't worry. There are also great options for running or swimming (wetsuits hightly advised, we have cold water in the summer).

    Reply

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