The SUUNTO SPARTAN SPORT WRIST HR BLUE

I have logged 799 activities with my Suunto devices. This includes hikes, via ferrata, climbing, swimming and scuba diving. I like Suunto devices because their battery life is good enough to last through entire days of hiking and the battery lasts for weeks between charges when used as a simple watch.

Spartan HR

I like to track my heart rate but I often feel self conscious about putting the heart rate monitor belt on. With the latest Spartan watch I no longer need to worry about the belt. At the same time as I start the activity I will be able to keep track of the heart rate. This is especially good for group activities when you do not want to keep people waiting and in winter when you’re wearing layers of clothing.

I like that devices like the Fitbit Charge 2 can be worn at almost all times and track heart rate effortlessly when at the climbing gym and during other activities. I look forward to the same simplicity with a Suunto device. I especially like that Suunto devices survive swims and showers.

I like that the Suunto Ambit 3 tracks how many steps I take during the day. It’s a shame that the step count is not logged and visible on Movescount. I like to see how energetic or lazy I have been on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. It’s not unusual for me to go from a 21,000 step day to a 6000 step day. It depends on weather, work and other factors. If you go for a bike ride your step count will not be high.

I will wait to see whether they apply this technology to the Suunto Ambit watch collection. If they come out with the Suunto Ambit 4 Wrist HR then I will be tempted to upgrade. With 799 tracked activities I believe Suunto devices have demonstrated that they are reliable.

A fear of mountain trails – a healthy concern

In Switzerland you grow up walking on mountain paths that are narrow and steep. One one side you have the mountain and on the other you have a steep slope. I remember having a fear of mountain trails once or twice in the German part of Switzerland. I think it was in Kandersteg. You walk along a path high above a lake. If you fall and slip in the grass then you may be unable to stop. You could fall off the cliff. Fear or concern are normal in such circumstances.

A week ago we went climbing as a group of friends in the Jura near Vallorbe. One person was scared. I was not there to witness this person’s fear but a year ago I did accompany someone who was afraid. I slowed down to that person’s speed and provided a hand when needed. I also provided moral support. These trails are an integral part of Via Ferrata. When I was still a child I did slide on the way up to La Dole but stopped within metres of where I fell. I climbed back up with no problem. Ironically last week someone did slip when we were walking back at night. He did not slide far. Luckily the person who was afraid missed this incident.

Walking up to a via ferrata
Walking up to a via ferrata

If you want to do the Via Ferrata du Rocher de Naye you walk on narrow trails with a steep drop on one side. Experience keeps us sure-footed. Experience tells us that if we do slip or fall we can recover. We know how to avoid slipping and falling in the first place.

Danger of falling
Danger of falling

The reality of the mountains is that we do hear of people slipping and sliding to their deaths when hiking in the mountains. In summer the stories of people killed by avalanches are replaced by the stories of older hikers sliding to their deaths. The dangers and threat are real and it is for this reason that experienced hikers need to help less experienced hikers. We need to keep those we are with both safe and comfortable. If they are uncomfortable we must turn around and find a more appropriate route.

Dangerous scree path
“Beware, dangerous corridor, you are committing yourself under your own responsibility.

When you complete the Rocher de Naye Via Ferrata you can either go down with the train or you can hike down via this route. This route takes you via a scree field where rocks are loose. You could slip and slide or you could loosen rocks that hit people below you.

Walking down from the Tour D'aï
Walking down from the Tour D’aï

Either you can walk up to the Tour D’aï or you can enjoy the Via Ferrata. If you enjoy the via ferrata you must keep in mind that you are walking down an alpine trail to get back. These are marked by the blue and white trail markers. There is a sheer drop to the side of this trail. Wearing the right shoes and being sure-footed is key. The landscape is beautiful from this vantage point but experience is key to staying safe.

 

In August I will be at FIFAD

In August of this year I will be at FIFAD as a volontaire. FIFAD stands for Festival International du Film Alpin Des Diablerets. It’s the international Alpine Film Festival of the Diablerets. I want to participate at this event for three main reasons.

The first of these is that I have a passion for the documentary film genre and adventure films. I really enjoyed going to Montagne en Scène a few weeks ago and I expect to enjoy having the freedom to watch certain of the films at this event.

The second reason I want to go as a helper is that every time I have applied to help at an event I have got something out of it. I have built my confidence. I have met interesting people and I have found new and interesting ideas. In this case I hope to view a number of the films.

The third reason is that I will have an opportunity to spend a week in the mountains once again. I have frequently been to Diablerets for hikes and just once to enjoy a via ferrata. This time I will get to stay for a few extra days and learn to appreciate the town differently. I will have my 360 camera and via ferrata gear with me. Time to ride a tyrolean in 360 right? I hope it won’t rain too heavily. People told me they got wet last time they went under the waterfall.

When I watch an interesting film or hear someone talk about an interesting topic I will try to take notes and write related blog posts. It’s good to share the knowledge and passion with you.

Summer Nyon

 

Summer Nyon
Summer Nyon

This is an image of Nyon on a day when the thermometer indicated at least 31°c on a sunny Sunday afternoon. In this image you can see the CGN boat leaving Nyon and heading towards Geneva. You can see the Jet D’eau in the background. You can see a sailing boat in the distance, some kayakers nearby and two pedalos. What you don’t see in this image are the people playing volleyball, other people sitting at Nyon Plage or yet more people at the Nyon Swimming Pool.

From Nyon you can cycle along the lake road to Geneva or Lausanne and if you feel you have the stamina you could cycle from Nyon to Nyon by taking the long way around. This may take 10 hours depending on your level of fitness and endurance.

If this does not tempt you then you could go up to the Jura. You can either go up towards La Dôle and choose one of three routes to get to the doppler radar or you could go to St Cergue and walk from that side to the peak. The walk is short but physical so make sure to take appropriate shoes and something to drink.

If those options do not tempt you then you can catch the boat you see in the image above or the smaller boat that you see below. These boats are regular. People like to take the boat from Nyon to Yvoire, have lunch, dinner or an ice cream and then come back. If you have the right friends then you could do this trip on a sailing boat as we used to do frequently with one friend.

CGN boat
CGN boat

Nyon has quite a few activities to distract people in summer so if you’re in the region there are a few events and activities to choose from.

The Moléson VF with the Narrative Clip 2

The Narrative Clip 2 is a specialist camera that can be programmed to take photos at regular intervals whilst you enjoy activities. This is sometimes referred to as life logging. The idea is that you wear the camera either on clothing or place it somewhere where it can capture the passage of time.

For this event the camera was worn around my neck and took pictures throughout the activity. As you can see from the last image I had the Ricoh Theta S on a monopod and the Sony Xperia Z5 compact for other pictures. You do not see that I had a fourth camera with a 30 times optical zoom.

The camera took over four hundred images during this event and I chose just a few. I avoid sharing images of people unless I have their informed consent. I share the images that best represent the pleasant moments.

If I took the time I could rotate this camera to be horizontal and I could capture daily timelapses. Every time I go for a bike ride or a hike it would capture regular images. The camera has enough battery power and you can keep the camera in your pocket until you want to start logging the event. When the event is finished you can place the camera back in to your pocket and head home for example.

An improvement which I have recently noticed is that when you put the camera to charge it can automatically upload the day’s images to the narrativeapp website and you can then select what you want to share.

As cameras get smaller and more portable and as they become more specialised so we have an opportunity to get different types of images. One is for time lapses, the other has a powerful zoom, the third allows us to capture spherical images and the fourth is practical for sharing to social media.

 

A 360 timelapse walk through the woods

Yesterday I went for a 360 timelapse walk through the woods above Trelex. I set the camera to take an image every 8 seconds. As the woods were dark and dense it took some effort not to walk in too much mud and not to slip too many times. The result of the timelapse is not as good as I had hoped. Ideally I want to find a way to fix the camera so that it looks at my direction of travel.

From this footage you see that the camera suffered with the lack of light and that because the camera occasionally rotated to the right it is easy to become disorientated. It is for this reason that it is useful to find wide open spaces when possible and to find places with a lot of ambient light.

What I like about this video is that we can see the various exercise locations. We can see the horizontal bars, the rings and other activities. When I design something to hold the camera steady while I walk with it I can have a little more fun. I could hang on the rings or play with the bars.

With a little luck the month and a half of bad weather is coming to an end and I will be able to go out and get to some interesting locations to film some time lapses.

There are a number of panoramic locations that I think would lend themselves well to 360° views. Imagine a walk by the lake side or a walk near the summit with a view of the landscape below.

What locations or sites would you like to see as 360° timelapse videos?

Suunto and Sports tracker collaborate.

I have been using sports tracker for years. I first used it on the Nokia N95 8GB several years ago. This was an excellent app that allowed you to track your moves using the mobile phone as a GPS. The limitation of such an app was battery life on mobile phones. The battery usually did not last more than an hour at first and eventually progressed to two hours or more.

The first Suunto Device I used was for diving. I used the Suunto D9 dive computer for many months before upgrading. As I satisfied with this device I bought the Suunto Ambit 2 and eventually the Suunto Ambit 3. The reason for buying these watches is battery life. As normal watches they can last for 100 days, losing about one percent a day. If you use them as fitness watches then they easily last for a day or more.

When you’re doing via Ferrata, hiking, cycling or doing other sports you want the device you use to track your fitness efforts for as long as you’re going. That’s where Sports trackers and other mobile phones had their weakness. Mobile phone apps sometimes crash. If you’re pushing yourself hard during a workout you do not want to reach the end of a workout with no data.

Another frustration I often encountered was with Movescount, Suunto’s social sports app. At the end of quite a few workouts, I was unable to sync my workout data and analyse my progress. At the time,

I wanted to see Suunto and Sports tracker combined. They’re both Finnish companies and they both excel at specific tasks. Suunto for the hardware and Sports tracker for the analytics. By combining the two we have the best of both worlds.

Communications between Movescount and Sports tracker has been available for several weeks at this point and it works flawlessly. I have hiked, cycled, walked, sailed and climbed and each activity has synced without problems.

Chamois at La Dôle

A chamois silhouetted against the clouds up at la Dole
A chamois silhouetted against the clouds up at la Dole

When the weather is cold and grey as it is today people are not tempted by a walk in the mountains. Chamois at la Dôle are more relaxed, especially up at La Dôle. They are hidden by the clouds and if humans are coming then they will smell them long before we get to see them.

On Friday of last week we were lucky. With a friend we decided that we would eat lunch at La Barillette after going for a short walk up from the radio mast to the Sky Guide facilities above.

There was a light drizzle and the clouds were playing. At moments we could see the top and at other moments it was hidden by clouds. We walked up the path and saw a few cows spread about the landscape.

As we started up the steep path and arrived to where the path flattens we could see two or three chamois in the distance. I thought at first that it was just the mother I had seen several months earlier with her young one. As we approached and as the wind blew away some clouds we saw a full herd.

A herd of Chamois up at La Dole
A herd of Chamois up at La Dole

This was excellent. It is rare to see so many of them so close together like that and from such a short distance. At moments we were just metres away from them. It was a rare and welcome privilege.

Chamois approaching the cliff edge
Chamois approaching the cliff edge

Switzerland, Fitness centres and the mountains

For three years I was a fitness club member. I loved going to the gym up to three times a week when possible. I loved training so much that I bought apps and devices to track my progress. Any time that I could not spend three sessions a week at the gym I felt disappointed. That passion, when you are in full time work can be hard to keep active.

I tried going to the gym at 6am and I tried going after work but the habit never picked up. In Switzerland fitness memberships can vary from 700-900 CHF per year to over 1200 CHF per year depending on the membership perks you take. If you go to the gym 52 times a year that’s 23 CHF per session. If you go twice a week it’s reduced to just 11 CHF per week. If you go three times a week it’s 7 CHF per session.

In theory this is a reasonable price. It’s less than a week’s pay for most professionals. In practice you want to justify the expense. You want to go to the gym when you have time. This means weekends, evenings and on public holidays. I was often frustrated to have free time but for the gym to be closed.

I would love to see gyms that take your outdoor sporting passions in to account. Running and cycling are already somewhat covered in the lac Léman region of Switzerland. What I would like to see next are ski days, via ferrata excursions and canyoning within the club.

During week days and when the weather is bad you would train in the fitness centre. As soon as summer weekends and holidays would allow then as a fitness centre you would enjoy the great outdoors. I see through Glocals and facebook groups that the interest to do activities in groups is there. Fitness centres could attract a younger demographic to join.

I love physical fitness and I love exercise. If I lived in a city like London or Paris I’d be happy to sit in a gym and train. I’d have filtered air and less traffic to contend with. As I live in the Swiss countryside though I want to take full advantage of what nature has to offer. When I find a fitness club that offers discounted canyoning, waterskiing and other activities, and subsidised via ferrata and ski days then I will rejoin.

Le Sentier des Toblerones

Le Sentier des Toblerones

Toblerones Walk from Mainvision on Vimeo.

Hidden among the trees in the Canton de Vaud you can find concrete blocks put there as a defensive line to slow down invading armies. The concrete blocks have a similar shape to chocolate Toblerones. There is a hiking trail that you can follow from Bassin down to the lake side. Along the way you can find concrete bunkers camouflaged as houses.