KCRA Donner Ski Ranch–Extended Ski Season – GoPro
This is the third story in three years dealing with wintertime conditions and Donner Ski Ranch>.
California has abruptly gone from five years of drought, where one year I never once went “up the hill”–our local slang for driving up I-80 or Highway 50 to the mountains–to cover snow. Because there wasn’t any!
In the 2015-2016 season the snow came back, but this past 2016-2017 season it has come back with a vengeance! As of this week the Sierra snowpack is 187% of normal.
I went up to Donner Ski Ranch to check in on how the snow has impacted business — and was greatly surprised by what I found out.
I like going to Donner Ski Ranch because it is the only privately owned & operated ski resort in Northern California, and since they are not corporately run, the only time they get on TV is when news crews come by. Owner Janet Tuttle has been very welcoming to me over the years, and gives me free, unescorted access, so I like going up there.
(And Note: I have never been offered nor asked for any freebies. I’m sure they would comp me a lift ticket if I asked, but 1) I don’t feel comfortable doing that sort of thing; and 2) I don’t ski. Heights and sliding on steep, frozen surfaces without a brake is not my thing. Although I love photographing it!)
(Note: It is common for the resorts to offer comp lift tickets, and sometimes lunches, to media to use on days off to come up and ski free. I have never accepted nor asked for freebies. 1) I don’t feel comfortable doing that sort of thing. 2) I don’t ski. Heights and sliding on steep, frozen surfaces without a brake is not my thing. Although I love photographing it! My only compensation for going up to the resorts and doing these stories arrives every two weeks from KCRA.)
In continuing with my series of articles on my incorporation of action camera footage into my news stories, using it as a primary A-camera as opposed to a gimmicky B-camera–I used my GoPro Hero Silver 3+ in quite a number of my B-roll shots.
Having a GoPro mounted to the front windshield and shooting forward was invaluable in showing what the road conditions were and how high the snow pack wall is that line the single two-lane road–more of a 1 1/2 lane road much of the way–that takes you from Interstate-80 to Donner Ski Ranch.
In writing these series of stories on my incorporation of GoPro footage into my news work, I am not endorsing the GoPro cameras specifically. I am only writing about how I have been using the GoPro Hero Silver 3+ that was given to me by my tremendous sister Margo.
I have purchased the new GoPro Hero 5 Black and will be writing about that in coming articles as I learn how to use it better.
Also, to diversify my exploration of low-cost action cameras in use as a primary camera for shooting news, as compared with my $50,000 Sony news camera, I am researching under-$100 action cameras and plan to purchase one shortly and experiment with using one of those.
I will incorporate footage from that camera provided it meets quality standards. But I am going to do this because I do not want to be seen as exclusive or as a flagrant endorser of GoPro.
In order to get more dynamic views of the thickly snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, I rode up the lift to the summit to get high views of the mountain tops all around me.
I was accompanied on the ride by the lift supervisor for safety reasons. I don’t make rides like this often. It is pretty hairy. It’s a narrow bench and the ride up was without a bar holding us in. And I’m not good around heights! The lift supervisor held the tripod for me and I had the strap of my Sony HD XDCAM securely slung over a shoulder. It was not advised to shoot with that big 25-pound behemoth. So I shot with the GoPro going up and back and got terrific & striking views of the mountainsides and the vast amounts of snow aerial & up close.
Thanks to all the good people at Donner Ski Ranch that day–both those who work at & operate the resort & the patrons–who were all so generous in talking to me.
Looking forward to getting up there later in the season and seeing people skiing in shorts & T-shirts in May & June!