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Wisp 1/7/18
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Updated 9 months ago
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10 months ago

We took to the hills of Wisp on Sunday.  A cold start of ”zero” at 9 AM but no wind and the bluebird skies warmed up to the mid - upper teens by the afternoon.  I like Wisp.  It was the first place / time I ever skied when I was a Freshman at WVU.

Conditions were groomed packed powder.  Crowds were light as we mostly skied up to every lift.  I think 32 of 34 trails were open.  Base looked solid and we tried to ski just about every area of the mountain.  

Below are a few misc pics from our day but the real treat is this Kick Butt Video my buddy compiled last night. 

http://go2snowshoe.com/blog-post/wisp-resort-1-7-18/

We’re having a lot of fun this year documenting our ski travels with some of his really cool gadgets.

Top of Squirrel Cage

Base looking up

Lift View

Our stats

We covered the mountain

 

10 months ago

That video is great, really clear.  So your friend has a drone??  Is that how you got those amazing aerial shots in the first minute of the video?

10 months ago

JimK wrote:

That video is great, really clear.  So your friend has a drone??  Is that how you got those amazing aerial shots in the first minute of the video?

Yes sir.  DJI Phantom 4.  The drone has a 4K camera on it.  The land shots were taken with an older gopro hero 4 attached to a hand held gimbal.  The gimbal removes all the “shakiness” when filming and smooths out the video. 

10 months ago

Cool!  I noticed somebody in your crew (dressed in black?) actually waved at the drone.  It would be really neat to get a big posse together and have that thing follow them around the mtn filming the whole thing.  

10 months ago

JimK wrote:

Cool!  I noticed somebody in your crew (dressed in black?) actually waved at the drone.  It would be really neat to get a big posse together and have that thing follow them around the mtn filming the whole thing.  

Hahaha - that was a stranger and we thought it was funny that he waved.  We’d love to do that with a big posse. 

10 months ago

Blue Don 1982 wrote:

JimK wrote:

That video is great, really clear.  So your friend has a drone??  Is that how you got those amazing aerial shots in the first minute of the video?

Yes sir.  DJI Phantom 4.  The drone has a 4K camera on it.  The land shots were taken with an older gopro hero 4 attached to a hand held gimbal.  The gimbal removes all the “shakiness” when filming and smooths out the video.

Nice video but I a pretty sure what you’re doing with that drone without the property owner’s permission is extremely illegal. You don’t want to get your self in trouble.

10 months ago

snowsmith wrote:

Blue Don 1982 wrote:

JimK wrote:

That video is great, really clear.  So your friend has a drone??  Is that how you got those amazing aerial shots in the first minute of the video?

Yes sir.  DJI Phantom 4.  The drone has a 4K camera on it.  The land shots were taken with an older gopro hero 4 attached to a hand held gimbal.  The gimbal removes all the “shakiness” when filming and smooths out the video.

Nice video but I a pretty sure what you’re doing with that drone without the property owner’s permission is extremely illegal. You don’t want to get your self in trouble.

So, the good news is, it’s not illegal in the slightest (assuming Wisp is not under any temporary flight restrictions).  It looks like the only flight restrictions near Wisp are pretty far to the west around Camp Dawson.  

Private property owners have no right to the airspace above their property.  That is, I cannot do anything to prevent planes, helicopters, or, yes, drones, from flying over my house.  There are all kinds of laws about them taking photographs (especially if I have a reasonable assumption of privacy, like I’m in my bathroom), but not flying.  A very few places (like Disney World/Land) have successfully lobbied congress for permanent flight restrictions.

That said, almost every ski resort I’m aware of bans drones as part of their guest policies.  So, you’re not breaking any law, but they can kick you out (and perhaps even ban you for life).  Interestingly, while Snowtime and Snowshoe have posted drone policies (basically, “no drones”), I could not find one for Wisp.  That in and of itself is really making me want to plan a trip over there ASAP and get some drone footage with mine!

Potential grey areas would be if they are located on national parkland (drones are banned from national parks).  They can legally charge you with trespassing if you enter their property to launch your drone, but I’m pretty convinced there is nothing they could do if you launch from someplace else and simply fly over their property.  

I strongly suspect this will change in the coming years with the increasing popularity and sophistication of drones.  Right now, airspace laws are designed around manned flight, but that will have to change.

Back to the video, skiing is a perfect use case for drones.  A DJI Mavic can intelligently follow me down a run, avoiding trees as it goes, and getting perfectly smooth 4k video, without the need for me to fly it.  They can travel 40mph, so probably keep up with most skiers.  

Downsides are battery life in cold weather, potentially getting blown around in high winds, and running into other skiers or lifts.  A former google engineer started a company out west that uses commercial drones to film skiers on dedicated runs.  I’m not sure if it’s still operating:

https://www.fastcompany.com/3055609/you-cant-use-a-drone-to-film-yourself-skiing-but-these-ex-googlers-will-do-it-for-you

If people can find a place (maybe like Wisp) where they fly a drone without getting thrown out, I’d suggest to do it quickly.  I flew my drone at Snowshoe back before they had a policy, but wasn’t ballsy enough to fly it low over the slopes during operating hours (or when I was skiing).  Still, it attracted a lot of attention (all positive), and I haven’t done it in several years.

10 months ago

While I’m thinking about drones and skiing, another con is weather.  Drones are pretty finnicky about stuff like lighting and rain.  Forget trying to fly / film in any precipitation (snow or rain), fog, or even flat light.  Smaller, less expensive drones usually need bright sunlight to get good exposures and run at high shutter speeds, as they are using smaller, lighter sensors (think an iPhone camera versus a digital SLR).  They work great at the beach or in the desert, not so much in the harsh environments we often ski in.

Also, altitude can do funny stuff to their smart geotracking, including potentially making the fly into mountains (the aircraft might think it is very high in the air when it’s only a hundred feet above the ground).  

On the topic of ski photography / videography, the other thing I think is relevant is pricing.  I think the idea of a pro with a few drones (maybe one behind me, one to the side, and one in front of me flying backwards) following me down Cupp Run or Shay’s would be beyond cool.  But would I pay $500 for the video?  $100?  I don’t know.  I do know I like mountains like Snowbird and Snowbasin that have free photographers taking your picture on the slopes.  Steamboat had photographers that wanted to charge me something like $80, and I passed.  

10 months ago

Like most resorts - it’s buried on their website.  

http://www.wispresort.com/Privacy-Policy/ 

I think the resorts miss out on a HUGE marketing opportunity here.  But I get it - it’s their playground and their rules.

Hell, they should thank us for sharing their beautiful scenery with a bunch of folks that may come to their resort and spend $$.

10 months ago

Blue Don 1982 wrote:

Like most resorts - it’s buried on their website.  

http://www.wispresort.com/Privacy-Policy/ 

I think the resorts miss out on a HUGE marketing opportunity here.  But I get it - it’s their playground and their rules.

Hell, they should thank us for sharing their beautiful scenery with a bunch of folks that may come to their resort and spend $$.

Ahh, gotcha, thanks.  That link came up when I searched, but it is really buried in there (didn’t see it when I first skimmed it).  Other resorts’ policies are much larger / bolder / in your face.

One thing I forgot to mention is FAA rules require you to be within line of sight, so there’s only so close you can get from off their property.  If you were flying out of line of sight, you could get a ticket.  

To be honest, I’m not at all surprised by resort’s stance.  There are obvious liability implications if someone on a chairlift got hit by a drone flying 30mph.  Forget the fact that they are 100,000 more likely to be hit by a 200 pounds snowboarder going the same speed which will do way more damage than a 2 or 3 pound drone.

I have friends that work on drone response plans for very serious / critical places like federal prisons or sensitive government facilities.  Even they say it can be hard to stop / do anything about, at least without expensive equipment that I can promise mid-Atlantic ski resorts do not own.  

If you were subtle about it (ie not trying to fly under chairlifts or buzzing people), I could see someone off mountain not having too tough a time filming their friends for 20 minutes then flying out of sight of the resort and landing.  Almost all issues drone pilots have had (ie. cease and desist letters from lawyers) have been when they posted their video on youtube or vimeo and have been tracked down that way.

9 months ago

Hey Blue Don, what ski app are you using to get those ski stats for your day at Wisp? That drone/go pro video turned out awesome. 

9 months ago

SkiBunny wrote:

Hey Blue Don, what ski app are you using to get those ski stats for your day at Wisp? That drone/go pro video turned out awesome. 

Ski Tracks

https://www.corecoders.com/ski-tracks-app/

 

9 months ago

^ Thanks! I’ve been using Slopes this year and like it but am always interested in other apps as well. Do you know, does app tracking work ok at Snowshoe? I’m no technology wizard (clearly) and wasn’t sure if it being a Nat’l Quiet Zone impacts things at all there.

9 months ago

SkiBunny wrote:

 Do you know, does app tracking work ok at Snowshoe? 

Yep!  SS is my home mtn.  I turn my phone to airplane mode when I get there and use wifi for calls and texts.  It works fine on my Galaxy S6.

 

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