Chris Burkard Travel #1
prAna Ambassador Chris Burkard Takes Us Along For The Ride
Autumn in Switzerland is magical. It’s such a rare time where you can see the towering mountain peaks dusted with snow, while at the same time finding vivid fall colors. I had been trying to plan a trip here for many years to no avail; it’s always so hard calling a trip like this off due to logistical hurdles. Finally, after tons of planning, everything came together.
As I spent time traveling around the area I was able to leave with some very valuable lessons that I will hold onto for the rest of my photographic career. Each new trip opens my eyes to how much I can still learn about the world around me! Every trip is a personal growth experience and Switzerland was no different. Below are a few of the most prevalent take-aways as a first-timer to Switzerland.
“Each new trip opens my eyes to how much I can still learn about the world around me! Every trip is a personal growth experience and Switzerland was no different.”
1. Check the weather, and check again
Throughout my extensive travels in the Arctic, I quickly realized that the weather can solely make or break an entire trip. There are tons of travel sites out there that will provide you with good insight on the ideal times of year to visit, but this can really differ from how the weather actually takes shape. Make sure you spend time exploring the real-time conditions while also considering the long-term weather forecasts for the specific area you are going.
2. International SIM card
Service is spotty, especially in the more remote regions of the Swiss Alps. It can also be extremely expensive, but this can be avoided by planning ahead. Whether it requires an international SIM card or a special plan through your wireless carrier, it will save you a lot of money! Keep in mind that some wireless carriers can potentially suspend your service from heavy data usage.
“Exploring the outdoors in Switzerland requires you to be on foot, often covering varying distances. I found some incredible landscapes to shoot just by hiking a few miles back on local trails with a light camera pack.”
3. Keep “distance vs. time” in mind
The windy single lane roads pose a serious threat to anyone who is trying to cover a large distance over the course of the day. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned on my trip. For example, it can easily take 30-45 minutes to go between two locations that lie only 3 miles apart. Google maps are an incredible resource to map out which locations are attainable when working within a tight schedule.
4. Lens choice is crucial!
Exploring the outdoors in Switzerland requires you to be on foot, often covering varying distances. I found some incredible
landscapes to shoot just by hiking a few miles back on local trails with a light camera pack. Lenses occupy an insane amount of space which forced me to be strategic in which equipment I brought:
- Sony 16-35mm — Go-to landscape lens and great for capturing the vast landscapes of Switzerland
- Sony 24-70mm — Perfect for any action oriented photographing (kayaking, mountain biking, trail running)
- Zeiss 25mm f2 — Prime lenses work incredibly for shooting night imagery, I didn’t take this prime lens off the entire night!
5. Extra insulation layer, ALWAYS
Having an extra (easily accessible) insulation layer proved to be crucial multiple times throughout the trip. I was surprised how fast the temperature would drop during the last few hours before sunset. My first choice would be a down puffy. It provides a lot of warmth and can be packed small.
We spent day and night in the surrounding areas kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking in what seemed like an endless area of beautiful mountain ranges! Needless to say, the second we landed the only thing I could think about was getting to the town of Zermatt and finally seeing this iconic peak for myself.
As an outdoor photographer, I have fantasized about photographing the iconic Matterhorn since I started taking my camera into the wilderness. I’ve seen epic mountain ranges all over the world from Alberta to Iceland, the Pacific Northwest to my own backyard, but the Matterhorn continues to have such a symbolic presence to me. There is a very rich heritage behind this mountain peak that points back to a pioneer movement of European explorers in the mid 1800’s. The treacherous Matterhorn face was seen as the ultimate feat of human exploration and continues to be one of the most critical peaks in the world.
Learn more about Chris Burkard – prAna Ambassador