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Capture Whistler's setting sun

Alpine photographer David McColm takes visitors to the peak



I never get bored. Every sky is different, and there are no crowds, which is great," photographer David McColm says.

McColm has been spending his summer nights the same way he has for years, up a mountain snapping sunsets, the Milky Way, and the valley hundred of metres below.

But this time he is taking guests, teaching them how to photograph the night sky from the peak of Whistler Mountain.

His alpine photography tours are offered through Whistler Blackcomb.

"We drive up to the peak, stop along the way and take some pictures. The goal is to capture interesting shots but also to be at the peak, depending on the conditions, and then we shoot the sky as the sun goes down," McColm says.

"The other day, we tried to shoot the full moon rising — the clouds were a bit uncooperative, but it was still pretty cool. The snow is still up there with the snow banks."

McColm takes the participants around in a four-wheel drive that is used for bear tours, shows them interesting locations and talks about photography.

"Many of the travellers who come along are people do photography tours when they go to new places," McColm says.

"Some want to learn about time-lapse work, some want to know how to take the best shot in the alpine."

They stay until a little after the sun goes down, and on darker nights they are able to see and shoot the northern lights. This is more likely in August than July. McColm says his best northern lights photos were taken in the summer.

"Back in the days before I was doing the tours, I would be walking down the mountain starting at 2 a.m. for four hours carrying all my gear, and then I couldn't walk properly afterwards," McColm recalls.

"Most people wouldn't do it that way, quite honestly."

Rates are $189 for adults aged 19 to 64, and $179 for youth and children aged seven to 18, and seniors aged 65 and over. Tours run from 7 to 10 p.m. in July and from 6 to 9 p.m. in August.

McColm says he also get called to do private late-night tours that take in the Milky Way or the northern lights, with the trips up the mountain starting at around 10 p.m.

He has also been giving free public lectures on his work at the theatre in the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain as part of the Whistler Blackcomb Speaker Series. The next one is on July 23 at 12:30 p.m. and there is another in August.

"It's a one-hour fun talk about what I do. I show photos and talk about them, and try to get people excited about getting outside at night and looking at the night sky," he says.

For more information, visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com and look under Events & Activities. Or call 1-800-7660449.