Climbing ice caves in the Alaskan wilderness, in the midst of sub-zero temperatures and winter winds, to capture photos calls for pretty hearty constitution – of both the photographer and their bag. Loweprofessional Chris Higgins recently put his Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW to the test under these extreme conditions and shared his experience – and some amazing photos – with us. Bundle up and enjoy!
I have always been a person who demands the most out of their gear. I take my camera to the most extreme environments and need gear that can withstand the harshest conditions Mother Nature can dish out. On my most recent trip to Alaska, I packed my gear in the Whistler BP 450 AW.
I put the bag to the test before I even had it packed when I snagged my freshly sharpened ice tool on the side of the bag. I was sure I would turn it over to see a hole in the fabric like I had done to so many packs before. I was shocked to find the Whistler fabric looked untouched.
As I hopped on the plane, I dreamed of my next ten days with bluebird skies in the Alaska Range. However, as so many climbers know, those bluebird skies remained only a dream. Alaska greeted us with sub-zero temperatures and blustery winds that brought a daily dump of several feet of fresh powder.
As all good outdoorsmen do, we had a Plan B when it came to our climbing. With the winter storm stuck firmly in place, we shifted our focus from big waterfall climbs to cross country skiing in search of ice caves. The ice caves would provide some challenging over-hanging ice routes and protection from the blustery winds as we climbed.
As a photographer, I need a pack that not only holds my gear, but protects it as well. I found that the Whistler made access into my pack during snow showers ideal. Despite the fact that I had my skis and ice tools strapped to the exterior of the Whistler, the pack was still able to unzip at different points, allowing me to access necessities like my camera without exposing the rest of my gear to the harsh winter elements. The real bonus was that I could get in and out of my pack with ease without ever having to remove a single piece of gear from the pack.
The Whistler pack was made with winter in mind. The pack has a waterproof flap underneath the main zipper to ensure extra protection for my camera gear inside. I found this feature to be especially handy as we spent the next several days skinning up glaciers in search of ice caves.
When it came time to ski down I could easily rip my wet skins off my skis and place them in the safety of my pack with the water proof flap in between the skins and my camera. I found this to be an essential part of the pack, because it meant that I never had to risk a single piece of gear.