Thursday 11 August 2022

The Grand Canyon & Lowe Alpine Memories,

Back in 2017 I wrote this piece on the classic Lowe Alpine Expedition, which was the first ever internal frame pack. A year later I posted it on this blog and forgot about it. Until yesterday when I had a request for a brief inteview from a writer for Backpacker magazine in the USA who had come across my article. Corey Buhay really wanted to talk to someone who'd used the original pack but reckoned I'd do as I had used one in the 1980s. As the original came out in 1967 I guess there's not too many people still around who used one.

This reminded me that I did have photos of a Lowe Alpine pack from the 1990s that had an updated version of the original back system that had revolutionised pack design. I'd used this pack on a two-week trip in the Grand Canyon and it had been excellent. I posted some black-and-white photos two years ago on the 25th anniversary of my trip. Now I have an excuse to post them again!

My 1995 pack was a Lowe Alpine Alpamayo with a capacity of 70 litres. I needed a big pack as I only had one resupply and so twice carried a week's food and also regularly carried two gallons of water - the Grand Canyon is a dry place and water sources are far apart. I also had 9lbs/4kg of camera gear. My notes say that my base weight without the cameras was 26lbs/12kg, which doesn't sound bad. However add in the cameras, a week's food, and all that water and my total load reached 66lbs/ 30kg at the start of each section. I needed a pack capable of handling that weight. And the Alpamayo did so comfortably. At 5.6lbs/2.5 kg it was quite heavy in itself but it was made of tough fabric that stood up well to the abrasive stony and sandy terrain and the spiky vegetation of the Grand Canyon. 

Having been founded in Utah by the mountaineers and brothers Greg, Mike and Jeff Lowe Lowe Alpine has exchanged hands a number of times over the years and is currently owned by British company Equip Outdoor Technologies, whose other brand is Rab. Under its various parent companies Lowe Alpine has never stopped making packs. I recently reviewed a recent one for TGO magazine. It's good that this pioneering company is still going.

The Grand Canyon walk was superb, one of the best shorter backpacking trips I've done. The Canyon is unique, extraordinary, spectacular, beautiful. I loved it.

Photography note.I had two film SLRs - a Nikon F801 I used with Fujichrome colour transparency film and a Nikon FM2  I used with Ilford FP4 Plus black-and-white film. My lenses were Nikkor 24mm, Nikkor 75-150mm and Sigma 28-70mm. I also had a Gitzo Loisir tripod.

I photographed these prints with my Sony NEX 7 camera with Sony E 35mm lens and processed the raw files in Lightroom. For this piece I processed the raw files again in DxO PureRaw and then Lightroom. The reprocessed images are sharper and less noisy, though this isn't really noticeable in the low res images posted here.

When (if) I locate the negatives I may be able to get better results.One day I will also scan some of the colour images.

No comments:

Post a Comment