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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whatever It Takes

Adventure photographer James Kay’s career is defined by his tenacity and drive to bypass the ordinary and take the extra steps to get something extraordinary

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James Kay’s Outdoor Gear

MSR Reactor Stove
For easy camp cooking, the MSR Reactor is a fast-boiling, fuel-efficient stove designed to work in the most challenging outdoor environments. The Reactor’s radiant burner is enclosed by a heat exchanger, which helps it to perform in windy conditions, while an advanced pressure regulator provides optimal heat output over the life of each fuel canister. One liter of water boils in just three minutes. A collapsible handle locks the unique see-through lid in place for safe and easy transport. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: Cascade Designs, (206) 505-9500, www.cascadedesigns.com.

MSR E-Bivy
When the weather takes a turn, stay dry in the MSR E-Bivy, which weighs just nine ounces and packs to the size of a soda can. A half-length zipper provides venting and easy exits. A short overlap shelters the zipper from moisture, so you don’t get soaked during the night. The emergency shelter can be used as protection for your sleeping bag under a tarp or for extra warmth. The coated and fully waterproof floor keeps you dry, even on wet ground, and slows heat loss. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: Cascade Designs, (206) 505-9500, www.cascadedesigns.com.

The NEMO Gogo is a one-person bivy and tent with inflatable poles that won’t break or weigh down your pack. The Gogo has an adjustable vestibule called the ExoFly, which allows you to keep all of your gear inside and increase the floor space of the bivy, or you can unclip the body from the attached vestibule and have a separate space for storing gear, preparing food and more. The Gogo weighs 1.9 pounds and provides 19 square feet of room; the vestibule is five square feet. Estimated Street Price: $289. Contact: NEMO, (800) 997-9301, www.nemoequipment.com.

Silva Ranger 515 CL
Keep your sense of direction sharp with the Silva Ranger 515 CL compass. It has a bright, easy-to-read bezel (compass dial), adjustable declination and a split-sighting mirror for pinpoint accuracy when navigating over distant landmarks. There are three scales for quick, easy plotting with any topographic map. A clinometer lets you measure angles of inclination. The compass weighs just 2.4 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $54. Contact: Silva, (800) 572-8822, www.silvacompass.com.

Amethyst Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

This was the image that nearly got away. It turned out to be the only decent photograph I captured during a four-day backpacking trip into the Canadian Rockies. While the physical effort was only moderate, the grim sky conditions made it particularly frustrating. A dreary stretch of cloudy weather settled in soon after I began my 12-mile backpack to Amethyst Lake. I scheduled three nights at a campsite near the lake’s eastern shore in hopes that this would give me a window of opportunity for at least one good sunrise on The Ramparts, a 3,000-foot rock wall that leaps from the lake’s western shore. Regardless of the dismal skies that greeted me each morning, I got up before dawn to get into position just in case there was a break in the clouds.

Finally, on my last morning, the clouds were beginning to thin out overhead, but it looked just as thick to the east as the previous two mornings. I set up my tripod anyway, and just as I was about to give up, the peaks began to glow from a jagged beam of sunlight that pierced a small unseen hole in the clouds to the east. I only had enough time to shoot three frames before the hole closed up and the light beam disappeared. The clouds thickened and lowered and that turned out to be the only direct sun I saw during the four days. As I look back, I recall saving lots of money on film and sunscreen on that trip.

Pentax 67, Pentax 45mm lens, Fujichrome Velvia, Bogen 3021 tripod


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