Capturing the Experience Deep in the Karakoram

Capturing the Experience Deep in the Karakoram
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story and photos by Graham Zimmerman

In June of 2017, I was in final preparations for an 8-week alpine climbing expedition to a rarely visited and challenging to access corner of the Pakistani Karakoram. I was headed to the Kiberi Glacier that runs along the heavily contested actual ground position line between Pakistan and India with my dear friends and climbing partners Steve Swenson and Chris Wright. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity with some of the most stunning peaks in the world striking severely from the deep glacier including the infamous and unclimbed Link Sar (7040m).

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With my training winding down and my climbing equipment prepared I was left to make my final preparations for how I would capture the experience. This was not only a massive opportunity for me as a professional athlete but also as a filmmaker and photographer. I needed to make sure that I had the appropriate equipment to capture the experience, backup my data and keep my kit charged. It had to be light, able to travel on international flights and long bumpy jeep rides while serving surviving severe weather, dust, and heat.

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During the expedition, we experienced rather foal weather leaving us to our own devices in base camp for day after day. While ultimately quite frustrating it allowed for me to work on a photography project for which I was very excited. Having carted a 1200mm lens into basecamp, I hoped to capture visually the deep visceral emotions that I experience while spending time in mountains like those of the Pakistani Karakoram. By zooming in on the swirling clouds, monolithic granite, and chaotic ice I hoped to share the awe, respect, fear and attraction that those walls instill within me; the emotions that keep bringing me back.

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I invite you to look at the images included with this blog post and ask yourself, what do they inspire in you?

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Below is a list of what I decided upon to capture the mountains of Pakistan.

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CHARGING: With no power supplies anywhere near basecamp, it was a necessity to charge large amounts of electronics including a laptop, camera batteries, smartphones, and lighting. For this, I chose to rely on the Goal Zero line of solar charging projects with a few additions.

-Yeti 150 Battery to run computer and charge batteries

-2x Sherpa 100 Batteries for backups and easy transport to high camps.

-Little Battery

-4x Nomad 20 solar panels

-Watson dual charger with 12v adapter

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CAMERAS: To capture the experience I needed to make sure I carried a full range of bodies and lenses into basecamp without being excessive. I needed to be prepared for shooting stills images and video while having a lightweight option for on route. I also needed a grip of batteries to make sure that I would not run out.

-Sony A7rii with internal time-lapse application

-Sony A7sii with Rode Mic and stabilization cage

-Rokinon 14mm Prime

-Canon 35mm Prime

-Canon 24-105mm Zoom

-Sigma 150-600mm Zoom (with doubler)

-Sony A6300 (with 24-50mm pancake lens)

-25 batteries

-GoPro Hero5

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BACKUP: Backing up data is imperative, Particularly when in the field of 8 weeks. To ensure that all of the content captured would be preserved during the trip and the ride home I brought a combination of options allowing me to make sure that I was 100% sure that I would not lose any information. Having a MacBook would also allow me to watch movies during storms, which while not imperative would be really nice!

-MacBook Pro

-Western Digital Passport Pro 4TB portable RAID HDD

-Transcode 2TB HDD

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LIGHTING: Whether climbing at night, staying up late to capture nightscapes or simply to stay up late working in my tent after my partners had headed off to bed I needed lighting that would work well and last the duration.

-Goal Zero Light-A-Life Quad USB Light Set.

-Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge USB Lantern

-Petzl Reactik+ Headlamp

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Graham has now returned from the Pakistani Karakoram where he and his partners attempted the East Face of Link Sar. While the team was unsuccessful due to challenging terrain and awful weather, they had an outstanding experience. You can follow all of Graham’s  adventure on his Facebook page and his stunning Instagram account, @grahamzimmerman

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