Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race

April 4th, 2010

In 2009 I was invited to photograph and write about the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, which is undoubtably the hardest race of its kind in the world. In teams of four, the competitors raced 300 kms unsupported through some of the wildest terrain on earth, in sea-kayaks, on mountain-bikes and on foot.

Chris Koch of team Spirit Canada at Cabo Forward on the Magellan Straights Copyright Alex Ekins

The photographers and photojournalists had to travel through the same terrain, wait at checks points in the rain, travel in Zodiacs, ride in the back of pick-ups and. Protecting myself and my equipment from the incessant rain and damp was the obvious priority.

British Team Helly Hansen Prunesco members Andy Wilson and Bruce Duncan Copyright Alex Ekins

My primary camera was a Canon 5D with Canon 17-40 F4L and a Canon 70-200 F2.8L. I carried a Canon 20D and a Canon G9 as back up, however the reliability of the 5D made them both redundant. I also needed to carry two Canon Speedlites and off-camera sync cord, a Apple Powerbook in a Hagloffs waterproof case and what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of power cords and cable for recharging, image transfers etc etc. All this kit was carried in a Lowepro Dryzone 200.  This rucksack is excellent, very versatile and capable of carrying extra personal equipment such as water bottles and waterproof clothing. The Powerbook inside the Hagloff fitted snugly inside the main compartment next to the cameras.I don’t like the back system, it feels a little unstable. I prefer fixed systems. However the key feature of this sac that sets it apart, is the fact that it’s 100%  waterproof. I had to bivouac in the rain on a beach on the Magellan Straits and the sac was left in the rain all-night. My cameras were bone-dry. On a later occasion I was happy to strap the bag to the open deck of a fishing boat for 12-hours. The waterproof zip can sometimes be a little sticky but little spittle loosens it up.

The British Team Helly Hansen Prunesco Sea Kayaking on the Magallan Straights Copyright Alex Ekins

For clothing I used merino wool next the skin with two mid-layers, a Montane Prism with a Mountain Equipment Fitzroy. For waterproofing I used Paramo Cascada trousers and a Valez Adventure Smock. Mountain Equipment synthetic sleeping bag handled the damp extremely well and keep me warm during the wet bivouac on a beach in the Magellan straits

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