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Behind The Lens in the Himalayas

When Photographer Ben Turner and Reporter Laura Makin-Isherwood set about planning a photo documentary in one of the harshest environments on earth, where they needed to be prepared, we kitted them out to help them scale the heights to Base Camp. In part one of a three part series, Laura reports back from The Himalayas.

Why are you going to Everest? What is the project about?

Everest has always fascinated Ben. A commercial photographer by day, climber by night, I’d watched him read all the books he could find on the heroes that have summited the world’s highest peak. But there was something missing.

He wanted to see what life was really like behind the scenes. But while he found tonnes about the ‘western warriors’ there were few images of the communities that thrive in this isolated region.

So we decided to change it. Create our own photo-documentary; on a trip that would take three weeks, include a perilous mountain flight, a 5400m climb and a significant battle with limited oxygen at altitude.

Neither of us had done anything like it before. We studied maps and planned a route pin-pointing the towns and villages that could give us insight into life in the Khumbu Region.

But while booking flights is easy… preparing and packing for a trip to one of the harshest environments on earth is something else entirely. 


How did you prepare, kit wise?

We needed kit that would cover three weeks away from luxuries; clothes that could perform day in, day out, and at temperatures down to -15C.  They had to be durable (limited washing facilities meant at least four days continuous wear) and, along with the camera gear and tripod, had to fit in a single backpack. Because at altitude, weight is the enemy.

The first thing to sort were the base layers. We needed the holy grail of trekking material: Merino wool. For that, Finisterre was a natural partner. Having followed the brand’s growth from the first fleece, we already owned Finisterre gear. Everyone always commented on how much they loved my grey down-free insulated jacket (still going strong after five years wear), and some of Finisterre's first thermal vests had kept me warm on long cold shoots around the south-west.

We were pleased that Finisterre could provide the entire base layer range: vests, base layers tops, long johns and underwear. And where other brands might only have one purpose, the Finisterre garments were multi-functional, including dropped shoulder seams to deal with backpack wear.

The Finisterre team put a packing list together kitting us out in gear that would meet all our needs. Unrivalled in warmth, antibacterial and odour resistant so would last several days between washes; hats, socks, long-johns, waterproofs, we had all we needed. And Everest was going to be the ultimate place to test them out.

Now to check it would fit in a backpack!


That night we laid everything out, rolled up and bundled together. The Merino base layers were phenomenally light, as were the jackets, ready to deal with any snow.

The insulated jackets could be packed down just a fraction of its normal size (and could double up as a pillow!) and even with hats, socks and a wool jumper the entire bundle came in at under 5kg. Perfect for the 48 litre backpacks, and a huge relief given the amount of camera gear going with them.

Next stop, Kathmandu.


  • 2 x BASE LAYER - Essential next to skin and for layering
  • 2 x LEGGINGS/LONG JOHNS - To keep warm on colder days and in the freezing nights 
  • 2 x PANTS/BOXERS - Antibacterial lasting more than one wear
  • 1 x RNLI KNITWEAR - Wonderfully warm for evening wear in the non-heated accommodation
  • 3 x LAST LONG RIBBED SOCK - Thick enough to keep feet toasty and sturdy enough to last three weeks in walking boots



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