Anton Nelson, Director of Photography under AHTOH and this month’s Mizu Mission goer recently returned from an unforgettable expedition through the Himalayas. Anton along with a small creative team set out on an 11 day voyage from Kathmandu, Nepal to one of the most spectacular places on the planet, Everest Base Camp. The goal was to document one of Anton’s music clients, through photo and video on social media, during his ascent to Everest Base Camp, where he would go on to play the highest DJ set in history. Beyond even personal accomplishment, Anton explains that the music artist was motivated by a larger philanthropic purpose.
“The artist, Paul Oakenfold had a desire to both push his own limits, doing something he had no idea if he could do, while highlighting the devastation caused by the recent 2015 earthquake in Nepal.”
The demanding trek from Lukla - where the group began their hike - to Everest Base Camp, covers 130 km round trip and encompasses about 2,700 m in elevation gain. For even the most fit, this trip is nothing short of difficult. Factor in the added weight of photography gear and the journey becomes immensely more strenuous.
“I hadn't done anything quite like this and started training as soon as I was approached - knowing it was undoubtedly going to be challenging to carry professional camera systems and other equipment for eleven days, with each becoming harder and harder to breathe.”
But places like Mount Everest have a certain magical allure for adventurous souls and despite the inherent difficulties that the trip was bound to present, Anton was not going to say no to a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I’m very driven, I have a strong mandate for personal improvement in my skills as a cinematographer, director and artist. I am also a seeker. I'm searching for something through my work - although I'm not yet sure what that is.”
Anton’s drive and dedication to self development weren’t the only reasons that he decided to take on this journey. An interest in innovation and the unknown also shape his character.
“Curiosity, a desire to perfect my ability to tell stories in a visual medium, restlessness - I think these factors define myself and my attitude to the world around me.”
A trip to Everest demands these kinds of characteristics and even more, a willingness to push beyond one’s own believed physical limits. Looking back, Anton describes what motivated him when he encountered the harsh reality of the trek.
“This was an extreme physical challenge for me personally, I was carrying a substantial weight on the day to day hikes - across the gear you need to simply trek at altitude plus the camera equipment to capture the journey. I wanted to do the project justice, it was a creative, charitable accomplishment which bonded the group as friends for hopefully - many journeys to come.”
Along with Anton and Paul, their guide Kenton Cool, one of Britain’s top mountain climbers, as well as several Sherpas, and their old friend and fellow adventurer Mickey each helped them in their mission to reach the camp. They experienced one unforgettable adventure together, and one that has forever changed them. But Anton wasn’t always pursuing missions in the outdoors. Years prior to the expedition, he was far more immersed in a metropolitan setting.
“Spending so many years making films in dark rooms really had me hungry to play outside. I grew up outside of a major city with houses only on one side of the street and as I got older, became more entrenched in an urban lifestyle as a Business Development Manager at Apple - something had to give.”
That something was his work environment. Slowly, Anton found himself becoming more and more captivated by the outdoor setting, looking for opportunities outside of his normal routine.
“Even in the music industry I found myself exploring, always looking for new places at every given opportunity. As a creative it has to be the unpredictable nature of natural light, the way it warms up a skin tone, casts a shadow on a mountainside - seeing that, capturing that, is what drives me.”
Eventually, Anton’s new found passion for creating art in the outdoors lead him to the Everest Base Camp. Even as the avid hiker that he is, Anton found the Himalayas uniquely special and impressive.
“I have been all over the world and stepped on many mountains, but there is something about the size and gravity of the Himalayas - everywhere you look it’s breathtaking, all the time.”
After days of hiking, each day harder than the next as the air became thinner and the weight on their backs continuing to pull them down towards the earth, the light at the end of the tunnel finally came.
“It had been a long, grueling day as we had skipped the last little town before the camp and pushed on ahead. The look on our crew’s faces - all the months of planning the expedition, the unpredictable nature of such a mixed crew of people who had never met, let alone hiked to the base of the tallest mountain in the world - it’s something I won't forget in a hurry.”
Mount Everest remains as immense in size as it is in beauty. For those brave and fortunate enough to reach it, simply the feeling of standing in its presence can be forever transformative. Driven by purpose and a strong will to push the limits, Anton and his crew were some of those lucky ones to experience its colossal beauty first hand. And despite the difficulty of the trek, Anton plans to return to the remarkable landscape again one day.
“Just being in the Himalayas is enough of a reason to visit the Khumbu Valley.”
An avid traveler himself, Anton enjoys exploring all around the globe and believes a sense of home can be found in many different places. We asked Anton what advice he would give others that are itching to travel but have yet to pull the trigger.
“I feel passionately you have to make the most of the time you have here - it’s shockingly easy, if you’re in Europe in particular, to travel and see an amazing lake, mountain, beach, whatever - the more you organise it yourself the cheaper it’s going to be.”
As he travels from city to city and mountain to mountain, Anton is conscious of the footprint he leaves behind.
“I grew up in a household with a focus on preserving the environment and treading gently on the earth so it’s certainly something I carry with me instinctively.”
Anton was always aware of the damaging effects of plastic, but even with this protective environmental intuition, he says that now more than ever he is inclined to reduce his single-use waste.
“The most recent stimulus for me around the reduction of single-use plastics has to be the impact it is having on our food - the realisation that fish caught in our open oceans are filled with micro-bead plastic from man made products was a horrific experience.”
And, the more he has traveled, the more he has seen the harsh realities that different places around the world face when it comes to plastic pollution.
“The more I work in Asia, particularly in developing nations like Nepal, the more I have a visceral reaction to the garbage on the streets - it’s easy in the west, to be complacent about the damage done by garbage and trash left out in the open - this is flipped on its head if you head to the east. This is not a simplistic issue and is undoubtedly driven by a number of socio-economic factors but is striking nonetheless.”
The opportunity to reuse is distinctly different around the world. For some, reusing is an accessible choice, and one that can greatly impact our natural lands in a positive way.
“It’s a privilege to explore the beautiful landscapes of our planet - not a right. We, as a society, must endeavour to appreciate our impact on the earth, lest we lose that privilege.”
Although the economic factor is one of the inherent challenges for people looking to reuse, Anton believes that, if you have the means, it’s a choice that you won’t regret.
“Ultimately you get what you pay for and if you care about the environment it’s a price worth paying.”
Mizu’s mission is to lead the reusable revolution by providing products that make it easier for people like Anton to choose reusable over single-use. One of Anton’s leading principles when it comes to reusable gear is picking products that he is confident will last, especially during his outdoor adventures. While on his Himalayan expedition, Anton used the Mizu V10 bottle, the new insulated V series addition, designed with both copper lining and a vacuum sealed cap that provides up to 20% increased thermal retention.
“The sealing is a massive step up from the earlier generation and I was happy to have warm tea through the night on Basecamp at -15.”
Choosing reusable with the Mizu V10 surely paid off for Anton after his long journey to Everest Base Camp. But whether it’s in the office, on the mountain, or at home, Anton urges everyone to stand up and play their part in protecting the environment. For people interested and those already trying to reduce single-use plastics, he shared some inspiration.
“It’s a turbulent time for environmentalism, we are seeing an unprecedented reversal of some of the global policies designed to preserve our most beautiful areas of natural beauty. All I can say is stay strong, stick to your convictions and we can make all make a difference.”