Interview with Lachlan McVie

Adventure Photography and Hard-to-Get Places
By Caitie Caroleo, Marketing Manager April 17, 2019


“There are only two ways into or out of this space – through the backside of the curtain of the Falls, or up the rope we had rigged up.”

This week we’re lucky enough to have one of our Field Ambassadors, Lachlan McVie, takeover our social media accounts and flood you with awesome photography of some hard-to-get places. He is an Engineering Manager and adventure photographer from Toronto, Canada and has been putting our Apex headlamp to the test for many years. In addition to accessing hard-to-get-to places and capturing one-of-a-kind images, he’s a Dad. Lachlan gets a little help on his adventures from his friends, wife Natasha and their little guy, Jack.

Time for a little Q&A!

Big experiences:

PT: What would qualify as your worst and/or funniest memory spent in the outdoors?
LM: After a full day of paddling through heavy rain on the Spanish River in northern Ontario, we arrived at our site only to discover there’s only room for one tent. The rest of the potential spots are under 6 inches of water and we’re all cold and miserable, with no energy to push further downriver. There are 4 of us, and the largest tent we have is a 3-person. It’s still pouring rain, so we all cram inside and are forced to spend the entire night in there. I remember waking up around 2 in the morning to a wet sleeping bag, as water had seeped through the floor. I resorted to laying down waterproof playing cards underneath. It’s funny how sometimes the most trying times are often the most memorable.

PT: Do you have a stand-out personal victory you can share with us?
LM: For sure the pinnacle of achievement for my Urban Exploration photography was to explore & document the innards of several abandoned Hydroelectric Generating Stations in Niagara Falls. There are 3 different plants on the Canadian side – all unique and historically significant in their own way – but the tailrace tunnel of the Electrical Development Company is the crowning achievement of them all. Running underground from the base of the plant’s wheelpit to the backside of Niagara Falls, the tunnel served as the exhaust pipe for the plant, discharging water from the turbines back into the Niagara River. The only way into or out of this space is by rappelling into a narrow slit in the roof of the tunnel, nearly 150ft underground. Once inside you can actually stand underneath the falls, bathe in its waters and feel it’s thunderous roar throughout your entire soul. Finding a way inside was a dream of mine for a long time. Few have ever seen this space in the 115yrs since it was built, and we were the last to visit.

What gets you going:

PT: Leading up to a trip… how are you spending your time?
LM: For any serious venture I spend a lot of time reading trip reports, pouring over maps and doing as much research as possible. I think that being prepared and entering a situation with confidence is the best way to help ensure success.

PT: What about a soundtrack to your adventures?
LM: While I enjoy many genres of music, for the past few years I’ve really been into electro funk stuff from artists like GriZ, Gramatik, Marvel Years and Flume. I’ll listen to just about anything though, and enjoy hearing new and interesting artists from all over the world.

PT: Most influential book or movie?
LM: Too many to name, from so many different genres. I’ll keep it to wilderness themed stuff though, in which case I’d have to say The Singing Wilderness by Sigurd Olson, although it’s very hard to choose just one. I love reading about adventure and wilderness exploration in the far north – books like Coppermine Journey by Farley Mowat or Discovering Eden by Alex Hall have always made me yearn to explore the far reaches of the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. Places that I need to see before I die.

The unavoidable question from a personal lighting product company:

PT: Time when you really needed a light?
LM: 150ft underground in a tunnel beneath Niagara Falls that we rappelled into through the basement of an abandoned Hydroelectric Generating Station. There are only two ways into or out of this space – through the backside of the curtain of the Falls, or up the rope we had rigged up. In a place like this, having light makes the difference between life & death, which is why I rely on gear from Princeton Tec.

Let’s close on some deep questions:

PT: If you could choose any historical figure or person of note to take on your next venture out to do what do you, who would it be & a quick why?
LM: Another tough one. I’d love to travel with some of the great explorers of Canada – people like Samuel Hearne, Étienne Brûlé, Samuel De Champlain and Sir John Franklin, to name just a few. Men who lived lives of adventure in a harsh, unforgiving land which was really and truly unknown to them. They set off for years at a time into the bush & tundra, risking life & limb to reach places they weren’t sure even existed. They withstood unconscionable hardships and traveled great distances in deadly conditions with minimal gear. Many of them perished in these pursuits. I’d love to hear about the things they did, and learn more about how they did them, and to contrast that with the equipment and techniques we enjoy today. I’m sure they’d be impressed with the lights! (Note from Caitie: we didn’t ask him to say this.)

PT: Coffee or alcohol?
LM: Coffee. A strong Americano or Cappuccino, actually!

PT: Dogs or cats?
LM: Both.

Be sure to check out Lachlan’s takeover on our Instagram from 4/17-4/20 for a glimpse into his adventures! You can follow along with him at his personal account at @terapr0, too.