Credit: Nadir Khan
Issue 2 | 2016/17
Glenmore Lodge instructors are kept warm and dry thanks to The North Face
Ellis Brigham is the official retail partner of Glenmore Lodge
Adventure www.glenmorelodge.org.uk We are Scotlandâ€™s National Outdoor Training Centre. We run a wide range of skills courses and qualifications in 12 different mountain and paddle sports including scrambling, walking, navigation, climbing, skiing, mountain biking and sea kayaking.
There’s never been a better time to get outside and enjoy the best that the mountains have to offer. It’s time to start thinking about getting outdoors, and in this edition of Mountain Adventure Guide we’re bringing you a selection of features that look at all sorts of ways to enjoy filling your lungs with fresh mountain air all year round.
on the best ways to make your first climbs outdoors, and for winter time Glenmore Lodge have some excellent ideas on making that transition from on-piste skier to off-piste expert, safely and sensibly, with an introduction to ski touring.
We’ve got experts from the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre at Glenmore Lodge, located near Aviemore in the spectacular beauty of the Highlands, providing their top tips on how to make the most of each excursion and be safe on the hills.
We also have features on professional athletes from global outdoor brand The North Face®, a Glenmore Lodge partner, providing an inspirational insight into what they get up to on their expeditions, at a fitness level most of us can only dream of, and how they plan for future goals.
Glenmore Lodge’s experts provide advice on how best to “travel light” when you’re heading out on a hike by packing the right gear in the right way and not taking more than you really need. Another feature advises on the best way to enjoy a “wild weekend” camping off the beaten track with a list of essentials you need to take to ensure your trip is safe and successful wherever you go. Plus some recommended routes in the Highlands if you’re lucky enough to find yourself up north.
You will find interviews with The North Face® athletes Caroline Ciavaldini, the former World Youth Climbing Champion, and her husband, accomplished and wellknown British climber James Pearson, as well as the Brazilian ultra-distance runner Fernanda Maciel. All are inspirational figures in what they have achieved, and hopefully, just reading about them, their enthusiasm and sense of adventure will rub off on the rest of us!
If you’ve been climbing on an indoor wall in a sports centre, there’s an advice piece
independent family-owned action-sports retailer, Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports. All three companies have worked together for several years with Glenmore Lodge’s experienced outdoor instructors testing new clothing and equipment from The North Face® and Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports to give them feedback on performance, allowing fine-tuning and development of products. Glenmore Lodge staff are equipped with the latest technical clothing and equipment, giving Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports and The North Face® confidence their gear has been thoroughly tested all year round, sometimes in extreme and harsh environments, so their customers can be assured the products will perform reliably and have the Glenmore Lodge instructors’ approval. So let’s get out there!
We also have examples of the latest and best mountain adventure gear and equipment from the UK’s leading 03
Fernanda Maciel, The North FaceÂŽ athlete, answers our questions on her record-breaking ascent of Aconcagua earlier this year.
aconcagua ascent record 04
Aconcagua stands at 6,691m high and is the highest peak in the Americas. Fernanda became the first woman to make the ascent, and descent, this February by running from the entrance of Aconcagua Provincial Park to the mountain summit – a distance of 45km – and then back again in under 24 hours. Battling snow, ice, steep gradients and severe altitude, she managed to complete the feat in the incredible time of only 22 hours and 52 minutes. A mountain run like this, with extreme conditions and terrain, must require specialist training. What did you do differently to prepare compared to a “normal” ultra-mountain running event? I did a lot of training going up and down carrying 10kg weight to gain strength in my ankles, back and quadriceps. It was also important to improve my proprioception to get a better balance to run at high altitude and in exposed places. I also climbed long flights of stairs carrying 2kg weight: seven series of two minutes climbing stairs. I also used the ropes to get strong arms, carrying weight on my back, abs and quads. What did the effects of altitude have on your body throughout the Aconcagua ascent? I got altitude sickness very easily, because it’s just 43% oxygen close to the summit. It was cold. I felt that I was falling asleep. I was coughing and got a headache; it was difficult to control the pressure in my brain and lungs. I lost energy due to the temperature, which was –25°C, and my pace was slower the nearer I got to the summit. Did you have support on the run, and was it helpful to share the experience
and have company? I had the chance to get water and more gear at Plaza de Mulas (base camp at 4,300m). Cabeza (Alejandro Pereira), a very strong porter from Argentina, followed me during my ascent from Plaza de Mulas to the summit and back to base camp. He’s a very positive person and fast climber, and his company was great. The 50km run from the park entrance to Plaza de Mulas and back I did alone. The most important thing was I knew Cabeza was close to me. If I felt really bad or if I got lost close to the summit, he was there. What was the hardest part of the record-breaking Aconcagua attempt: the physical or the mental? After training in big snowstorms my mental part was good. Both physical and mental were in equilibrium, but the physical part during my project was the hardest. It’s crazy how my body reacted at 5,000m to 6,000m (20,000ft). I couldn’t balance; I was falling asleep and walking at such a slow pace. It was very cold. The coldest time on Aconcagua is 6am, and I didn’t have energy in my body to push hard for the ascent. When the sun came up though I felt better, and I could reach the summit at a faster pace. Do you have favourite foods for running ultra-distances, and could you use these same foods for Aconcagua? Usually I have gels, bars and sushi during my ultra trail races. The Aconcagua project was completely different – just hot teas, some peanuts and sweets – because without oxygen in the air my stomach couldn’t work. What gear did you run in, and how did
it differ from that of a mountaineer who would typically do this route? ThermoBall™ jacket (ThermoBall™ technology is a synthetic alternative to down), waterproof jacket, long sleeves and long pants from The North Face ®. I use the MT snow shoes, also from The North Face ®, to be able to run on ice, snow and rocky terrain. I had the best gear ever to do this fast ascent. Who, or what, motivates you? What is it that keeps you going through the tough times in a race? I love to run. When I run, I feel free like an animal, without ego and beautiful inside with peace. I feel small on such high mountains and big when I touch the peak. Any advice for people just starting to run? How can they progress to ultradistances? They have to do exercises for quads and ankles to help avoid injuries and so they can enjoy going up and down with strong legs. Don’t do too much. Choose one or two days per week to do long-distance runs. The other days, do shorter runs but at a faster speed. During the long training runs and races, two important things: carbohydrate and mineral salt. Remember what motivates you to run, and don’t forget it. Running has a strong following in the UK: fell, trail and road, with ultradistances fast growing in popularity. Have you ever run in the UK or considered attempting any of their classic ultra-races? I’ve never been in the UK for a race. It would be awesome if I had this opportunity. I’ve seen so many beautiful landscapes in the UK, so I’m sure I’d love that.
accessories We all enjoy a hike in the hills, but often we head out ill-prepared.
Credit: Nadir Khan Ellis-Brigham.com
Garmin Oregon 600 £369.99 Packed with features, this powerful handheld GPS has a colour touchscreen that makes navigating the outdoors easier than ever.
Lifesystems® Mountain First Aid Kit £32.99
Lifesystems® Thermal Bag £4.50
SILVA Expedition 4 £29.99
A comprehensive kit containing 52 items and featuring Lifesystems®’ QuickFind system so you can locate key items fast when it matters most.
Provides full body coverage for protection against wind and rain. It also reflects and retains over 90% of radiated body heat.
Designed for experienced users and professionals, featuring multiple scales, a magnifier for detailed map reading and luminous markings to aid night use.
We asked the outdoors experts at Glenmore Lodge: what should someone consider when planning a trip to the hills, and what should they take? The first answer was, “That depends!” It depends on a whole list of things – what your personal objectives are, what route you are planning, the weather, your own fitness and ability, and the clothing and equipment you’ll be wearing and carrying. But what you shouldn’t head out into the hills without are your navigation tools – a map, compass, and watch – and these days a fully charged phone, ideally with mapping software and a GPS function. You should also pack a first aid kit and a survival bag. When packing everything in your rucksack, make sure you do so in such a way that spare clothing can be kept dry if it is a wet day by using a rucksack liner in the bag. Also, organise your packing so that what is most likely to be needed is at or near the top and easily accessible. Common mistakes to avoid include hanging items off the outside of a rucksack which can then blow away, fall off or get wet. Outer covers for rucksacks aren’t always
that useful either, as they too tend to be ineffective and often blow off. With your clothing on the day, think about dressing appropriately for the expected weather, but be prepared for unexpected weather. Pack a waterproof/windproof jacket and trousers, spare warm layers, a warm hat, gloves, sunglasses, sun cream, sun hat and, in the Scottish Highlands in particular, a midge net. Comfortable walking boots that have good soles and provide support to the ankles are essential. An ill-fitting pair of boots will cause discomfort and blisters and will take away from the enjoyment of the day. Also, get good socks too! Leather is the original tried-and-tested material for boots, but there are now lightweight and waterproof models available. Trekking poles can aid balance and stability and take some of the strain off the knees in descent. Even if not used, carrying a lightweight pair in the rucksack can be useful in some situations such as crossing a stream. While new technology can help mountain hikers who are happy to embrace it and don’t feel it detracts
from the away-from-it-all experience, one of the mistakes people commonly make is to go too far down the techie route and become overreliant on their smartphone (not a lot of use if there’s no signal, the battery runs flat or you drop it in a stream!). If you’re a highly experienced hill walker, you’ll most likely know all of the above anyway, but it pays not to get too set in your ways and to keep your eyes open for new products that can fine-tune and enhance your experience. Lightweight emergency kits such as bothy bags, group shelters and blizzard bags have appeared in the past few years and are lightweight and effective, while mapping technology on your smartphone keeps getting better and better. Have fun on the hills! Visit glenmorelodge.org.uk for navigation and hill skills courses.
For some people, running on tarmac holds no real interest; it has to be off-roading – known in the outdoor world as trail running.
The Voie Petit is said to be one of the hardest high-mountain alpine rock routes in the world. Caroline Ciavaldini, The North Face® athlete, is attempting to climb it by herself, in one day.
On the east face of the Grand Capucin, in the Mont Blanc area, this 3,838m route takes you up 450m of granite wall via a series of hard pitches, including F7c+ and F8a, with the crux bringing an F8b. The route was originally opened up over five days in 1997 by Arnaud Petit, helped by Pascal Baudin, Stéphanie Bodet and Jean-Paul Petit (Arnaud’s dad). Although Arnaud eventually climbed each individual move, he unfortunately wasn’t able to link them all together without resting. Honours for the first redpoint finally went to Alex Huber in 2005. He achieved the one-day redpoint, climbing the route in 14 pitches.
Caroline has known of the Voie Petit for some time but always dismissed it, as, coming from a sport climbing background, mountaineering was not her thing. What finally convinced you to attempt the Voie Petit? Two years ago, I took some time to ask myself which routes attracted me, made me dream. For a while, I allowed myself to simply go from crag to crag, following the lines that seemed beautiful. I didn’t focus, I was tired, I needed time. This is the first time I will use my goal-focused experience from competition on an outdoor project, and I have chosen the Voie Petit. Arnaud and Stéph have always been role models for me, so the route has been in a corner of my head for a long time.
Last year I went to check for myself. There was no way I would set myself a goal without actually knowing if the route was beautiful. It is a gem, so I am going for it! What new climbing/mountaineering skills will you have to learn? I grew up on a tropical island and I am a sport climber; I come from competition, which is an eight-minute effort on artificial rock. I have no mountaineering skills at all. For this kind of route you need to climb well on the rock, have very good endurance, handle altitude and have technical skills to protect yourself, but, most of all, a strong head. There is a long way to go, but I have been practising these things for the last six months and
have been learning trad climbing for a few years. Where have you been climbing to build on your trad skills? I met James Pearson five years ago (we are married now), and there is no doubt he is a trad master, so I have had a very good, and very patient, teacher. There isn’t a more technical or diverse place to train trad than in the UK, so I have been back this spring to Llanberis and the Peak District. Trad is a complicated art. You need patience and time to learn. I wouldn’t say that I know everything, but I think I will have the skill now to protect myself on the Grand Capucin. What are you looking forward to, and dreading, most throughout your training and doing the route? I love the process of learning new skills. Granite is a rock that I have barely touched before and is very different from what I am used to. Therefore, I have spent a month slab climbing in La Pedriza, a granite area in Spain. Arriving on the first day and realising you are so far away from the necessary level is frightening, disheartening, but you trust time, learn patiently, and everything comes together. It is mentally hard, but it is possible. I will start working on the route soon and am really looking forward to being back on those amazing pitches, searching patiently for methods. There will certainly be moments when I question my decision,
when I think I can’t succeed. I will have to get over these doubts, and in a funny way, this is actually what I am looking forward to. Have you had to do any specific strength training? I have definitely trained to increase my climbing level, both in strength and endurance, by spending a fair amount of time in my climbing gym at home. Circuits of movements, rings, pull-ups, suspensions for your fingers, you do your circuit, and when you are about to fall, there is this little voice telling you “one more movement” for your goal. That is what I wanted to feel again: the drive a goal gives you. You have taken up running to help with endurance fitness. Has this come naturally to you? Might you have a career change to ultra-distance running after the climb? That makes me laugh. I have started running, but I hate it. I have always hated running. That continuous level of pain just doesn’t fit me. But I have my secret: audiobooks. That keeps me going, definitely not for a half-marathon, but never say never! What will be the hardest obstacle to overcome during training, or on the route itself? Well, this is mountaineering. The weather conditions are often not good and the crux
pitch can be wet, so I need to be capable of climbing in all conditions. What will keep you going through any tough points? One thing that helps me, weirdly, is that I accept that I might fail. When I was competing, I didn’t allow myself to fail. I fought as if my life depended on it, because I thought it would make me try harder. The downside is that it made failures really dramatic, horrible. I have realised over the years that taking things too seriously was adding stress. This time I will allow myself to come back home empty-handed, as long as I have tried my hardest. Is this one of the most exciting and challenging projects you have committed to? It is definitely the project where I have had the most fun before even stepping onto the route. I have loved all the preparation and I plan on enjoying it all. What advice can you give young climbers wanting to turn professional? I would say to a young climber: choose what you want to climb for; choose your direction. Don’t let people tell you what you should climb. Remain open to the people you meet, and their stories, because, somehow, they will maybe curve your trajectory!
an ultra Take mid-life Your crisis
Running Feet Off-Road Store Manager Martin Bell tells us how he got into ultra-running.
As his 40th birthday approached, Martin Bell decided to choose the less expensive of the stereotypical mid-life crises. No fast car for him, instead he decided to enter a 10km running race he’d seen advertised in his local town. With minimal training he surprised himself, not just by doing OK, but by actually enjoying it. So began a journey leading from casual runner to ultra-runner. Defined as the sport of long-distance running, ultra-running describes any run of more than the 26.2 miles of a marathon. In ultrarunning, 80% of competitors are male and over 45 years of age. Seven years on from that first 10km, Martin finds himself getting up at 5am every day to fit in a one-and-a-halfhour run before his family awake and before work. “It’s a time-intensive hobby,” he admits, “so it only feels fair that I try to lessen the impact on family life. Luckily my job involves different shifts, so I can fit longer runs in around that too.” Work for the past 25 years has been at the Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports store in Aviemore. “When I first started, we didn’t sell much in the way of running gear; it was more about trekking and climbing. Luckily for me, that’s evolved over the years, and now I get great pleasure from meeting customers at running events and then advising them on great gear when they come into the store.” Each year, Martin’s race calendar includes one major event, two “training” events and a whole host
of Munro-bagging sessions to keep fitness levels up. Ask about his best-ever experience, and there’s no hesitation. “The CCC, Courmayeur Champex Chamonix, has definitely been the highlight so far. The 100km race takes in three countries – Italy, Switzerland and France – and runs concurrently with the Ultra-Trail du MontBlanc. So we arrive back shortly before the fastest UTMB competitors come in. There’s over 6,000m of ascent, which is where that Munro bagging comes in handy.” On the calendar for 2016 is the Glenmore 24 Trail Race, in the Cairngorms National Park on 3/4 September.
So how does he fuel himself for such regular exertion? “A healthy diet is key for my fitness and well-being. Quinoa, bulgar wheat, salad, natural yogurt and shedloads of fruit all feature. You can afford to spoil yourself because you burn off so many calories, but to be honest, I’m so used to eating healthily that I’m not even tempted by things like pizza or curry. I treat myself after a big race with extralarge portions of my favourites.” Since this was written, Martin has suffered an injury requiring a few months’ rehabilitation. His wife is thrilled.
Suunto Ambit3 Vertical £319.99
Black Diamond Z Poles £139.99
The North Face® Ultra Endurance £109.99
Inov-8 Race Ultra £119.99
Pushing your limits on the trail, on your bike or in the water, the Ambit3 Vertical (HR) GPS watch will motivate and guide you so that you can perform at your best.
With an ultralight carbon fibre construction and a FlickLock® Pro system, this pole is perfect for long-distance trekking.
With a superb fit and unparalleled traction they’ll keep you training for longer, whatever the terrain.
A pack with impressive versatility; use on training runs, commutes to work and long-distance endurance events alike.
Your first climbs outdoors can feel very different to an indoor wall. A good stepping stone is to go “sport climbing” on bolted routes. The rope work and gear used being the same, gaining experience on these routes will help you move towards “traditional” rock climbs. In addition, for someone new to an outdoor climbing environment, putting the odds in your favour will help. Go when the weather is good, and climb with more experienced climbers or as part of a climbing club. You should also pick user-friendly venues with single-pitch easy access for those first outdoor climbs. The best venues for that first outdoor climb will also depend on the grade you climb indoors and your ability and knowledge regarding using naturally placed protection on “traditional” routes. The best information
is often in the climbing guide books, which help to determine the grade of the routes and ease of protection use. Make sure you’re fully informed on access rights before you start the climb too. Some climbing sites in the UK can have restrictions, such as private land ownership or nesting bird periods. The best sources of information here are our national bodies, the British Mountaineering Council and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, which both have good information on where and when we can climb. Getting the gear can be the expensive bit when moving outdoors. The best advice is to climb with someone who has the gear to start with. Your indoor gear will of course still work outdoors – your harness, rock shoes and so on can be the same – but when climbing “traditional” routes
you will need to invest in some protection equipment. A basic rack would be a range of wires, some camming units, some longer extenders and some slings. Shops often do deals on a “starter rack”, so do some research. Finally, remember there are loads of extra safety issues when climbing outdoors, such as weather conditions, loose rocks on or above routes, other climbers and getting to or getting off of a route – and that’s just for starters. Being under the guidance of an experienced current climber will help, and instructional courses also help here, as qualified instruction will help you with your first routes in the outdoor environment. Visit glenmorelodge.org.uk for rock climbing skills courses.
Phil Sanderson gives his tips on how to make the transition from indoor to outdoor climbing.
Don’t worry; the only ropes you will hear about here are at least 50m long and the only whips are the long falls we take off gear, but it is definitely about masochism! It is about choosing to go to the Cederberg, the region of the famous Rocklands, showing off with its huge orange boulders, and not even bringing a crash pad. James and I are not the kind of purist climbers that boulder without mats. We did, for a few days, borrow pads and enjoy the safety, comfort and easiness of bouldering, but after two days, adventure was calling – by adventure I mean trad – so we headed to Rocklands in search of rock and climbing. James is an adventurer: if he finds a cave, a hole, a little path, he has to go and explore it, simply because he is curious. But with curiosity comes fear. Fear can be a good thing: it protects you from going too close to a cliff edge. Maybe it is a bad thing that James isn’t scared, time will tell, but in the meantime, with his hand in mine, I am not scared anymore; I can become an adventurer too, because I have my security cushion. Him. We left the usual path – in Jeeps stuffed with both dynamic and static ropes, trad gear, metal brushes, tents and barbecue kit – aiming for those faraway walls. But how do you choose between a million possibilities? You have to be smart; you have to plan ahead, and leave little to chance. We watched through the binoculars, searching for colours or shapes that promised a continuous overhang. We looked for breaks that seemed regular but not too brutal, and last but not least an access that seemed possible. James would sometimes fly his drone (did I mention he was a geek) to get a bird’s-eye view, flying as close to the cliff as he dared, looking for the perfect line. It’s easy in theory, but more often than not we ended up bashing through bushes for hours on end or scrambling up loose block pyramids! One day we walked down a river canyon and crossed the water to arrive at a beautiful orange wall. It was perfect: a few vertical cracks to start off, a gorgeous featured prow to finish and a huge blank roof right in the middle, with nothing a human could call a hold! On and on, scouting, selecting. We chose to scout first,
James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini, The North Face® athletes, discuss new routes in South Africa.
then picked the lines that pleased us the most. The difference between easy and impossible is nothing, and at the same time it is everything. After 15 days of hiking, we finally put our harnesses on.
Valley, we had opened just four routes! There are hundreds more to do and time will surely see them happen, but time was something we had little of, and the time had come to move on to the next place.
I think both James and I would agree that the biggest “find” of our trip was the climbing in the Biedouw Valley. We had stumbled on the place quite by accident while searching for a camping spot one night. The track wound its way down the hillside into a hidden valley, revealing not only a perfect picturesque holiday park but also huge boulders in every direction as far as the eye could see.
Wolfberg had been on James’s list from the start. It’s one of the main existing trad areas in South Africa, with lots of classic multi-pitch up to 150m long, but he had also heard there was potential for new things. Sitting at over 1,600m altitude above the Dwarsrivier winery, Wolfberg can be rather chilly in comparison to the other low-lying crags of the Cederberg. Not to worry, Wolfberg is a giant south face, so we’ll be in the sun all day, right? That would be true back in France; however, down here in the southern hemisphere things are all back to front. Climbing at Wolfberg was freezing!
We focused our climbing on one main, very obvious, cliff band 40 minutes’ hike from the camp. When we first walked along the base of the cliff, we knew it was something special. When you first see a line from below, you get a vague idea of its difficulty, of the possible protections. I started working on what would become “The First Dance”; James threw himself into a series of abseil inspections that would last two days. He had several lines in his head, but none of them ended up working – no gear, or no holds. A trad route is a very fragile balance, a little wonder of nature that can only happen if all chances come together. On this occasion it was I who had the luck. I cleaned and worked “The First Dance” over two days. It was the first line I had spotted and was a perfect combination of safe and sustained, of face and crack. Like almost all the trad routes I have done, the lead was much harder than I expected. I sent “The First Dance” on my second attempt, after a good endurance fight, and think I have rarely been that happy climbing a route. After a full week of climbing in the Biedouw
James got to work on what would become “Bonanno Pisano”, the name of the architect of the Pisa tower, and to understand the name you only had to look at the rock. A leaning tower of compact grey quartzite, 50m high and almost totally detached from the nearby cliff. Looking up from underneath it seemed ready to fall on you; it was so steep you had to put your back to the wall to see the top! Meanwhile, I couldn’t take my eyes off an orange wall buried further back in the canyon. Little crimps appeared just where the breaks ran out, and the route was there. A bit of chalk, the right friends and nut placements, and “The Colours of Orange” came to life. I belayed James for a whole day for his first lead attempt on “Bonanno Pisano”. He had been working on the route for three days prior to this. By the time he had
made his successful attempt, redone a few sections for the photographers and finally cleaned the gear, it was sunset and time to go down. Trad is slow, so very slow. What a faff for just one route, but what a route, what an experience! The day after was mine, and I could explore a line on the very top of the Wolfberg plateau – a short, steep crack splitting a giant beautiful boulder. I tried to ground up it, but my efforts were stopped when eight hairy legs scuttled out of a crack. Spiders are part of everyday life in South Africa, but I’m not used to seeing ones as big as my hand! Finally I climbed “Fantafrica”: a hard boulder and an amazing knee-bar led to a pumpy, tenuous finger-crack to the top. We had come to South Africa to search for hard, beautiful new trad routes and that is exactly what we found. “The First Dance” and “Bonanno Pisano” are two of the most stunning trad routes we have ever done. However, James had come here hoping for the next level, a route that could combine the difficulty of top-level sport routes with the involvement and engagement of trad. We hiked and searched for weeks and weeks, and although some things came close, nothing was just right. Then, on the last few days of the trip, he found it! A line so futuristic that he almost didn’t even bother to check it out. A huge blank quartzite roof, with the most incredible line of one and two finger pockets, which leads to a featureless 45° prow, with two perfect jugs, just dynoable distance apart. It’s even further to walk to, an epic to try and probably too hard for him to do. Yet despite the pain, despite the suffering, if and when he does it, it’s all going to be worth it!
the lighter the better
Whatever you’re doing in the great outdoors, it’s more than likely you’ll have to ca
So, using the theory that it’s always a case of “the lighter the better” for equipment carried, we asked one of Glenmore’s resident global adventurers, Phil Sanderson, a man who has climbed ice walls, conquered mighty rivers and even scaled Everest, for his top tips. Q> How do you decide what’s essential and what’s not? PS> Good information on where you are going and what the weather is going to be like will help. This will help you work out what is essential. Waterproof or not? Take a tent or a bivi bag? Q> Is there a point at which you can be carrying too much food and drink so you burn off more energy carrying it than it provides when you consume it?! PS> For me it’s about the type of food and the amount of drink to manage the weight. Any food with liquid will weigh more, so high-energy dehydrated works well here. As for drink, depending on the weather and where I am, I try to refill rather than carry lots of drink. Every litre of water is a kilogram in your bag; this can add up to a heavy rucksack.
Credit: Nadir Khan 16
Q> Is there a way for an individual to work out what their optimum weight to carry is? PS> Historically, a “rule of thumb” would be a third of your body weight. This could be a heavy bag. My overnight camping rucksack is well below this figure. A maximum weight of around 18 to 20kg is a good target to aim for.
Q> Any personal favourite lightweight products you’d recommend? PS> Be selective with the basics. For example, an empty rucksack can weigh anything from a few hundred grams to a couple of kilograms. Favourites of mine are: The North Face Verto 32l rucksack at 600g, The North Face ThermoBall™ jacket at 400g and the Jetboil Sol titanium stove at 400g. Q> Many products claim to be lightweight, but presumably some are lighter and better than others. Is there an easy way to tell what’s really light and what’s not as good as it sounds (other than carrying around some scales when you’re shopping)? PS> Often the cost can be a good indicator. If products are going to do the same job well and be lighter at the same time, there will be a cost to this. High-performing materials that are lightweight are not cheap. For example, tents made of the lightest materials that perform well are often twice the cost. There are deals out there, so do your research. Q> Are there any weight savings that aren’t worth it? PS> With lightweight products you need to do your homework. The last thing you need is a product failing when on your trip. Food products can often have little energy value for the weight carried. So again, check this out before your trip to make sure what goes in your bag is worth the extra weight.
The North Face® Gold Kazoo Regular £204.99 Featuring premium 650 fill ProDown™, the Gold Kazoo delivers warmth without a weight penalty perfect for two-season use. Optimised for comfort, it has a shaped hood, draught collar and vaulted foot box. The North Face® ThermoBall™ jacket £159.99 The ThermoBall™ jacket is a revolution in insulation technology. Small, round PrimaLoft® synthetic fibre clusters mimic down to trap heat in air pockets and retain warmth.
The U pro comf d
arry everything you need with you.
North Face® Ultra Fastpack II GTX £129.99
Ultra Fastpack II offers lightweight support, otection and performance. Low-weight and fortable underfoot, they’re well suited to the day hiker wanting to keep the pace high. Rab® Survival Zone £89.99 The perfect emergency bivi, the Survival Zone is constructed from waterproof Hyperlite Storm fabric. It offers great weather protection for you and your sleeping bag.
The North Face® Kuhtai 24 £69.99 The Kuhtai is a lightweight pack that gives quick and easy access to the contents inside. With a 24-litre capacity and highly ventilated back panel, it’s perfect for summer hikes.
WEEKENDS Wild weekends are a great experience getting away into the magnificent outdoors and away from civilisation. But with “wild” in the title, there are potential dangers too, so it’s important to plan your route carefully and to be realistic about objectives, keeping in mind your abilities and fitness levels. When planning your route (and plan before you go you must!), look for alternatives and “escape” routes if you need to end the trip earlier than expected for any reason – perhaps illness, injury or an unexpected change in the weather. It’s important to leave behind details of where you are going and when you intend to be back – a route on a map with an indication of time back. Remember to bring along essentials like a map, head torch, compass and watch (I take a spare map and compass if I’m on my own). You also need a tried-and-tested tent with appropriate bedding – sleeping mat and sleeping bag and a stove with fuel which has again been tested before setting out. You’ll want a mug and spoon and possibly a pot for heating water depending on the type of stove, and a water bladder for collecting water so as to have a ready supply close at hand – plus tasty food and enough of it, of course. But leave behind that inflatable pillow, as rolled-up clothing works well, and
unnecessary cooking equipment which is just dead weight. There’s a debate as to whether taking your smartphone means your weekend won’t be “wild”, but having a smartphone doesn’t take away from the wildness in my opinion, as I can choose for it to be switched off, but it can be there to be used in an emergency. It also saves me carrying a book to read as I can have this on my phone! Remember, you may not get mobile reception depending on where you are. When planning where to go on a wild weekend, you should think about where you would like to go and think of a few choices in different locations. Then when you’re about to set off, the weather will narrow these down for you perhaps to east or west, north or south, as will the time you have too. Here are three of my favourite wild weekends: Lairig Ghru This two-day bothy trip leads up from Rothiemurchus to overnight Corrour Bothy, then up The Devil’s Point and over Cairn Toul, The Angel’s Peak and Braeriach. It encompasses a mix of terrain, the balance of walking up the Lairig Ghru between the hills and below the scenic corries of Braeriach and Cairn Toul and then walking back over the plateau with great views after
a night in the bothy. Schiehallion For something less challenging, Schiehallion near Aberfeldy offers ease of access and beautiful views across Loch Rannoch, a short day out that can be walked up and down the same route, or a traverse of the hill can be made for a longer day. Three-Day Hike From Braemar One of my all-time favourites is a three-day camping trip from Braemar, hiking first up Gleann an t-Slugain to camp beside the Dubh Lochain below Beinn a’ Bhùird then, next day, up alongside the stream Glas Allt Mór to Ben Avon – Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe and down to camp in Gleann an t-Slugain on the way back. This was my first solo camping trip, and it took me into beautiful and remote landscape that was new to me. I remember the eeriness of getting out of my tent in the morning to find the corrie shrouded in thick mist but ultimately to be in gorgeous sunshine scrambling about on the summit tors of Ben Avon later on in the same day! Visit glenmorelodge.org.uk for navigation and hill skills courses.
If you want to really get away from it all and into the true wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, Fiona Chappell of Glenmore Lodge recommends how to enjoy a wild weekend in the Cairngorms and suggests three of her favourite itineraries.
The North Face® Talus 3 EU £229.99 Light, simple design and includes handy features that will work for car-camping and backpacking alike. It has two doors for access both sides, high–low ventilation and a mesh inner for warm-weather camping comfort.
The North Face® Blue Kazoo Regular £249.99 A brilliant sleeping bag for backpacking trips. Water-resistant 650 fill ProDown™ offers warmth, low weight and a small pack size. A comfortable, reliable performer, it’s ideal for three-season use.
Jetboil MiniMo £139.99 Makes eating outdoors easy!
The North Face® Verbera Hiker GTX £139.99
This fully featured lightweight waterproof boot for men and women offers support and protection for multi-day backpacking trips and full days in the hills.
The North Face® Banchee 50 £139.99 A lightweight yet fully featured pack that will allow you to move faster, more comfortably over any terrain.
An introduction to ski touring with Alex Parmenter, Senior Instructor, Glenmore Lodge. Credit: Ian Sherrington
Ski touring has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. The appeal of the untracked and unpopulated wilderness has resulted in skiers and snowboarders spending as much time pushing up hill as going down it. Alex Parmenter, Senior Instructor, Glenmore Lodge, runs through what you need to get started …
What’s so good about ski touring? Why not just stay on the piste and use a lift? Ski touring is the ultimate in winter travel. It’s not just about how much fun it is, or the feelings of exhilaration you get from skiing off the summit of a mountain; it’s also the most efficient and fastest way to get about. Skiing as a method of travel has been around for a long time (the oldest complete set of skis discovered are over 5,000 years old!). Our ancestors weren’t in it for the vin chaud, but because of the genuine benefit to mountain users. Another massive benefit to getting away from the lifts is the freedom to access the best, unskied snow. No longer are you tied to the lifts and potentially one or two aspects of the hill. Instead you can consider the weather and avalanche forecasts to predict where the best snow for skiing is lying, often not on any mountain with a ski resort. Not only do you get to ski the best snow that day, but you and your friends could be the only skiers there! How good a skier do you need to be to try ski touring?
During your ski tour you are likely to encounter many types of snow at different stages in your journey. So having a solid base of piste performance will provide a foundation from which to adapt your skiing to suit the different snow types. Typically a skier who is confident descending red runs in most conditions will be able to achieve this. It is possible for less experienced skiers to have a go too; they may just need to choose less committing journeys in benign conditions to give them the best experience. Is the equipment you use different to regular downhill ski gear – if so, how? Yes. The biggest difference is in the binding, which allows the heel to be either fixed to the
ski for descents or free to move and allow a walking motion in ascent. For ascent, skins are stuck to the base of the ski to give grip while still allowing the ski to slide forward. There are also differences in ski and boot design which optimise performance in the varying snow conditions encountered off-piste. More information on ski-touring equipment can be found on the blog at glenmorelodge.org.uk. We use Black Crows skis, Scarpa boots and Marker bindings here at Glenmore Lodge, which give us a dependable setup ready for all conditions. How fit do you need to be to try ski touring?
You do have to ‘earn your turns’ ski touring, so a reasonable level of hill fitness is desirable. Once you find your rhythm skinning, then your work effort is pretty steady. The large surface area of your skis creates a solid platform to step off, and you don’t sink in a couple of centimetres one step and half a metre the next, as you do on foot. As when you try anything new, start by planning small objectives, allowing your body to ease into the sport, before building towards more challenging adventures. Riding a bike is a really simple way of doing some summer training for skiing, as it works similar muscle groups you will find yourself using in the winter. There are people killed each winter skiing off-piste or by being caught in avalanches – how do you stay safe? Choosing safe places to ski tour is of prime importance. Using the ‘Be Avalanche Aware’ guidelines is a useful start. It focuses on making a considered plan, assessing the plan on the journey and making decisions at key places on the journey. It is also important to carry suitable avalanche rescue equipment, such as a transceiver, shovel and probe. Not only that, but also be practised at using them so an efficient rescue can be carried out. Joining one of our ski-touring courses is a great way to get started in the sport, knowing your learning is being steered by professional skiers with years of experience in the business. Head to glenmorelodge.org.uk for more details.
favourite climbing spots revealed Every climber has their favourite spots. Whether it’s the place you first took your climbing outdoors, your nearest crags that you know like the back of your hand, or the grippiest rock you ever did hold, every climber has their own criteria for making a haunt their favourite. Ellis Brigham-sponsored athletes Calum Muskett and Hazel Findlay have their tried-and-tested favourite spots around the UK and are happy to share them, along with what makes them special, and of course where the best local pubs are ...
Calum Muskett and Hazel Findlay share their favourite climbing spots around the UK.
Favourite routes here include The Quarryman E7 6c, 6b, 6c, 6c, The Rainbow of Recalcitrance E6 6b, 6a or Comes the Dervish E3 6a. For a pizza and a pint after climbing, head to the Gallt y Glyn!
Outside of Wales (and there are plenty of good spots in Wales to satisfy the most active climber on the Llyn Peninsula, Pembroke and Holyhead, so you probably never need to leave!), the Old Man of Hoy is a firm favourite. It’s another tough climb so only really suitable for intermediate and advanced climbers, and in some places you have to watch out for the sandstone, which is soft and of poor quality. But the “Old Man” is away from it all. Hoy is a very quiet and peaceful island at the mercy of the elements, with the Atlantic beating in to the picturesque Rackwick Bay. The climbing is adventurous and there are miles of unclimbed sea cliffs. Favourite routes here include the Old Man
Credit: Dave Rudkin
Calum: For intermediate to advanced climbers, the Dinorwig Slate Quarries is one of my favourites. The post-industrial landscape of the slate quarries can appear to be harsh on the eye at first glance, but the old quarry workings have a charm and beauty of their own when you wander through the different levels and abandoned quarrymen’s huts. Slate is a low-friction rock which is covered in small square-edged holds, so the climbing requires precision and deft technique to teeter up the thin slabs of rock, as well as a cool head to keep calm when you feel out of balance. You’ll need tight-fitting rock shoes with good, stiff edges. i of Hoy Original Route E1 5b, Dan Dare E7 6b and the Long Hope Route E9 6c. There are no pubs, so bring your own beer and tidy up afterwards! Hazel: For an absolutely magnificent setting and some stunning climbing, Pavey Ark, adjacent to the remarkable Langdale Pikes in the Lake District, is unbeatable. It’s a nearperfect bit of sandstone suitable for all levels of climber. The best route is Sixpence, but the rock is also home to Jack’s Rake, a well-known grade-one scramble, if you decide not to climb or just prefer a scramble. The best place to stay is the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. If you head south, then one of the most mpressive cliffs in the UK can be found at Hartland, Devon. Dyer’s Lookout has so much
atmosphere and makes the climb feel very dramatic! This rock is home to the famous “Once Upon a Time in the Southwest” E9, one of the climbs that I cut my teeth on at an early age. But be warned: this rock is for advanced and experienced climbers, as the shale can make for a very weird climb! Finally, I couldn’t miss out the Roaches in Staffordshire. The Roaches are especially good if you like to mix up your climbing and bouldering on gritstone. Head there in the winter, when the colours on a sunny day are unmissable. I love the style of climbing that this rock requires – super technical! Art Nouveau, an E6/7b, is a great route to challenge yourself on. Afterwards, head to the Lazy Trout pub!
MAKE THE DAYS COUNT
25 shops nationwide www.ellis-brigham.com
KNOWLEDGE | SERVICE | ADVICE
VISIT AN EXPERT INSTORE | CONTACT AN EXPERT ONLINE | CHAT TO OUR EXPERTS ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK
Our latest edition of the Mountain Adventure Guide is free and full of informative articles to help you get outdoors and make the days count...
Published on Jul 12, 2016
Our latest edition of the Mountain Adventure Guide is free and full of informative articles to help you get outdoors and make the days count...