Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Jewels to gather - Photo Exhibition

If you are in the Cardiff area between 7 November and 5 December be sure to check out the 'Jewels to gather' photo exhibition at the Saltmarshe Gallery.

Nick is a long-standing client of mine, and among other skills is also a fantastic photographer. The exhibition covers mountain ranges from Wales, through the Alps, to the Himalaya (not forgetting Lofoten obviously!).

Monday, 20 October 2014

Getting excited for winter

As always at this time of year some great ski films start showing up - here are a couple of my current favourites - the full 12 minute Afterglow film from Sweetgrass Productions, and 'The Wise Man' chapter from Sherpa Cinemas' 'Sculpted in Time':

AFTERGLOW - Full Film by Sweetgrass Productions from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

And, to keep my sideways-sliding friends happy, there is of course the original LED suit video from a few years back:

Glowing Man HD from Jacob Sutton on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Top 5 bits of kit for 14/15

This week the mist has been hanging over Bozel lake in the morning and the Grand Bec is sporting a dusting of snow up top which means only one thing - winter is on its way!

With this in mind here are my top 5 bits of kit for the coming winter:

1 Whitedot Skis Ranger Carbonlite

Super-light, wide enough for great float in all snow conditions, but stiff enough to maintain great grip when the going gets firm, these skis became my go-to weapon of choice last winter. Stable at speed yet surprisingly manoeuvrable at slow speeds and in tight spots, the torsional stiffness also made them very comfortable on the uphill, particularly skinning on refrozen spring snow when often a wider ski can feel like it is about to break out sideways on every step.

2 Dynafit Mercury boots

The touring boot market has really come on leaps and bounds since my first pair of touring boots (red Denalis... fortunately I missed out on the TR9s and other delights!) and Dynafit really hit the spot with the Mercury - beefy enough to drive big skis hard, but with great ankle freedom in walk mode and all at just 1.7Kg per foot. The 3rd buckle (the missing link on the TLT5) gives for great holding power, keeping the heel locked in the pocket, and the simplicity of the walk/ski lock mechanism is great, particularly on wild & windy changeovers when you want to minimise faffing!

3 Silva Expedition 4 compass

No batteries to run out when you most need them, a compass (and map) is your best friend if you do get caught out in poor visibility. Of course it helps if you know how to use it properly, but then, you did learn how to navigate using a map and compass before buying that GPS, didn't you? And no, a smartphone is no substitute for a dedicated navigation device...

4 Terra Nova bothy bag

Not the smallest item in my pack but now a regular feature after this incident 2 years ago... Looking after an injured skier in a Norwegian blizzard hammered home the benefits of having a proper, decent-sized shelter. If you need to cover a casualty lying down + one rescuer then a 4 person version is the minimum to get really good coverage without having to move them too much (they will thank you if they have a broken pelvis...).

5 Snow

OK so its not really a piece of 'kit', but here is hoping for some fantastic light fluffy (and relatively stable) snow for this coming winter!

On the subject of kit, I now have a pair of Tech 250 crampons in transit from the USA so will post up a review as soon as they arrive and I can get out to test them out...

***Edit on 16th October***

To add to the above list, all I want for Christmas is an LED lightsuit!:

AFTERGLOW - Lightsuit Segment from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Important - ABS Vario 2011/12 information

Not quite sure how old this is but have just been made aware of a call to check ABS Vario base units from 2011/12.
Apparently over time the velcro closure securing each inflatable bag can become so well fastened it prevents the bag from deploying properly. ABS have released a fix for this - more details on their website here:

Serial numbers starting 612 or 712 are concerned (serial number located next to deflation valve).

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Black September

It starts the same way every time - a text message, phone call or email - "I'm not sure but I think there is some bad news..."
And so it was yesterday, 3 more gone in the space of a day. Andreas and JP on Cerro San Lorenzo and Liz on Cerro Vespignani. Add in Basti Haag and Andrea Zambaldi on Shishapangma a few days ago and September 2014 will definitely go down as a bad month in the history of ski mountaineering.

Some little gems come out of these things though, like Steve Casimiro's article for Adventure Journal.

And Ptor Spricenieks' wise words: "celebrate their lives... ...send love to their families and friends... ...and then take a hard look at the details of the accident scenarios."