Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Mountain Leader: My leader kit

This is the last of my "xray" diagrams for kit lists. This one is a typical(ish) ML leader pack. Containing a variety of items essential for leading groups in the mountains. This is by no means an exhaustive list and any ML or aspirant ML should pick their own kit based on their experience. My equipment listed below is everything I would take (although not everything is shown on the diagram)for a standard group day on the hill, any specialist items are not included, however these could include things like GPS, any books or guides for the area as required, I also list a sling in the equipment, if going for you ML assessment it is worth noting that some ML assessors do not allow the use of a sling and biner and some do. If you do have one, make sure you know how to use it correctly! Kit list:

Spare water
30m Confidence rope - Set up for easy use
240cm sling and HMS karabiner
Spare warm jacket
Food and emergency rations (in yellow stuff sack)
First aid kit
Group shelter
GPS handset
Walking poles
Thermos flask with warm drink

The above list is not exhaustive, but is generally what I carry when with groups, I add or take away items depending on time of year, group size/age/type, and the nature of the day.

I hope you have enjoyed the series of little diagrams in the last couple of posts, feel free to use these in any presentations etc, but please reference me or let me know if you do :)

Next post: FigFour Dry tooling....any good?

Expedition loadout

Really enjoyed messing around in photoshop and creating the winter loadout image below, so decided I would do one for expedition loadout and mountain leader day sack. My expedition equipment varies a huge amount depending on length of expedition, time of year etc. In the diagram I have not included items like penknive, gps, phone etc, as they are too fiddly to edit in photoshop! Kit shown:

Tent (or part there of)
Sleeping bag
Thermorest (right side)
Poles (left side)
Insulated jacket
Spare clothes (red stuff sack)
Food (yellowy stuff sack)
Spare water
Group shelter

Other kit can be added or taken out as needed. If wet weather expected then thermorest should be covered in a drybag to prevent it getting sodden! Additional kit like: scrambling rope, ice axe (and other winter gear) etc can be added also depending on the nature of the venture.

Bag in picture is my faithful Lowe Alpine Frontier 80+15L. Fantastic bag, present from my parents for my 20th birthday.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Winter Loadout 2010/2011

So last year I spent some time doing a cut away style diagram to detail my winter kit. I thought I would do the same kind of idea again this year. The diagram to the left shows a standard winter day pack. The only changes being that my crampons are not covered and the axes shown are actually strapped to the outside of my bag not the inside as it may seem. As you can see the packing is a little tight, but largely whats included is:

Roughly half a winter rack
1 x 60m half rope
2 x DMM Fly
A small group shelter
A water bottle
An insulated jacket
Spare gloves

Naturally that is quite a sparse kit and would only be useful as a daypack. Other things could be added or taken away depending the type of trip/length of trip. It also makes the assumption that I would be wearing certain kit like my hardshell jacket and trousers, gloves etc

Overall I usually pack my bag as shown, with items like helmet/harness and goggles towards the top. I might also add things like GPS, first aid kit (if partner wasn't carrying). My bag of choice is my Osprey Mutant 38, however in some instances this is often not big enough.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Clipper Leashes!

After the hardcore failure of my chokehold leashes at the weekend I vowed to sort out my leash system. This is my story....
Prior to hitting the first ice of the season at the weekend I had been looking into how best to "mod up" my axes for winter. Having struggled with my chokehold leashes previously, I decided I needed some form of clipper leash. I contacted DMM regarding a fitting kit for my DMM flys. The good thing about my axes is that I have a slightly older version of the DMM fly featuring hollow bolts on the shaft, these can be fitted up for a clipper leash. Simon from DMM very helpfully sent me 2 fitting kits for my axes to enable me to fit these leashes.

Having shopped around for the clipper leashes I found Joe Brown offering them for £35 each! http://www.joe-brown.com/outdoor-equipment/winter-mountaineering/climbing-tools/dmm-clipper-leash.html, V12 offering them for £40 a pair, and www.theoutdoorshop.com offering them at an incredible £32 a pair. I immediately put in an order with the outdoorshop.

Quick plug for www.theoutdoorshop.com - this is a brilliant site, great customer service, online BMC discount (if you mail them your membership number), and most of all cheapest prices on everything! incredible! Never had bad service from them yet! Worth a browse with christmas coming up!

The leashes arrived today (8/12), I fitted up the fitting kits (simple enough), and attached the leashes. Job done!

The leashes themselves are simple enough, I was very surprised to recieve 2 DMM phantom karabiners as the "clippers". At £8-9 each these were a nice bonus to have with the leashes (not that I will use them for climbing!). The leashes are very padded and comfortable, and have a small buckle for keeping the leashes in place on your wrist. I imagine when I use these I will simply attach them at the start of the day, and take them off at the end!

Overall for the time and cost investment, I think these will be an excellent addition to my axes! Stay tuned for my next trigger modifications!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Early season winter climbing

Reynolds text me last week asking if I fancied heading over to Wales for a spot of early season winter climbing. The idea appealed to me and over the course of the week we decided on a plan to bivi out in Devils kitchen in Cwm Idwal, and hit the ice early in the morning to avoid the queues. A great idea...until you consider the temperature will be below zero. That said we went ahead with our plan and headed into Idwal around 11pm on Friday night. We bivied out and heading for the ice in the morning. After some pleasant climbing we headed back down and back to the car. Based on crap weather reports we headed back saturday night. We both carried a large amount of kit with us, but which kit did well? And which didn't do well?

Champion kit:

Mountain Equipment Fitzroy:

A cracking jacket, I wore this all day climbing, during the walk in and in the morning in the bivi. It held up to everything Wales threw at us, snow, rain, wind, cold, not only that I didn't overheat in it (often a problem I get!)

DMM Fly:

A cracking all round axe, comfortable to use and ideal for UK winter climbing!


I love the Jetboil - simple as. Nothing better for making a brew and cooking up boil in the bag meals.

Vilified kit!

DMM Chokehold leashes:

Whilst I love the DMM fly, I HATE the standard chokehold leash, they are uncomfortable to use, hard to get off, and generally not user friendly. Fortunately the good folk at DMM sent me a free fitting kit for my DMM fly axes (I have the slightly older version that have follow bolts for clipper leashes). And I will now be buying some clipper leashes!

Leki walking poles

Titanium poles my ass! One of my poles snapped during the walk in to the first climb, not impressed in the slightest, I will be contacting Leki to try and get this fixed, details to follow!

All in all it was a cracking day! Good nick climbs, good company and ok weather!