Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cwm Idwal Timelapse

In November 2013 I installed a timelapse camera high in Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia taking a photo every 2 hours for 6 weeks. As a climber I wanted to try and film the ice climbs forming but it didn't get cold enough. The results are still pretty though.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cragging at Tremadog

I teamed up with friend Huw this afternoon for some climbing in the sunshine at Tremadog. We had a beautiful afternoon, some tree climbing action, some fresh blackberries on the routes, the occasional tussle with a bramble and also climbed Princess (Vs 4c), Plumbline (VS 4c) and Javelin (HVS 5a). Lots of fun as usual!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jottnar Vanir Salopette - Medium Term Review

Jöttnar are a small UK company who produce high quality gear for use in the worst conditions the mountains can throw at us. The company was founded by Tommy Kelly and Steve Howarth, both accomplished mountaineers and former Royal Marines with the aim of providing a technical clothing range that would provide a modern day suit of armour against the raging brutality of weather in the mountains. 

In Norse myth Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, provided protection against the brutal mountain giants. Their range bears Mjölnir as their logo, designed to protect you against your most formidable opponents.

At the moment the range is small and elite and is due to be expanded this autumn, including some new colours to existing products which will be great - regular readers will know that I try and avoid black and red wherever possible! 

I have been using the Vanir Salopettes for much of this year. I found the product after a search for salopettes that were made from Polartec Neoshell, having been previously impressed with a jacket made of the same fabric and having become more and more disillusioned with Goretex. In a constant quest for breathability and low weight the latest incarnations of the Goretex Pro fabric have become less and less durable and they are still not as breathable in the field as Event or Neoshell so I wanted an alternative. 

The Fabric
Polartec Neoshell is lab tested to be more breathable than its competitors and my experience in the mountains backs this up. I also like the fact that it is a stretchy fabric and therefore feels much more comfortable to wear, more like a soft-shell than a hardshell. Its construction uses a porous membrane that is air-permeable. This means that vapour can move out through the membrane as soon as you start sweating.

This breathability hasn't sacrificed either durability or waterproofness in use. I have stayed dry every time I have worn the salopettes which is pretty impressive as they have been used in rain, wind, snow and n multi-day backpacking trips where it felt like it didn't stop raining the whole time we were out. They have also stood up to the daily abuse that life in the mountains throws at them, regardless of what I have worn underneath! 

The Fit
The cut is fairly athletic, I am a 32" waist and regular leg and I found the Small was too tight on me whilst the Medium fits perfectly. The staff at Jottnar are incredibly helpful and if you give them your measurements they will tell you the size thats right for you. The salopettes come beautifully packaged and feel like a quality product from the moment they arrive through the door. 

Much like the original Model T Ford you can have any colour as long as its black, they do have a natty green trim on them though which I like :-) 
They have 3/4 length zips, kevlar protected instep patches, internal gaiters, adjustable/detachable braces and a chest pocket that I have never found a use for. 

You get what you pay for. These are top quality salopettes that are built to last, to withstand the harshest conditions the mountains can throw at us and are comfortable into the bargain. Get more details and order your pair here:
If you book onto one of our courses this winter you will also qualify for a 10% discount off the whole Jottnar range. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bristly Ridge & The Gribin

Irene, Adib, Paul, Tate, Alistair and I headed up Bristly Ridge and down the Gribin today, ably assisted by Rob who is on my trainee instructor mentor scheme. This was day 4 of our mountain craft course and definitely delivered a wow factor for the guys and girls second ever day of scrambling. Once again it has stayed dry and we have enjoyed some lovely views, it felt much fresher though in the NW winds - winter is coming!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Winters coming.....

Scrambling on Tryfan

For day three of our mountain craft course the team and I headed up the North Ridge of Tryfan as an introduction to scrambling. We set off early and managed to avoid the rain that hit later in the day which was nice. We spent the day looking at movement skills and route finding with posing along the way at the main landmarks thrown in for good measure! We then headed to the LLMRT mountain rescue base to look at mountain rescue in the UK.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Y Garn & Foel Goch

It has been another stunning day here in Snowdonia and for the second day of our mountaincraft course we have been into Cwm Idwal, up the Devils Kitchen onto Y Garn, across to Foel Goch and then enjoyed some off the path navigation to return to Idwal Cottage with the guys and girls doing all of the navigation and looking at some emergency scenarios along the way.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mountaincraft Course

I have been on the Southern side of the Glyderau today on the first day of our mountain craft course here in Snowdonia. There were plenty of paragliders out enjoying the Easterly winds and high pressure system and together with the blue skies and balmy temperatures they lent a very Alpine feel to our day. We used our time looking at navigation skills and hillwalking essentials in preparation for the next week in the mountains, another lovely day in paradise.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Contour Only Navigation

I have been running our advanced navigation course today. This one day course utilises contour only mapping that I have had made of Snowdon and is a great way of getting people into interpreting contours. It was a lovely day on the mountain with low cloud swirling around us and warm sunshine catching us every now and then.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Security on Steep Ground - Crib Goch

I have been running a security on steep ground workshop today for ML Trainees. The focus of the day was managing people in steep ground without the use of the rope and having parked in the Llanberis Pass we headed up into Cwm Glas, up the North Ridge of Crib Goch and along the traverse to Bwlch Goch before descending back to the valley floor. Along the way we were able to look at risk assessing, group management, movement coaching, scree and general leadership skills as well as the odd bit of environmental knowledge thrown in for good measure. Another stunning day under hazy skies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Milestone Buttress

Mags and I headed to the Milestone Buttress today as Mags wanted to get on some steeper ground than yesterday, on the sharp end of the rope. We climbed the Milestone Scramble (3) and Continuation Route (3) with Mags leading the route the whole way in great style on another beautiful sunny day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thank You

Hi Rob

What a brilliant week!!

I think Rich said that it was a trip of "extremes" and there is no argument there....

Hot, 1,500m, climbs through forest, along cliff faces, scrambles, beautiful scenery, high level plateaus and scintillating summits. Amazing descents along zig-zag paths, surrounded by endless valleys and Dwarf Pine terraces.
The "Mountain huts" and hut living. Wholesome food, Dremel resistant Sausage, hearty breakfasts and no loitering in the toilet.

Cold, snow covered, freezing paths.

Soft beds, clean sheets and relaxing shower. Followed by Gourmet food and fine wine.

But, best of all was the company!!

Thanks for the company and the laughs. And, of course, Rob for your Skills, Judgement and Expertise.

See you all again soon.

Best regards

Barry- Scrambling in Slovenia, September 2014

Hi Rob
Many thanks for our trip to Slovenia and for making my first alpine sortie
so enjoyable. What a beautiful country!!

Thanks Richard and Tracey for the compilation of photo's and you Rob for yours which I

Thanks Barry for looking after me!

Thanks especially to you Rob for organising the trip and your guidance during it. I was really
made up to sample some via ferrata and the whole experience surpassed my expectations.

All the best

Bill - Scrambling in Slovenia, September 2014

Advanced Scrambling Learn to Lead

I have been out with repeat client Mags today on the second day of an advanced scrambling learn to lead course. Yesterday she was out with Sam who took her to Tryfan Bach and together they looked at the nuts and bolts of gear placements and belays. I had a client cancel from this course and so the usual approach of getting people leading with me alongside can't happen but we improvised today in Cwm Idwal. We started off on the Idwal Staircase with me leading and Mags building her own belays/selecting her own anchors until I was happy to hand over the reins on this lovely grade 2 scramble. We then headed up into Cwm Cneifion and shared leads on the Cneifion Arete, by far and away the best scramble in Snowdonia! It has been sublimely warm, this summer has been amazing!