Saturday, 24 January 2015

Hardware for Norway

Hoping to get a video up soon and go into depth a bit about some of the kit choices, but here's a couple of photos for now. Some of the kits tried and tested for me like my DMM Super Couloir harness and some its new for the trip like the Petzl Laser speed and speed light ice screws. Specialist Training have provided us with some new DMM Migrant 8.2mm half ropes for the trip to replace some old Mammut half ropes I was using. The ice is looking thin at the moment, temperatures are now consistently bellow freezing so hopefully it will thicken up by Feb but just in case I'm taking some rock gear, half set of DMM WallnutsDMM 4CUs and a couple of Camp pitons. Keep your eyes open for the video post soon and some tech tips on here or my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Climbing wall photoshoot

Some photos from a recent shoot at Seaford Climbing Wall here. A great little climbing wall in Seaford East Sussex it's open to the public on Monday evenings. Ages 7-15 6-7.30pm and 16+ 7.30-9pm.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Clothing system for Norway

Here is my clothing system for an Ice Climbing trip to Rjukan in Norway. For those that don't know Rjukan is cold, with fairly little wind or rain. Routes range from single pitch roadside ice falls to huge 9+ pitch valley side icefalls.

Base layers, when its cold but I'm remaining fairly active I like to couple a heavier base layer bottom with a midweight top. I will be using Patagonia Capeline Pro 4 bottoms and a 3 top. I travel with two full sets and if I know I will be going on a long walk in I take both base layers or start the day off with a T-shirt. I swap this once ready to climb to remove any sweat build up.

I almost exclusively wear and trust Smartwool and Teko socks, both do a heavy weight mountain sock which does exactly what it says on the tin. I will have a fresh pair for every day, you simply cant put a price on toasty and fresh feet and yes I know how much socks are these days!

 Mid layers are always hard to get right, too warm, too cold. Ive been using a Patagonia R1 for years as my go to mid layer and will also be taking an R1 hoody on this trip, it gives me the extra option of pulling it up as a balaclava.

 Insulation is easy when you've tried a light weight Primaloft based smock such as the Patagonia Nanopuff. This will stay on after the walk in pretty much all day under my jacket. Its warm but not too warm, low volume and light.

 Over all that lot I will wear Patagonia Knifeblade jacket and pants. Softshell is the best for the type of conditions experienced in Rjukan. Being tall I always opt for a sallopete or brace style pant. I have used the Knifeblade set for about 12 months so far and its held up to travelling, alpine abuse and a few UK trips.

Hands and head, I like a thin skull cap type hat, I've been using a Rab one at the moment coupled with a Buff, this combo seems to hold out all but the worst weather and is super versatile. On my hands I have a pair of Black Diamond Enforcer gloves which I'm yet to use. Last trip I used a pair of Mountain Equipment Randonee gloves. Any waterproof glove with a leather palm and Primaloft will suffice, in my opinion BD are making the best gloves out there at the moment. Whilst climbing I will swap out for a pair of Petzl Cordex Plus gloves which need no introduction (see my previous review).

On top of all that for belays I like a nice snug down jacket or thicker Primaloft jacket, for multi pitch belays I will carry a Patagonia Nanopuff vest to throw on over everything. This is also my go to insulation for the UK.

Lastly I have swapped my old trusty La Sportiva Nepals for a new pair of Scarpa Phantom Guide boots. I will give these a write up on the trip.

 And that's about it, a few other odds and bits like trusty Dachstein mitts in the bottom of my bag. Theres a lot of kit out there, I just happen to be fortunate enough to be on the Patagonia Pro Scheme but I fully trust Black Diamond, Rab and Mountain Equipment kit. My Girlfriend is relatively new to this and is on a super budget, she plans on a guest blog post closer to our trip outlining some of the budget gear and tips she's using on this trip. I will be following this up in the next few days with a blog on equipment.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Petzl Cordex Plus glove review

I've been using the Petzl Cordex Plus glove since 2009, (the dirty pair in the photo), 6 years of mountaineering, rope access and general abuse. I'm convinced these are one of the best general purpose gloves out there and here's why...
Fit: the fit is great, the sizing is very true, I'm typically an XL in gloves but almost always have to put up with shorter fingers. The fingers are in proper proportion to the hand size which is a rarity. The stretch panels across the knuckles let you flex and work with your hands without getting tight backs or achy hands fighting the leather all the time whilst gripping a rope.

Materials: the gloves are described as a medium weight belay and rappel glove, made of goats skin leather with stretch nylon panels and a good neoprene style cuff with Velcro closure. I have thrown some abuse at these gloves, I wear them for ice climbing, mountaineering, belaying, rope access, confined space work and DIY to name a few. Its only in the last month that I have started to go through a couple of the finger tips. My only comment, and it may just be my hand size but the stretch panels are directly across my knuckles. I have no protection if I catch, scuff or strike my knuckles, however this is a small price to pay for such dexterity. The leather is padded on the palm and double layered in high stress areas.
Features: one of the best features of this glove is the carabiner hole, this is so useful, I almost permanently keep them on a small snap gate, even when not working in a harness, its just so convenient. The Velcro cuff is what really sets these apart from Chamonix bin men gloves and truck driver style work gloves. The cuff can be secured nice and snug and prevent any dirt, snow or ice from dropping into your gloves, the stretch properties of the neoprene cuff let you get a good fit without worrying about circulation or discomfort.
Overall: excellent gloves, I wear them for almost everything, I've just got a nice new pair provided by Specialist Training Consultants Ltd ready for a Norway trip in Feb where I will use them as a general climbing glove. It's worth getting a lump of G-wax or similar waterproofing for leather boots and working it in if your going anywhere damp or wet. They retail around £40, mine lasted for 6 years, as far as gear goes it's one of the best investments I've ever made!