We are all now very accustomed to the concept of windproof layers and their benefitsalong with their compact size means that they are indispensable and allow for constant packing in your pack.
True Mountain sent me a sample of one of their brand new range of windproof’s to test over a couple of months to make sure its had a thorough range of mountain days and conditions to really shake itout.
Whats so new about a new windproof on the market?
The materials are different from the others on the market at the moment; here's the comparisons from the True Mountain website. Ultralite Windshell
You will have noticed the major difference, as reflected in the logo, is that its designed and made in Britain.
I grew up on a heritage of British is best products for the outdoors.
You could tell which side of the pennines hill folk came from due to the brand
name on their rucksack.
Innovation and competition was fierce but friendly and with the new
technologies emerging in fabrics;life in the outdoors became much more comfortable and lighter in weight meaning we could stay out
longer to enjoy it further and go faster.
True Mountain have taken this fantastic heritage and ideals and have been at the forefront of the reshoring, the term used to describe the fact the materials, design and manufacturer are taking place in Great Britain.
This can give an almost instant change in garments colour’s and design, stock run and overall cost in terms of turnaround rather than the months to years that production in Asia can offer.
So, back to the windproof, the essential item not just to be packed but taken and used from a pack. True Mountain have been able to listen to my feedback and act on it almost there and then to change the little things that make a big difference.
I have worn it over three months in most weather conditions in high end activities, work and dog walking. Its been invaluable on the OMM, Lake District Mountain Trial, Spine Race training, RAB and other events.
In the picture above, on a wet and windy day in the Cheviot on the OMM,
I put the windshell on over my dry base layer and under my wet base layer to help dry it off as I slept and rested for day two.
All of the above events are notoriously hard events typically true British affairs with accompanying mountain weather.
The back is long enough not to ride up under a pack.
The side panels compliment the colur scheme and work hard at moisture management; another plus point for the jacket.
The sleeves are made to be snug yet adaptable enough to moved up the arm to further aid in keeping cool. The zip works well even with gloves on, I did add a knotted string zip puller.
My sample model had a test hem closure system which did not affect the jacket
as I wore a waist belt on my rucksack.
It did have potential to be changed and Tim and the True Mountain crew took on board my feedback very speedily.
In terms of looks True Mountain have addressed this as well with some vibrant and retro colour schemes that would work well in the mountains and the trendy bars of Shoreditch and the Northern Quarter.
At the last minute I decided to enter a revived classic tradional Mounatin Orienteering event hosted by West Cumbria Orienteering Club in the little visited fells around Kirkland.
An early start and with a forecast getting better thro the day I met up with John
the orgainser and registered, did the usual faffing and then was given a map to set off.
Walking to the start I was trying to work out the scale dimensions and a 1:15000 with 5m contour interval with O type colours took a little time to get used to.
In the end it took a looong time to get used to as I cleared, set off from the start and then found the out-run track runnable I got my head down and shuffled quickly.
Its unusal not to be flogging up a steep hill in the first 1km and I was going quicker than ususal. A bloke from WCOC came past and I sort of tagged onto the back of him. The Plateau arrived with a fence and jumped it and shot off into some tussocks not unlike on the OMM a few weeks previous. I marched on thro and started to drop quickly. I saw Steve Heaton and Kaaren Nash behind me and this spurred me on.
I then stopped at the coll I thought was my No. 1 and realised I was facing the wrong direction nothing fitted, so i did the classic thing when in a rush, of trying to make it fit!!. I thought I would give up on No. 1 and just go round the others, not dibbing.
I set off downhill to number 2 and then realised the sheepfold fast approaching was in the wrong vallet when I unfolded the map to have a look for a line to No. 3!!!!!
OOh long uphill back to 2 where I had just been stood!!!! (the kites were a little flattened)
So a day of pics and fun and meeting some old and new friends.
We had a few other stars who helped inspire and had a few laughs with Jeremy Hunt went on to become a pro rider. Craig Battresby went onto elite cycling as an amateur. Clive Burke and Bobhat (Ian Roberts ) were stalwarts and other names pictured left at York Rally wher Clive bought a brand new Tri suit.
Clive, Bobhat and I decide that we should climb Mt Blanc one year we decided on early June. To cut a multitude of epics short (please ask about all the stories) we had to turn around and come back down. Sadly on this snowy descent Bobhat slipped and fell and was killed.
The last picture of him is with me top left of this collage.
I decided to honour my friends memory and after being inspired into further lightweight adventures by the Crane brothers, cousins of Nick Crane running the length of the Himalaya in 100 days. Click Here
I had five days off work and ran from home to the train station in Bolton to get to Manchester Airport. I took one KIMM bag 7kg in total no tent, stove etc just a cup, spoon, sleeping bag and minimal kit.
I set off from Chamonix in mid-June to run the famous Tour De Mount Blanc. This was in the days before UTMB points dictated the run that we choose to do. I just wanted to be in the mountains and reasonably close, to lay a few to ghosts to rest, to a friend of mine. I recently read Heather Dawe Book, cunningly called Adventures In Mind, where she tells of a similar tail.
I travelled as far as I could each day as a solo experience. For pictures I ran forward balanced my (film) camera set the self timer and ran back PDQ to then head back to the camera. So did more than the official route and time I should of done.
Note the plastic bread bags on my feet to keep out the snows of the passes. My feet went green for weeks after as the dye came out of my Walshes Fell running shoes
Kit was a cotton T shirt, Oakley Factory Pilots frames as worn by Greg Lemond, Ron Hill Tracksters over Freedom Shorts. Spare T shirt, Cotton neck scarf, sleeping bag, Karrimat, Spoon and Mug, one extra pair of undies/ socks.
I managed to run round the route in 40hrs. I lost my money in Italy after buying a small bag of biscuits, I just ran away from it as I left it on a bench. On my return to France I managed to change £5 to buy tywo bottles of wine so had something to do at least. I found a park to sleep under the ping pong tables but was rescued by a runner from Somerset who let me sleep in his car.
I had a great adventure and it stemmed a lot more. Do not be constrained by perceptions, remember friends and loved one's and enjoy every step of your journey.
I feel its time to get back to Mt Blanc soon along with a few more Adventures that I have in Mind.
OS and Silva two of the worlds renowned names in Navigation have teamed up with an App and Map approach to Mountain Safety. I was shown the app at Keswick Mountain Festival and when it came out on Android I downloaded it to test it out. Its very simple and works well. I was out on a Navigation training course yesterday in a very wet Langdale vally with James and Kathryn from Dorset. We were looking at traditional map and compass techniques and I showed them this app to help compliment their new skills. We had a great day out in the warm rain in the Langdale Valley and James and Kathryn helped me to realise what I take for granted in my work as an International Mountain Leader whilst working in our fantastic scenery in the Lakes. They took lots of photos and were awed by the landscape and will hopefully come back to the lakes. We finished off with a liquid debrief at the National Trust run Stickle Barn Tavern in the sunshine.
It is worth noting that the App is there to back up Map and Compass skills not to replace it. Map and compass skills need to be practised If you wanting to get out and practice Navigation get in touch. 1:1 and groups are easily accommodated You cant not learn something from it.
I have spent some of my weekend on an event wombling. Please dispose of your litter responsibly. Its part of the rules of being in an event to follow the country code. Why not take a cup on a run with you and save the road runner mentality of using plastic cups at every checkpoint. Gel bars and Banana skins seem to be the biggest culprit. Folk think its ok to chuck these. Bananas should be eaten before or after an event not during. http://www.kgbanswers.co.uk/how-long-does-it-take-the-human-body-to-digest-a-banana/4911536
This is an event that has taken on a classic status and the format gives the mountain lover a chance to get to grips with the Lakes over a stunning three days of movement through some powerful terrain.
As I had to work on the Monday I offered to work as part of the safety team for two days this year. I think its sometimes easier running! There is a lot to get on with in the background and Shane has a great team of people to help the swan move on the water.
This year had a mass start from Pooley Bridge starting on the Ullswater Steamer taking the runners to Howtown for the real start to all the courses. This took them over the High Street range down to Kentmere Valley for the first camp. Then day 2 saw the runners going through to Grasmere over a few hills and valleys.
I saw a great number of folk that I have seen at various events over the years and tried to get a warts and all style of pictures of the two days I was involved with this great event. Well done to all who took part both the runners and the tireless marshal team that make the event a Great Lakeland 3 Days.
we were on a Snow and Sand expedition over two weeks we made an ascent of Mount Toubkal, North Africa's highest mountain at 4165 mtrs. and then went to the Saharan sand dunes near to the Algerian border. Here we spent a night star gazing while camping in a bedouin campsite after a camel ride into the dessert. We woke early to climb a sand dune to watch the sunrise.
Here is a condensed version of the trip in photos.
If you want to fill up your glass with mint tea and browse for a while here are the photos for you. Click Here
Thanks to Mohamed and Jamal from Toubkal Traveling for all their support and help during the trip
Have a read of this please, especially if you are going to Morocco and any other places that use mules for transport of your kit whilst on your expedition. It certainly helps to sustain an economy and enhance the travellers experience. http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/blog/8180
If you look after the whole of your expedition crew they will look after you.
We have used Donkey power for years since Mary famously went to Bethlehem on one. For our outdoor activities. R.L Stevenson author of Treasure Island used a Donkey on his outdoor adventure in France during 1879. Stevenson was in his late 20s and still dependent on his parents for support.Travelswas both meant to he needed to be with the woman he loved, and provide the adventure he craved, having been sickly much of his life.
Travels recounts Stevenson's 12-day, 120-mile solo hiking journey through the sparsely populated and impoverished areas of the Cévennes mountains in south-central France in 1878. The character of Modestine, a stubborn, manipulative donkey he could never quite get the better of, is memorable. It is one of the earliest accounts which presented hiking and camping outdoors as a recreational activity. It also tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags, large and heavy enough to require a donkey to carry.
Another relevant piece of reading have a look at this
Here is an insight int what Alpine Climbing was really like in the 1930's Some of the belays and axe techniques may be a bit iffy but everyone was happy. All St Bernards should have a big barrel of grog to aid climbers, dont you think?
If thats not to your taste try three on a rope. You know what they say about three being a crowd?
So these came as an alternative to a trusted brand to try out now in the Northern Lakes where I now live and work as a full time outdoor instructor and with Nav4 helping to organise and with training courses for Mountain Marathons, Hill and Adventure racingThis is the mark two version and comes in several eye catching colour designs. The lacing is a standard eyelet lacing system that has been tried and tested and cant really be faulted. It secures the foot well and can be adapted along its length to fit differing foot widths.
The sole unit is deep lugged and is useful on the northern fells where the ground is not so rocky. These would be ideal for Howgills, Southern Uplands, Cross Country, Orienteering type areas of event. I found them very slippy on wet rock, but most sole units and compounds are. They cleaned reasonably well enhancing the grip over this sort of terrain.
The midsole offers good cushioning but not to much for contouring, more testing is needed here to give a better picture for myself.
The toe box is good for me in that its open and rounded and has plenty of space with a toe protector over the mesh upper. This drains very well going through boggy ground.
The insole stays in place even when wet very handy and gives a confident feel to the shoe.
In this picture on the left you can see the tongue rolling that occurs to frequently, this could easily be rectified with a simple loop to centralise the tongue. Another thing that I found on buying my original pair was that they are lasted very small. I normally take a 41(7) but on trying them on I had to return them and get an 8. I am not sure if half sizes are available? The 8 means that the shoe rolls a little and is slighty floppy across the toe cut area on me.
During this day out I saw another bloke running up in the same pair as I was coming down the hill with my dog back toward Mungrisedale. I never got a chance to ask what he thought of them.
In summary this is a good shoe that with a little more time from me on the fells may be more of a grower on me. I will get out more and evaluate further. The price is right