Have you encountered those that look down their noses at your selection of kit just because it doesn’t have the usual branded name?
I have came across this quite often over the years but strangely it is only on the Internet in various walking and climbing forums, I have never encountered it once in the mountains through all my pleasant chats with like so minded people.
In a nutshell then are these people what they call nowadays “keyboard warriors” people that would not comment on your kit in a chance meeting but like to express their sometimes overstated opinion on the Internet.
You see what really annoys me here is the disrespect shown to those that opt for a less popular branded piece of kit, firstly they do not know that persons particular circumstances unless stated, a newbie coming into our sport or hobby is not going to spend hundreds of pounds or dollars on kit until they are sure they are going to carry on with it or ultimately catch the bug which inadvertently never leaves us.
Then there are those whom financialy cannot meet the costs of some of the over inflated prices we see in the high street. Now before I get shouted down here on the safety aspect I am not putting cost before good safe practice if it does the job you are looking for it necessarily doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Technical kit such as crampons obviously needs proper sound advice and you will get that in a good outdoor high Street store, however whenever it comes to technical clothing you purchase what you can afford and through experience you gain an insight into what is going to work for you.
My personal circumstances way back when I started was to use the less expensive option and it was only through experience and finances that I eventually moved up to the high quality technical gear, whether it be clothing, shelters or footwear. But if you see what you deem to be a bargain out of trespass for instance and you know it will do a job, fine you then purchase it.
Don’t be put off posting your kit choices nor asking for advice, but beware taking advice from those that shoot you down on less expensive kit, MRT have a saying ” all the gear but no idea!
Thank you and welcome to my inane writings after a lengthy time away.
It has been two years since i done anything of significance relating to hillwalking or looking at new kit therefore i have a little catching up to do.
In this short segment i am going to update on a subject i dealt with at the very beginning of Summituphere? Depression and the Mountains, hence my absence.
It would be stating the obvious to anyone that knows me on a personal level, that the effect of depression hindering me from participating in our sport or hobby has to put it technically, been a pain in the arse.
The struggle I have is not in the planning or arranging kit, but the final step of physically getting into the car and driving the two hours plus, to my given destination. I can hear a chorus of shorten the trip! Tried that one, but there is an overwhelming feeling which I admit is very hard to explain, a mixture of ” now I cannot be bothered and a large part of guilt” the same kind of guilt you have when you promise a child to take him or her to the cinema to watch their favourite movie and renege on that promise.
This has many related consequences to on a personal level, of becoming withdrawn and the usual “let’s put a face on it” followed by severe bouts of insomnia, the ultimate weight gain and lack of fitness it becomes a vicious circle encapsulating everything you do..What has brought me back? There are a couple of life changing event’s that occurred over the period in question, firstly my beautiful three year old granddaughter who means the world to me she has made me laugh again and given back that feeling of being needed albeit for treats and toys. Secondly a few weeks before Christmas i was diagnosed with skin cancer which was little bit of a shock but pulled everything else into perspective. Trivial matters at work faded into insignificance as did all the normal mundane concerns over finances at home.
As early as yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from hospital to go back in next week for follow up surgery to my leg which has blown my plans of three nights in the Lost Valley Glencoe out of the water. So back to square one as they say. It could be another three weeks before I regain any Semblance of fitness, but I’m more determined than ever to hit those summits.
So sorry if this has been a little sore on the eyes however it can be cathartic for those that do suffer in silence and would advise anyone in the same position get help, depression is an illness and nothing to be ashamed of we are all different therefore there is not one solution fits all.
Hopefully we willI have a lighter topic soon and follow this up with a gear review of some zpacks kit and things..
I have recently shut down my blogger account transferred and revamped Summituphere?
My first post on WordPress , was to be on my forthcoming hike up the Great Glen Way and East Highland Way, however I have become disconcerted at some rather unsavoury comments made to fellow outdoor Bloggers.
Being a bit longer in the tooth than some, and the advances in social media outlets, they wereinitially a little overwhelming for someone of my background. Now having spent a number of years exploring the Great Outdoors and climbing many of our munros and corbetts I had an unquenchable thirst for the knowledge and experiences of other like minded people. Moving to the social media sites was a slow progression from dedicated magazines.
My understanding had been rightly or wrongly, was to share knowledge and skills gained from spending time in the mountains, whether it may be hiking ,climbing or wild camping. Over the past number of years I have acquired some great advice from people far more experienced in certain aspects of mountain skills than I, knowledge is priceless.
This leads me onto my main point, we have fellow outdoor enthusiasts out there whom make the choice of sharing their trips and small adventures with us all via Blogs,Twitter, Facebook etc . It takes a certain amount of courage and confidence to put pen to paper for all to critique, however we have to understand that the majority that do are not professional writers and gain no monetary value from it.
You may ask yourself why do they put themselves out there ? could it be for the love of the outdoors and the anticipation of sharing it with us all , or because simply they like to write. For me it is a little of both , but admittedly I have to be in the mood or mode for writing and time can be a factor as well, or as in this case stirred into what I feel is unjust.
You may not agree with the content of an article or opinion ,fine but that doesn’t give you the right to use foul language or start name calling, we can all put points across in a disagreement or debate, some more eloquently than others, name calling loses the respect I had for your points of view all be it the correct one.
The biggest irritant for me is a fellow blogger criticising someones grammar or punctuation. I am not particularly top of the class on these topics myself and take more time than most to construct a Blog or similar writings. But in defence of all of us not blessed in that department, remember these guys and girls have other skills, skills that you do not have that is almost certain. If you cannot say it face to face don’t do it behind a keyboard.
I would much rather spend time on a mountainside in the knowledge that my companion has the relevant skills out here to keep safe in all weather conditions than having to worry where my next apostrophe or comma should be.
Take the example of the professional footballer skills in abundance and overpaid. How many of those guys write there own books or journals? not many i would imagine.
To paraphrase a quote from our own Keith Foskett, “persistance and desire can conquer any gaps in skill, knowledge and qualifications” taken from Keiths new book Balancing the Blue a brilliant read.
This is my first experience in using this hexagon shaped shelter therefore I have nothing to compare it against, my usual accommodation is the Hillberg Atko which I have had for the past three or four years. My initial reason for purchasing the Hex was for the extra room that it provided.
On removing the Hex from its packaging it was apparent straight away that this shelter could be packed down to a small compact unit inside your sack.
Weight 1.25 kg Si nylon inner nest 8 pegs 2 webbing straps. seam sealer 4 extra mid height guy points all reflective.
My first pitch was in the back garden the instructions state to peg out the four corners first, which are better identified by the location of the tension straps it had taken me around fifteen to twenty minutes to get the shape taught but this is due to my inexperience as stated with this type of shelter. The inner nest erects separately and has an adjustable height slider which hooks onto the peak at the top of your walking pole the other five corners of the tub are staked out and tensioned.
I had decided to camp at Lag Uaine below the summit of Ben Vane, the forecast for the first day was clear and sunny with a slight breeze followed late in the evening with strengthening winds and snow. My second attempt at pitching was far quicker I used my MSR snow pegs just in case, I did notice after tensioning all pegging points that at the rear tensioning strap there was a bit of a fold running up that panel after a few attempts at trying to readjust the fold was still there, it was probably my efforts at pitching however after releasing this strap problem solved.
Now to the inner nest, firstly the five corner points of the tub are staked out which go outside the base of the shelter which I found out to be a bit of a faff especially wearing gloves, these are then tensioned and the top is hooked up to your preferred height.The inner hangs free from the outer fly which I found a problem the nest at the rear had a superfluous amount of material hanging in on top of me . The sides were the same with the walls lying inward at an angle.
This is probably and I must emphasise due to my inexperience of this shelter and would gratefully acknowledge where I am going wrong in this set up.
I thought that the inner could have done with a full length zip running along the bottom, but evidently this all adds to cost.The J zip door gives you the option of more ventilation and a window to the outside. However on rolling back the door the small bungee stays are a faff with gloves on a small Velcro strip would resolve this . The vent above the door is held open with a velcro rod and has a mesh panel at the rear which I don’t think is needed. Setting out my neo air and sleeping bag there didn’t appear to be the room that I had envisaged, but this is likely to be because of my technique as explained above. Bob from backpacking light will be able to sort me out in that respect.The main porch or vestibule area you just cannot fault there is ample room to store all your gear and cook, I could sit in the nest with my legs fully stretched all five nine of me cooking and watching the world go by protected by the elements.
At ten forty-five that evening its test had really began the wind had picked up and must have been gusting around fifty mph so much so that some of the smaller pegs had become loose. After double pegging these points it was much more secure bearing in mind that the wind was so strong it was taking me off my feet at times. The wind had brought in persistent snow and was hitting the shelter side on it was a case of nylon on head at times. But this little guy was holding its own, as the night wore on the wind became stronger still he stood up my only worry was the bend in my walking pole which is now permanent, although only slight. The snow wasn’t a problem either it shed that with ease.
The following morning the winds were still as strong but I did notice that there was a bit if condensation on the fly , which with the wind had subsequently wet my gear in the porch and sleeping bag however these were extreme conditions so transference could be expected.
In addition I did not seal the seams before departure but there was no evidence of water penetration at these points.
To conclude in my humble opinion the
Cons are : staking out nest tub longer bottom zip on inner Velcro instead of small bungee door stays. mesh on inside of vent
Pros: great stability in strong winds Watch your pole! Snow shedding with ease. waterproof taking into account I did not seal the seams. Porch excellent for storage and cooking weight and packing size.
Question is this a good shelter?Please keep in mind my inadequacies in pitching inner I shall get this right with practise. Taking into account the price from Bob and his team at Backpacking light UK of £159.00 this is a lot of shelter for little money, a strong robust shelter that has won me over Would I recommend it? without a doubt.
As you may know from previous posts I have grown to love the LUX HEX PEAK SHELTER I recently received an email from Michael the designer and producer of the Hex regarding points raised on the 2014 model.
He has kindly gave me permission to share with you some of the modifications for 2015 known as the Hex V4 and he shall be sending me the final drafts shortly after he has them translated.
Firstly the most common problem was the stress points on the inner corners of the tub which were prone to tearing, these have now been strengthened. The inner has been made longer for the taller person adding 7-8cm and weighs in at 620g
Michael has sent out a follow up email regarding the the pole set up which may consist of two poles this is rather sketchy at the moment but shall be clarified later. My thinking is it could be similar to the hex mid.
As you can see the F6 inner the two person version fits the one person V4 giving a much larger sleeping area away from midges and other insects, although it cuts down on the cooking area slightly.
On the outer fly weight 660g, are an additional 5 tie out points at the base for optional stability, the stakes slightly longer at 18cm weighing 64g.
The footprint of the V4 as the photo shows is larger than the 2014 model. Weight therefore will be compromised a little, however that should not factor to much for a quality shelter.
To conclude this is the sign of a good designer and manufacturer, one whom is prepared to listen and act upon the needs of guys that review kit. In my opinion, I think that this could be one of the top shelters of 2015.
Hi many thanks if you have come back for part two . I have to confess I am not a professional journalist and do not endorse any products related to my blog I am however open to SCARPA, MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT, SNICKERS. MARS BARS, LUXE, MLD, GOSSAMER, RAB, MONTANE. anyone one needing unbiased reviews for free gear? you know where I am! 😉 😉
In my last post I told you of the three days spent on the Tarmachan ridge and the little event on the” Bad Step” below Meall Garbh.
Well it is now early June and I’m back In Perthshire on the Lawers range this time spending a few days on the summits of Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh thats the other one with the same name that rises above Lochan Nan Cat from there over An Stuc, and onto Ben Lawers.
Now that was the plan and you know what they say about the best laid plans! The initial approach was from the Ben Lawers hotel through an overgrown woodland path, now considering the temperature was in its sixties in old money and you could barely see the path from waist high ferns it made a rather trying start to the journey.
However once out of the dense woodland I had reached the boundary fence to the nature reserve and the upcoming ridge walk opened up in all its golden glory. Time now I thought to rehydrate as I did at the stile that would take me into the reserve. Having re hydrated and wiped my overheated brow I was once again on my way towards Meall Greigh.
In awe at the sun reflecting, what looked like signal mirrors bouncing of the surface of the Lawers Burn to my left and having to squint at nature’s trickery I suddenly realised that I had left my rather expensive sunglasses lying on the stile about two kilometres back down the path. “Bugger” excuse the French so there I was removing my pack and disgruntled trudged back down to retrieve those bloody glasses lessons learnt buy cheaper glasses for someone else to pick up.
In the picture above you can just make out the woodland below where I had left those bloody glasses, although I did not walk back from this spot.
With a little reluctance it was time to move onto my next summit of Meall Garbh which lies in the shadows of An Stuc, it was only a short wander with plenty of time on my hands so decided to collect water and take in some of the other sights along the way. That’s the great freedom you can enjoy time doesn’t matter when the sun is shining and you have your bedroom on your back.
Further along on a small top I came across two elderly gentlemen , whom I shall affectionately name Statler and Waldorf if you recall were characters in the Muppet’s.
They were sitting having lunch and as I passed I overheard them arguing over whether they were at the summit of Meall Garbh or sitting on a false summit, they subsequently asked me if I could settle their argument Statler was adamant they were on the summit of Meall Garbh whilst you could see that Waldorf was desperate for me to agree with him that they weren’t.
I could see that this relationship was of many years in the making as both were desperate for my accreditation however being forever the diplomat, I decided to play the stupid one in this little scenario.
Knowing full well that they were on the wrong summit I then gathered them around my map and pointed at the summit of Meall Garbh stating that this summit which was only 500 metres away could well be part of the summit they were sitting on, in essence a dual summit “see where I am going with this yet” both looked up at me at the same time, with looks on there faces as if to say whats he on about, dual summits! he obviously hasn’t a clue.
This in turn had the effect of deflecting the argument towards my deficiencies where upon they both came to the amicable decision that the true summit was indeed 500 metres away. I had to giggle to myself when Waldorf then said “come on son you better follow us”.
Having made my farewells to Statler and Waldorf I pitched up in the shadows of An Stuc and Ben Lawers then went for a quiet nap before dinner. The weather as you can see was excellent and my stomach was telling me its time to eat, which I did spaghetti bolognese followed by creamed rice.
I now had my domestic duties to fulfil by rearranging the vestibule area it was then when I heard a sudden loud rush of air and the shelter wall push in towards the inner quickly looking out I could hardly believe my eyes, there in front of me was a glider about 30 metres away literally buzzing the Hex like some oversized wasp. By the time I tried to dig my camera out from the pile of gear in the porch he was up up and away.
As a little insight into the workings of the mind, well mine at least that night i had a dream that Statler and Waldorf were the pilots of the aircraft I had seen but the difference was it was fitted with machine guns mounted on both wings and they were out to get me!
The following day I awoke completely refreshed and ready for the day ahead the sun was high in the sky and a small breeze rippled over the ridge the distant call of a raptor could be heard echoing in the silence of the glen below, this was going to be an exceptionally hot day. My plan for the day was to explore some of the outcrops just below the summit of Meall Garbh and An Stuc and indulge in some minor scrambling
An hour later breakfast consumed, domestic duties attended to and I was on my way. This has all become a great part of my enjoyment in addition to wild camping to try and literally feel the mountain I am by no means a botanist nor geologist, however its diversity in all these aspects never cease to amaze me not just on good day such as this but those wild windswept days bring something different in textures and shapes of rock and fauna combined.
This is quite a rare plant which can be found near the summit of Ben Lawers.
The common black slug was very prominent this year I lost count the amount of times I ejected these little critters from my shelter one in particular had a great attachment to me so much so he hitched a ride all the way home squashed to the bottom of my sock, and here was me thinking my boots leaking.
This day in particular was very memorable for the wildlife weather and the hand to rock fun that was had. Around 5 o’clock my stomach was, to coin an old phrase thinking my throat was cut, I hate that turn of phrase however its written now and it stays. So time to head back the three or four kilometres to the shelter and partake of dinner which consisted of meatballs in a spicy sauce accompanied by pasta and garlic bread, yes ………….Garlic bread.
After dinner which was thoroughly enjoyed it was time for a nap when you get to a certain age these little siestas are crucial although it was still pretty hot I did manage to doze for a short while.
Now the evening was wearing on and not to waste this beautiful evening sunshine my light camp shoes (hi Tech zoots) were donned and off I disappeared over a nearby ridge to sit and watch the sunset over the glen below.
The perfect spot was chosen between two rock, a soft moss covered slab and large boulder as a backrest made the ideal big chair, the light breeze that had cooled the fevered brow all day had now gone the silence was bliss overhead a large crow flew and broke the gentle silence with each beat of its wings, the distant occasional bleat of sheep calling their young was the other only sound in this golden hued glen, time for reflection and serenity, thoughts of long days of childhood and distant laughter lost an age past where this passion was formed the ghosts of friends long shadows cast down the glen.
To spend an hour with my past childhood friends in such glorious surroundings the mind wanders and flits in and out of reality, time has stopped, this is all mine then movement, far down the glen a huge stag lifts his proud head to survey his herd, beyond him two more stand sentry my minds eye now starts to distinguish the shapes below grazing unaware of my presence stood over one hundred deer a sight to behold and one that I have not witnessed in such numbers.
Time past in an instant and the golden glow of sunset through a blanket across the mountainside, slowly disappearing over a distant ridge the sun silhouetted two adult deer and their two young walking slowly up the ridge, a very rare sight how good this night has been a long day and a perfect end, coffee and a cosy sleeping bag await as the night mountain air becomes decidedly chilly.
It has been a while, as you may see since I last posted a blog my excuse work commitments and not being in writing mode or mood.
It had been quite an eventful winter in 2013 great snow conditions and some new kit to test.
As with the seasons we all have our favourites for different reasons winter is mine, however I do look forward to spring and summer for the longer daylight hours that allow me to spend longer days in the mountains on the move. Not one for keeping a diary or putting my thoughts to paper on a daily basis I am very grateful for the invention of the camera which helps to keep my memories fresh and is going to of be of some assistance in my dotage.
Well how is everyone? I sincerely hope all you outdoor aficionados had a whale of a time I personally thought the summer was kind to us this year didn’t get wet to often or suffer from hypothermia, as we know very well up on those big mountains in the UK half the time you don’t know what to expect.
I will try not to haver to much and get to the points of my summer in 2014 but please bear with me as my good lady would say in certain words “you do ******* haver!
Late March you would have caught me ascending one of my favourite places the Tarmachan Ridge to spend three days wild camping near the summit of Meall Garbh, and exploring its nooks and crannies incidentally the name Tarmachan means ptarmigan in gaelic, but you probably new that already.
I was fortunate on my first mornings camp to be greeted with brilliant sunshine and spent most of the day playing about its flanks taking pictures and scrambling on some outcrops, its amazing what you can get up to when know ones watching well within reason I drew the line at going back to my childhood and acting out a game of cowboys and Indians, well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
On a more serious note the following morning the weather had turned to a grey damp day and my plan was to walk to the far end of the ridge over the “bad step” which involves minor scrambling for the experienced walker. At the foot of the step I was taking a couple of minutes to adjust my pack and secure my walking poles before ascending. It was then that I heard a young girls voice coming from atop the step followed by a male voice whom I assumed was her dad, the young girl sounded hesitant as her dad persuaded her to take the first steps on descending.
I began to make my way up and reaching half way came across the pair at this point the terror on the little girls face was evident she was around nine years of age and wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear flat treadles shoes on damp rock. Her dad wasn’t any better prepared and he to lacked confidence on the descent where he literally got stuck and couldn’t decide on the next move.
Not wanting to embarrass the dad I made a light hearted comment that he had taken the most difficult route down especially in these wet conditions however I was seething underneath that a “responsible adult ” could put himself and more importantly, his daughter in such a perilous situation. As there were no phone boxes nearby I discreetly donned my red cape and went to there rescue slowly guiding the little girl down first then her dad whom by this time was rightly so embarrassed and ashamed of coming onto the hill so unprepared.
Having shown him a safe route down from the bealach back to the track, I continued on my way but still angry at what I had witnessed.
I’m sorry but I did warn you I do tend to haver on now lets get back to the mountains and the beauty and solitude they offer personally I now prefer to stop and spend time discovering the mountains for their diverse terrain and geology not taking into account weather patterns and cloud formations, clear unpolluted night skies all of these make for memorable experiences that last a lifetime.
The photograph above was taken from Culter Fell I must have spent the best part of two hours sitting watching the different hues and cloud formations develop. This picture is as natural as you can get from a digital camera no photoshop has been introduced.
Taken in mid April you could be forgiven to think this was a winter picture the stuff lying at my feet doesn’t belong to me it is part of the gear from a student group I had the pleasure to meet on the ascent, four girls and a young man, they kindly asked me to join them on the final push to the summit to even up the gender imbalance which I gladly accepted damsels in distress and all that!
How many times do you relish these moments you have twelve mountain miles under your belt found a perfect pitch made coffee and time out here doesn’t mean anything plus I have my new shoes on.
Its one in the morning there is a chill in the air the night is ear shatteringly still the sky is clear and studded with a spectacular display of heavenly bodies who in there bloody right mind gets up at that time in the middle of nowhere. ME
This beats going to a sink to draw water I honestly cannot remember where this waterfall is located but do remember pitching nearby on a through hike over multiple summits and wakening to the sound of running water which in turn turned out to be a desperate departure from my sleeping bag to pee!
Well folks that was just a wee snippet of my summer 2014 part1. In part two I shall continue to bore you with my holiday snaps and mild adventures, take a look at my favourite kit, and a wee mention of inspirational people I have met on social media and why and anything else I think may be of interest.