MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012

Jubilee Medals

Earlier this year as part of the celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, a special medal was announced to commemorate the work of those on the front line of helping the nation. Among those selected were members of the Armed Forces, emergency services personnel, prison services personnel, Police Community Support Officers and many more who have made contributions to the country for five or more years.

'I hope the official medal will serve as a mark of thanks to all those who give so much in the name of society and public service and I extend my congratulations to all the recipients.' Jeremy Hunt, MP

We are proud that two Outside employees received these special Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for keeping visitors and locals alive and well on the hills and in the villages of the local area.

Outside's Calver shop manager Matt Hood was presented with his by the Duke of Devonshire for services to our local Mountain Rescue Team, Edale, which is one of the busiest in the country.

Matt Hood being presented with his medal by the Duke of Devonshire

Edale MRT with their medals

Pete Mummery has been a member of the Hope Valley St John Ambulance team for nine years this September. Over this time three of the call outs for Category A emergencies have been to Outside shops!

Hope Valley St John Ambulance with their medals, Pete is in the middle

To find out more about these two worthy organisations or to make a donation, follow the links below.

Edale MRT Derbyshire St John Ambulance

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012
Team Photo

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012

Swiss Granite

We recently attended a European Outdoor trade show and had it suggested to us by Rab's Neil McAdie that we should sneak in a few days climbing in Switzerland after the show. Dad (Richard), James, Neil and I all headed off to Salbit for 3 days of post show climbing.

We arrived on the Sunday evening to a very wet Göschenen, we pitched our tents and woke up to the sound of rain pattering against the flysheets. After a lazy start, the weather improved and we decided to head to some 4 pitch slab routes in the valley. In the evening we called Hans who runs the Salbit hut high on the valley side and he said the forecast was good; we booked our places for the following night and packed for the morning.

We got up on the second day and started our walk up to the Salbit hut. We arrived at a very busy hut around midday. Hans greeted us warmly and explained that as the hut was so full we would be sleeping in the woodshed! It was actually much more comfortable than it sounds as it was their overflow sleeping area. We dropped off our overnight gear and then headed up to a large granite wall about an hour from the hut.

Incredible 5c+

Dad and I did a route that lived up to its name, Incredible. A 7 pitch 5c+ route that was quite hard to approach as there was large snow banks at the base of the rock face. Very enjoyable climbing and the crux pitch felt around HVS. Like most of the routes in the Salbit the belays were bolted and there were good bolts along the route as well. We took a small rack to bridge the gap between some of the more sparse sections of bolts. James and Neil did a route that ran parallel to ours but was a bit harder, Leviathan 6b+, a stunning crack that runs up the blank wall to the right of Incredible. Four good abseils brought you back down to the bags at the bottom of the wall. We got back to the hut in time for a hearty meal cooked by Hans and his family.

Rob with Dad on Incredible 5c+ from Leviathan

James climbing with Neil

We woke up at 5am on the third day to a cloudless sky and headed up to the base of the Salbitschijen Sudgrat (South Ridge) 5a. There was a bit of a procession of people on the approach, obviously making the most of the good forecast. We started climbing around 7:30 in still, sunny weather. A fantastic route of 15 pitches with a few abseils of some peaks that eventually tops out on the top of the Salbit (2,981m).

Dad on crux pitch of Salbitschijen Sudgrat 5a

We found the general grade was between HS and VS with a crux pitch that felt more like E1 5b (that can be aided if required) which Dad lead and climbed free with ease! It is good climbing all the way with a fantastic couple of crack pitches that take you to the summit. It’s a route with fantastic views and good exposure, the only problem was the volume of people resulting in some queuing at belays. We topped out around 4pm which was over guide time but due to the amount of traffic on the route this was not surprising.

Final pitches of Salbitschijen Sudgrat 5a

From the top we could see James and Neil topping out on their route Licht und Schatten 6a+ which took them to the top of the Zwillingsturm, a lower peak of the Sudgrat. They had a long abseil back to the base as they had left their bag and shoes at the bottom.

Once we were at the top of Salbit there is no abseiling required as you can walk off down the back which was interesting as you have to cross a large snowfield and descend a usually snow free gully. This was tricky as we had no axe or crampons, only approach shoes and walking poles. After carefully descending the gully we arrived back at the hut for 6:30. We rendezvoused with James and Neil there before descending back to the valley floor. 

Neil very kindly lent us some samples of Rab product to try on our trip; Dad was wearing the Vapour-Rise Lite Alpine Jacket which he found fantastic for big multi-pitch routes. We were all wearing the MeCo 120 base layers which worked well, and thanks to its merino wool content meant we could wear them for the 3 warm days without us all smelling out the hut!

Thanks to Neil for suggesting such a good accessible area to visit.  I can strongly recommend it and am sure we will be back at some stage. If you want to know more about Salbit, we used Salbit Erleben! (Filidor, 2009) which is the best guide to the area and co-authored by Hans!

Rob is the manager of Outside Hathersage

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012
By Rob Turnbull
Managing Director

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Rob Turnbull
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FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012

Mammut Swiss Irontrail

Tim and I from Outside’s Head Office were recently lucky enough to get an invitation to visit Mammut’s Headquarters in Lenzburg Switzerland with Chris and Steve from Mammut UK. We were going to see where Mammut make their famous ropes and also to visit their new footwear design and development department which moved recently.

Raw sheath strands before the heat treatment which gives them their elasticity

However, we were going to have to ‘sing for our supper’ and do some exercise while we were there. Mammut are the main sponsors for the Swiss Irontrail trail running event and were going to take part. There were four course lengths available to choose from; 200km, 140km, 75km and 25km. Yes, you’ve guessed it, we chose the 25km! Obviously if we’d been there longer, we’d have done one of the other lengths......

The factory visit on the first day was extremely interesting and our guide Oliver, in superb English of course, took us through the whole process from turning the raw nylon-6 filaments into the core strands, through the braiding of the sheath, and finishing with the automated cutting and coiling of the finished ropes. We also saw the batch testing process whereby  rope from every batch is tested to destruction on the fall rig.

This shows how the sheath of the rope is braided onto the core strands. The core strands come up vertically from the bottom of the machine and the bobbins of the sheath material ‘dance’ around and through each other to plait the sheath. The number of bobbins in dependent upon the diameter of the rope and also the desired feel of the rope. More bobbins of thinner sheath strands will give a smoother rope but it will be more expensive. Fewer bobbins will give a less expensive rope but it will feel much ‘bumpier’ and will abrade more quickly in use.

Whilst the braiding machines work perfectly well on their own, you still need to change the bobbins when they run out!

After a carbohydrate rich dinner in Arosa to prepare for our run the following day, we had an early-ish night. My fitful sleep was interrupted by a text at 05.30 am telling us that the 75km and 25km events had been cancelled due to bad weather overnight. As we were ready and raring to go, we decided to have a go anyway, although finishing back in Arosa again rather than in Chur, where the original course went. An initial warm up on roads quickly led to quite steep tracks winding underneath the cable car to the Aroser Weisshorn. A quick walking pace with the occasional jog got us to the cloud wreathed summit of the Weisshorn (2600m) in 1h 25mins having ascended over 900m.

Some photos and a quick drink led to an excellent and speedy descent to the Carmanna Pass and then some more great single-track descent to the Carmanna Hut. From there it was plain sailing on good tracks through meadows and woods above Arosa, finishing back at the hotel after an excellent 16km outing, leaving us wondering why the event had been cancelled.

We subsequently discovered that many people on the 2 longest courses had been rescued on the Friday night due to heavy rain and difficult navigation (and under-preparedness apparently), leaving no extra staff to marshal the 2 shorter courses. Still, we’ve got free entry into next year’s event as compensation; perhaps I’ll start my training more than 4 weeks before the event this time!

Thanks to Chris and Steve from Mammut UK and to everyone at Mammut HQ for the invitation and the hospitality.

Jez is Outside's Footwear and Accessories Buyer

FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012
By Jez Portman
Footwear and Equipment Buyer

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Jez Portman
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FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012

Yeti Spotting

So plans were laid to go Yeti spotting in the Alps. On 30th June me and three friends set off to the French Alps to spot Yetis. Upon arriving on Saturday afternoon we proceeded to the local watering hole at the bottom of the Le Pleney lift in the village of Morzine. No Yetis were spotted so plans were made for a expedition to go up to higher ground on Sunday.

Sunday morning arrived and our trusty steeds were loaded on to the Le Pleney lift. After a couple of runs down the weather took a turn for the worse. I reached into my survival pack to take out a Berghaus Velum Jacket. After a couple more runs down in what can only be described as monsoon rain I was still bone dry from the protection given by the Velum. During the runs down I was disengaged from my trusty steed a couple of times. Inspecting the Velum and fearing the worst it was very reassuring to see there was no damage.

By the end of the day we still had no Yeti count.

Monday arrived and the weather was pretty much the same as Sunday ended. So the day began with wearing the Velum from the start. We changed our approach and decided to head out on the super Morzine lift on the other side of the valley as we had reports that Yetis had been spotted at Les Lindarets. After several runs one of the team left to go back to the chalet, saying he was cold and wet. Being wrapped in my Velum I had no such problems, it was standing up to some punishing trials in the harsh environment.

When the day ended we returned to the chalet covered in mud smiling all the way like we had just won the lottery. We had so much fun riding and falling off in the mud. After cleaning down the trusty steeds my attention turned to the Velum with no working washing machine to hand I decided to give the Velum a jet wash!!!!!! Several minutes later the Velum looked as good as new so leaving it to hang dry overnight I proceeded to sample the local crushed grapes. Around the table that evening it was brought to my attention that we had not spotted any Yetis again during the days riding.

Tuesday dawned and the weather looked promising with only low clouds and a slight drizzle we proceeded to get our mounts ready for a hard day's riding. Going into the garage below the chalet the Velum looked as good as new on the hanger - on inspection I was pleasantly surprised to see and feel the Velum was bone dry considering the soaking I had given it with the jet wash!!!! Slipping into the Velum that morning can only be described as sheer bliss, safe in the knowledge that anything the trail would throw at us today it would brush aside with ease.

After several runs down as what can only be described as crazy the Velum was working overtime. On the way down it was breathing very well, wicking away perspiration and keeping me dry. On the lifts back up it was keeping out the cold and wet air and maintaining a very comfortable body temperature. Again at the end of the day the bikes were jet washed along with the Velum. Leaving it to dry overnight I retired to try some of the local crushed red grapes.

Wednesday dawned and the weather was dry and hot (thought I was back in England) taking the Velum off the hanger I was sure it would be clean and dry it was. So the day for the Velum started with it being stuffed into the bottom of my riding pack. We set off to a place of great riding (Châtel) I was feeling good knowing the Velum was sleeping in the bottom of my pack waiting to be called upon should the weather take a turn for the worse.

After a morning of great riding and Yeti spotting WOW it was there a beautiful turquoise Yeti less than 3ft away from me (see photo) this moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. Returning back to the chalet to jet wash the bike down I realised I had still got the Velum in the bottom of my pack and that today it did not require a jet wash. Tonight we celebrated with some special grapes (champagne).

Thursday arrived and we took a day off from riding and spotting Yetis. Going for a walk around the town I put the Velum on as the weather did not look too promising when we set out. Within the hour it had started to rain - on close inspection of the rain droplets on the Velum it was very reassuring to see that the water was still beading and not wetting out after 2 jet washes!!!

So after some very harsh wet weather I can safely say the Velum lived up to and exceeded my expectations of this jacket. If you are looking for a high active, weather-proof, highly breathable jacket you won't go wrong with a Velum.

During the whole week's riding I was wearing a Rab MeCo 120 Long Sleeve Tee which also performed exceptionally well. Due to several crashes on the bike the camera was broken so I could only salvage a couple of photos.

FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012
By Paul Morris

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Paul Morris
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MONDAY, JULY 9, 2012

Day Hits

I seem to have reached the age in my life where all spare days off either have at least one wedding, 30th birthday or a stag do. Don't people know I need to go climbing? So recent weekends off have meant: 1 day climbing, 1 day being a real person. I still like to try and get away.

Tremadog - North Wales
First up was a stag do in North Wales on a bank holiday weekend, this wasn't due to kick off till the Saturday evening. Time to cram in a short day at Tremadog, YES!

Running first pitch into second on Tremadog mega classic Vector*** E2 5c

We headed down on the Friday evening and after a few to many beers and sleeping in the van we awoke slightly fuzzy to a packed Tremadog. Working in retail means you rarely see busy crags! I paired up with Steve from the Calver branch and we set about the classics  (that we could get on with minimal queuing!) The Fang (HVS 5a), The Plum (E1 5b), Vector (E2 5c) and Void (E4 6a) all made for a great, if rather short day and we headed to the stag do around 5pm for more beers. This was a first day out for a brand new pair of Sterling Duetto ropes. They performed brilliantly and we got loads of comments like "Nice ropes!" and "You can't miss them!". Bright is right!

Aiden happy with the ropes

Goat Crag - Borrowdale - Lake District
The next weekend i have off and this time its a wedding, but on a Sunday. This can only mean that climbing on Saturday and hangovers will have to be at work on Monday. This time I paired up with my normal climbing partner Aiden and we headed to Goat crag in the Lakes where we had never been before. Again it was a bank holiday so i excepted the worst, but even though the campsite was full the crag was abandoned.

Leaving the pod on Void*** E4 6a

Some of the steeper lines looked clean but this was a VERY dirty crag, which was a shame as the climbing was excellent. Praying Mantis (E1 5b), Tumbleweed Connection (E2 5c), The Voyage (E3 5c) and Alone in Space (E1 5b) were today's ticks. Some of the top sections on these routes felt pretty spicy with missing pegs and moss covered groves adding to the adventure (and  fear!). Another great day and lets hope some time we will find time for a 2 day hit again!

Aiden off on a voyage (The Voyage*** E3 5c pitch 2)

James works at Outside Hathersage

MONDAY, JULY 9, 2012
By James Turnbull

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James Turnbull
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FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012

USA Trip

The Summer of 2012 saw a visit to Denver, Colorado by two of Outside's most reckless hooligans.

Thanks to Chaco and Merrell shoes, Steve and Joe were given the opportunity to take a day's rafting and zip lining along the Arkansas river followed by another 10 days of bouldering, hiking and general tomfoolery at world class venues including Mt Evans and Emerald Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Joe (left), Zack (centre), Steve (right)

We arrived late evening at Denver Airport to the most incredible sunset over the mountains, the beauty of this somewhat eclipsed by my apprehension about the prospect of driving a tiny little hire car on the big American roads...'Steve' from Alamo Cars had a firm handshake so I felt reassured. A rather erratic 5 minute car park based driving lesson ensued as it was the first time I had encountered fine automatic transmission of a 2008 Toyota Yaris. Having not really got to grips with that we gunned all of the 1000cc beast to the city of Denver which looked all twinkley.

Our four star hotel was plush so we didn't really fit in and we sat about using free wifi in the lobby making the place look untidy. After a day of rest walking around Denver getting sunburned we purchased jerky and rested ready for our pre-dawn start to the Granite Outpost near the town of Buena Vista three hours south-west of the city. The day out was fantastic yet exhausting the longest of the zip lines was a quarter of a mile which took some concentration, and in the afternoon the rafting with our guide Zack was an unforgettable experience in which we were able to take in the scenery of the Arid Canyons and snow tipped peaks across the plains first hand.

Garden of the Gods

Following another days rest and a visit to the Garden of the Gods sandstone outcrops, we took off for Mt Evans an hour or so from the hotel. The 3.5 mile walk in down switchback trails and up dirt tracks  was a total faff and I felt rubbish. But Steve, he also felt rubbish so that was fine. Seeing as it was at 11,500 ft above sea level that explained a lot.

What's up Bro? Mt Evans

We got to work on the alpine blocs and Hobbit make a few quality ascents before injuring his foot. Massive bummer. Fortunately because the little badger is so freaking strong he was able to return after a rest day to climb up to V6 wearing only one shoe. Respect. I also climbed a number of quality lines on the perfect granite, but not without making it look very hard and going all red in the face. A firm favourite of the venue was The Ladder, a five star V2 boulder problem that was perhaps the most perfect five moves either of us had done on rock.

Some kind of vermin, Lumpy Ridge

For the second half of our trip we said good bye to our hotel, and hello to Paul, manager of the Estes Park Hostel, a stones throw from RMNP. Paul was full value, the hostel had some quality rustic charms. The town of Estes smelled of burned sugar and tourism but was scenic and relaxed with a good coffee house by a river. The best day of the trip took us to Emerald Lake in the park. The walk in more mellow, the scenery vibrant in the bright sunshine and cloudless skies.

Steve on an unknown V4, Lumpy Ridge

The problem of the trip for us both was one called The Kind, a 45° overhang with positive crimps and weathered pinches. This saw a flash from Steve and myself. Steve went on to complete a really tough V7 variant of the five star classic. Send of the trip. Following that my own ascent of a nearby V6 made the trip for me, and Steve also quickly boxed it off. Ready for a burger at the Wapiti Bar & Grill, back in town. After that there was a big dump of snow. The next day we took an optimistic hike up past Emerald lake and Hallet Peak to Chaos Canyon to seek out further climbs. Heartbreak. The boulders buried in the packed down snow and ice. So we payed homage, shed a tear and hiked back to town to the car, which we had eventually worked out had a 4th and a 5th gear, would you believe it!

Steve on an unknown V4, Emerald Lake

Further days of fatigued pebble bothering took place at Moraine Park where Hobbit (Steve) dispatched another V5 classic which was nice. Following that our goose was squarely cooked so we came home. To summarise the trip was a huge success and a great experience, but in order to give a a more complete account the following list of do's and dont's established over the course of the two weeks should help act as a rough guide to anyone considering a similar trip themselves. It is not hugely informative but it is true...

The trip: Lessons Learned
1. Do not run stop signs.
2. Do not run red lights.
3. Do not drive the wrong way down a free way.
4. Do not make illegal U turns on an amber light having corrected previous manoeuvre in order to quickly rejoin the correct route to destination.

1. Do eat crisps aka 'chips'. Do eat them a lot.
2. Do drink large volumes of isotonic sports drink 'Gatorade'.
3. Do get ears so sunburned they feel like thick sliced crispy bacon rashers.
4. Do wear a trucker cap with a jaunty slant.

1. Do not eat 'pure pain' flavoured chili jerky. (Ray, that is not 'good stuff')
2. Do not purchase a beer at the hotel bar as it will cost you eight dollars.
3. Do not forget to get up at 4am to go rafting.
4. Do not run out of crisps.

1. Do enjoy zip lining through trees alongside the Arkansas river.
2. Do trust Zack, he has it covered in the boat. Few teeth, much wisdom.
3. Do take a 4 mile hike through incredible scenery at 11,000 ft in order to get totally served by boulder problems on the perfect granite at Mt. Evans.
4. Do climb in a sock rather than a rock boot in order to accommodate for bleeding toe nails incurred during a foot/rock collision.

1. Do not leave granola bars loose in your pocket it gets really furry
2. Do not let the chipmunks eat them out of your bag either.
3. Do not explain to every passer by that the 'mattress' on your back is in fact a bouldering pad.. Just tell them you are a severely narcoleptic hiker who may collapse at any point.
4. Do not share a hostel bed with a man called Hobbit, he tosses about all night and you can't get a wink in.

1. Do be outrageously British about everything so as not to be confused for an Australian.
2. Do eat grilled fish tacos with rice and beans.
3. Do hang out with a guy called Jan Klatt, aka 'Rambo', that boy is 'into the wild' without a doubt.
4. Do engage pipes on some of the best bouldering in the world at Emerald Lake.

Big thanks to Chaco, Merrel and everyone at Outisde who had to work around our trip, especially Rob and Ian.

Joe works at Outside Hathersage

FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012
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