Whilst I’m really enjoying my six weeks working in Kurdistan, we work every day and even when we have a quiet day, we can’t just go out for a climb or scramble – even running is restricted to a certain area of the camp. This results in not much opportunity for blogging about routes of the week or particular courses that I’ve been working on..!
Fuelled by an extra strong Lavazza coffee this morning though, I had a flicker of inspiration for a blog subject. It’s been written about a thousand times before and isn’t the most thrilling subject I’ve ever written about, but it postpones me reading my Open University degree textbooks, brushing up on my Kurdish or watching more Breaking Bad in bed!
What are your five stand out bits of kit you use for work someone once asked me (they didn’t really…), well, let me tell you, in no particular order…
Black Diamond Speed 30 Rucksack
This comes out with me virtually everyday I work, be it cragging in the Pass, overnighting on Mountain Leader courses or lugging seismic kit around the Middle East.
It’s the previous model and sadly it’s probably not long for this world, but I have a newer version at home still in the wrapping ready for the day this one dies.
It is comfortable, light enough whilst still being tough, strippable, versatile, brightly coloured (all about the photos..!) and has just the right amount of features.
I think it must come up slightly larger that 30L as I can fit all my overnight kit in it including tent, 4 season sleeping bag and all the other paraphernalia.
My BD pack nearing the top of Mosoraski, a cracking multi pitch route in Paklenica, Croatia.
But equally at home on a Summer Mountain Leader assessment
La Sportiva Trango S Evo – the blue ones
Similarly to the BD pack, my blues are on their last legs and looking pretty sorry for themselves but I’ll be getting another pair! I’ve too many boots to count but these have been my go to pair for a long time. Guiding up a damp Idwal Slabs – take the blues, teaching an advanced scrambling course – take the blues, ML course in the Moelwyns – take the blues, Cosmiques Arete in the Alps – take the blues, you get the idea.
Comfy, light, just stiff enough, good to climb in and even take a crampon, there’s a reason you see so many instructors wearing them.
The view from the tent somewhere in the Lakes on a Mountain Leader training
Me looking cheesy on the Cosmiques in my blues, before I decided to only wear bright kit for shots!
DMM Sentinal Karabiner
If I could only ever take one type of screwgate to work, this would have to be it. I love DMM kit, it’s well designed, locally made and reasonably priced.
The little Sentinal is light and small but still takes a couple of clove hitches, I also use one for my belay plate and another one for using the plate in guide mode.
Whether it’s Gogarth, Bosigran or Stanage I’ll definitely have a couple with me.
It’s a krab, so there’s only so much I can write about it, but the Sentinal is ace!
I have a lot of DMM stuff…! A couple of Sentinals in there somewhere.
Terra Nova Laser Competition tent
First off let me say what I say to everyone when I talk about this tent, I don’t really like it! Yet it is my go to one person tent unless the weather is really grim (windy).
So why do I carry it? It weighs less than 1kg, it packs down really small and I picked it up at a ridiculous bargain price of £125 a couple of years ago.
The silly little titanium pegs it comes with are Gucci but crap, I only have a couple left, it’s a bit fiddly to pitch well, you have to add your own extra guylines, you have to add your own pull tags to the zippers, it’s draughty, my God it’s flappy in any wind, you can’t sit up in it, you have to put the silly pole bra on to 1. Stop it leaking and 2. Provide you with two more precious guy lines and did I mention it’s as flappy as a prayer flag on top of K2?!
But I still carry it and will continue to do so simply because of it’s weight and pack size, I have a genuine love – hate relationship with it!
A classic Mountain Leader camping spot in the Moelwyns
Mountain Equipment Citadel Jacket
Luxury. That’s my one word description of this one. I carry this far more than I should. It’s pretty much as close as you can get to the warmth of a down jacket from a synthetic Primaloft belay top. At almost 900g the Citadel’s a bit of a heavy weight compared to my normal kit choices but it’s like being hugged by a friendly Polar Bear when you put it on. From standing around at Lion Rock on a Single Pitch Award assessment to belaying halfway up a winter route in Coire an t-Sneachda this jacket is a feel good item and provides a little haven from the surroundings. A good hood, great pockets, a good fit and thumb loops make this a winner.
If you want something lighter, the Fitzroy is an awesome jacket too, just a bit lighter.
Topping out onto the Cairngorm Plateau, lots of layers including the Citadel on top.
Honourable mentions should go to:
Patagonia Super Alpine jacket, love this but let down by a lame hood.
Black Diamond Z Poles
Black Diamond ATC Guide belay plate
Black Diamond Vapor helmet, so light and comfy but fragile
Adidas Terrex trainers
Mountain Equipment Eclipse fleece hoody, great top but the hood will wind you up
Suunto Core watch
5.10 Greens, sticky as a sticky thing.
Oakley Holbrooks. I was told two very important rules on my MIA training a number of years ago and they’ve stuck with me ever since. Rule 1. Always look cool. Rule 2. When shit goes wrong, refer back to rule 1. Unsurprisingly passed on by a Guide!
Well there you go, that’s passed an hour or so of my day sat in camp!
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