27th August 2018

Nordisk Telemark 1 LW Tent Review

Nordisk Telemark 1 LW Tent Review: Lightweight tents, they’re always a compromise, they have to sacrifice something. Durability, stability or space? For years I’ve used a Terra Nova Laser Comp when I’ve been camping on Mountain Leader expeditions and it was always a love hate relationship! They’re both priced around £300, but how does the Nordisk Telemark compare?

nordisk telemark lightweight tent

Photo from the Nordisk website

Firstly, what did I like & not like about the Laser? I liked it’s lightness, it’s sub 1kg and packs nice and small, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by it’s durability the only things that didn’t last were the guy lines, they all snapped over the years, but I’ll take that! What I don’t like… being slapped in the face by the inner fabric all night long. The inner is very narrow at the ends and I’m very tall, this was a constant source of annoyance. The actual tent proved to be pretty stable in bad weather, but like most one pole tents, it is a bit flappy in windy weather – although I added two guy lines at each end which helped massively. I also did not like Terra Nova’s laziness at not putting those guy lines on themselves, or bothering to put pull tags on the zips and would one pocket inside have been too much to ask for?

How does the Nordisk compare? Well it’s lighter, at 830grams (before I added a couple of guy lines and a couple more pegs) and packs a touch smaller even though it’s actually a little bigger in terms of footprint (a touch lower though 86cm v 95cm of the Laser). It’s similarly flappy in the wind but it has wider ends so, hallelujah, I don’t get slapped in the face like I do in the Terra Nova. Nordisk did bother to put pull tags on the zips and they even put a decent pocket on the inside – woop woop. The little clips that tie back the door and attach the inner to the outer are positive and easy to use with chilly hands and the guy line pegging points are nice metal, durable rings, little points that keep me happy.

nordisk telemark tent, mountain leader

Somewhere in the Moelwyns, standard ML territory!

It must have some downsides though? It’s too early to comment on the durability of the fabric, but it is pretty thin so we’ll have to see about that, but a lot of users have complained about the amount of condensation that builds up inside over night and I’ve had mixed experiences of this. I’ve had a couple of nights where I’ve had far more condensation than I expected, despite there being a gentle breeze that I thought would move some air through the tent. I’ve had other nights which weren’t wildly different weather where I’ve had virtually zero condensation – the weather must have been a bit different but I’ve not been scientific on this one I’m afraid.

Like the Terra Nova, it’s a doddle to pitch, the single pole slides easily into the sleeve and folds down nice and small for when it’s in your bag, the Nordisk can be pitched with just 4 pegs. You can use the mini end poles to create a pole for the porch, but I’ve not felt the need for this and probably never will. The inner floor is on a slider so you can make the porch a little bigger and the inner a little narrower, or vice versa depending on your preference. Even with the inner at max theres enough space for your pack, boots, and of course a Cocker Spaniel! Whilst the tent feels more spacious when you’re lying down, the ten centimetres less head space is noticeable and I wouldn’t want to spend a long time living in this tent, but that’s not really what it’ll be used for, it’s an arrive late, leave early type tent. There is also a two person version which does give some more height – as well as a bigger footprint of course.

nordisk telemark tent review

The little bear!

As well as the two person version, there’s also an Ultra Lightweight version, costing £495 ish and weighing in at 770grams, I decided it wasn’t worth the extra cost to me.

At the moment I’m really happy with the Nordisk and it’s my go to tent for Mountain Leader duties, I am slightly concerned about how the condensation will play out and I am considering a slightly bigger tent for when the weather becomes a bit more wintery – something a bit more stable with more space to sit up and have the dog inside, maybe something like a Terra Nova Superlite but I don’t think they make them any more.

For more details on the Nordisk Telemark, take a look at the Nordisk site.

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“Say hello to my little friend!”

This pack is a beast. If you’re looking for a lightweight pack for floating up alpine routes or such like, then step away from this one! It’s 2kg in weight and is built like a tank.
Black diamond creek rucksack
It looks a lot like a haul bag at first glance and is designed to be as tough as old boots, but thats not to say it doesn’t have some level of refinement.

The material this is made of is the same sort of thing you’ll find on a haul bag, so you’re not going to have to worry about ripping like you do the thin fabric on your nice light Patagonia Ascentionist / Arcteryx FL / Mountain Equipment Tupilak. It’s ultra durable and waterproof too.

It is however really comfy! Coming in two back lengths you should be able to make it fit and it is designed to carry big loads with nicely padded shoulder straps and a mega hip belt – which is removable leaving a skinny webbing belt, which is what I’ve done.

It’s got a stiffened base so it stands up nicely making it easy to load up without falling over. Sounds like a minor point but my Ascentionist is a right pain, being almost impossible to keep upright. In terms of unpacking it’s flipping awesome having a full length side zip which is a feature I’ve never had on a pack before. The zips, like most elements of this pack are super chunky so I don’t think they’ll prove to be a weak point, I fear I’ll miss this feature when I use other packs from now on!black diamond creek 50

It has another side zip too which reveals a separate section which ideal for those other bits and pieces you don’t want floating around the main compartment, with a couple of smaller zipped pockets in there as well. A good place for wallet / phone / keys / theraband / snacks etc.

I bought the 50 litre and it’s massive which is exactly what I wanted. I was after a cragging bag to swallow all my kit without having to worry about what to leave behind or having to battle to fit things in, chuck it all in ropes and all, give it a shake, job done.

The top strap doubles as a rope strap, not that I envisage using it much and there’s also a little rain cover hood thing which again, I don’t expect to use, but it’s nice to have the option.

I’ve used this bag a bit already and I’m completely converted!

What I’ll use this bag for:
Cragging type work and play with short walk in’s, think Gogarth, crags in the Pass, slate quarries. Rock Climbing Instructor (RCI) courses

What I won’t use this for:
Anything where I’ll have to carry a pack on route, mountain days, Mountain Leader courses etc.

Retail: £140
Shop around: £110

Black Diamond also do smaller versions of this bag which could be good for you, be warned the 50 is a monster, but a monster I really like.

I shouldn’t get so excited by rock shoes but… well the whites are just flippin brilliant! When Five Ten discontinued these, there were some pretty unhappy people, there was even a Facebook group called “Five Ten – Bring back the Anasazi Whites!”. I loved them, they fitted my feet perfectly so that even fitting them quite tight I found them comfortable (I took size 11, compared to my street shoe size of 12).

Imagine my excitement when I heard that Five Ten were bringing them back! They were coming back last year, but the release date seemed to slip, I think partly due to a change or two that they made not being met with enthusiasm by their sponsored climbers. I’ve been delaying buying a new pair of shoes until they were re-released and so I was very happy to see my local store, V12 in Llanberis put a Facebook post up yesterday with a new delivery of Whites, boom! Perfect timing with a few slate routes on my to do list.

With a day on the slate planned, this morning’s first port of call was V12 to pick myself up a pair, turns out I wasn’t the first person to buy a pair either! They are pretty expensive, the RRP is £130, I think V12 are going to sell them for £115… Yesterday I’d been working on Slug Club Special E4 6a on the Seamstress Slab, so I thought this could be the perfect test for them.

five ten rock shoes

Might have an addiction…

The new Whites seem to fit exactly the same as the old ones and again I’ve gone for an 11. They are fairly narrow, very stiff (new design means they should stay stiff for longer) and the heel is pretty precise but like the old one, does pull into my Achilles tendon a bit – this softened up nicely on the last one so I expect these will do the same.

These shoes really do edge well, like amazingly well. My old ones are fairly rounded now and are a bit rounded on the edges these days, but I still love them on limestone sport and anything I want to be really precise on. But for now the new pair are going to be slate only shoes. I tried Slug Club in the older ones and the newer ones and was pleasantly surprised that the new pair were sticking really well to a couple of quite smeary holds that I thought they struggle with fresh out the box, as expected their edging performance was superb.

The only differences seem to be the eyelet rail construction, gone is the orange piping, they say the rail is welded on, whatever that means, the tongue seems to be made out of a really stretchy material and is nice and comfy and the laces are different (sad as this sounds that is a shame because the old ones were kind of ribbed(!) which made them stay done up well.

Did Slug Club go down? Well sort of. The moves are steady enough, but the first bit of gear – the spike at about 6 metres feels pretty high! So I, like many people I guess, did it with the spike of metal preclipped, I decided the risk of broken ankles wasn’t worth it and I don’t expect I’ll be rushing back, great fun all the same.

Five Ten Whites Review 2017

Happy face!

I always buy Five Ten shoes, they fit me well and the rubber is ace. Currently, as in the photo, I have:
Whites x 2
Velcros x 2, one for wall, one for trad
Hi Angles for bouldering and steep sport
Greens, quite knackered but great for smearing
Vertical Miles, old but comfy for work

Compared to:
Old Whites, virtually the same
Velcros (10.5), Whites much more precise fit, stiffer
Greens (11.5), similar fit, Whites have a far better heel, stiffer.

Whites then, they’re brilliant, buy some if you want a really precise, stiff shoe and you have a relatively narrow foot. They never seem to have held Steve McClure back…

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20th May 2015

My top five bits of kit for work, Jez Brown – Mountaineering Instructor.

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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1st December 2014

Redemption: The James Pearson Story from Hot Aches



I remember reading about James Pearson’s ascent of Walk of Life  back in 2008 on UK Climbing. It was probably the first time I’d really heard of him as I’m not a grit aficionado and the main thing that struck me, as it did most people, was the grade – E12 7a. The hardest trad route in the UK, maybe the world, that’s quite a claim. I read UKC quite a lot and remember the thread that went on and on in the aftermath, James was getting destroyed on that thread!

James is a top quality climber, no one sane would ever argue otherwise, since climbing hard routes on the grit and Walk of Life down in Devon he’s climbed all over the world ticking hard routes wherever he goes on both trad and sport. People slated him because of that grade. Was he a media whore, did sponsors pressure him into it or was his ego as big as hills balls?

I guess that’s where this film comes in. It’s the story of James Pearson’s climbing career so far, I say so far because this guys going to be climbing hard for years and years – there’s loads more to come for sure.

Hot Aches have a great history of creating quality films – Wideboyz, E11, The Long Hope route and Committed to name just some of them and they’re all brilliant. Having seen all of these and really enjoyed watching them I was psyched to watch this film as soon as I got somewhere with a decent internet connection for downloading it.

The basis of the film is an ongoing interview with James with loads of previous footage of him climbing his best known routes, starting on the grit with routes leading up to The Promise and The Groove before moving on to Walk of Life. James was understandably riding high after smashing out such top drawer routes before things started to go a bit awry, beginning with Team America quickly repeating and then down grading his grit routes before Dave Macleod down graded Walk of Life from E12 to E9 after a quick repeat as “tendon therapy”.


All the footage is really good as always with Hot Aches and the dialogue from James is interesting to hear as he discusses, very frankly his thoughts with the magic of hindsight and talks about about his private life too.

At the time of Walk of Life James tried doing Dave Macleod’s Rhapsody up at Dumbarton Rocks and blogged a bit about it, which only gave the UKC users more ammunition. To get closure on this part of his life, James travels back to the UK to get it done. This is the bit I was really looking forward to seeing. E11 was a great video, watching Dave work the route and taking that big fall over and over was pretty exciting. We get to hear from Dave on the film, as well as Jack Geldard, who talk about the story and give their views in the style of a Match of the Day analysis. 


After some interesting dialogue with James’ wife Caroline on the film, we get to see James getting on with Rhapsody. Again the footage is really good and there’s even a little cameo appearance at the crag by Dave himself.

I’ve mentioned how good the footage is, my disappointment on this front is that a lot of the footage isn’t new, yes it’s really good, but I’d seen a lot of it before. There’s some new footage of routes since James moved abroad and a bit of Caroline climbing too and all the footage of James on Rhapsody is new but the Rhapsody section was a bit shorter than I hoped. The only other thing I didn’t really get was why James was topless for the entire interview….

James comes across as a top guy, he’s very open and honest throughout, I think it’s fair to say he’s a very different person to the one who graded Walk of Life E12.

I’m glad I bought it, I’d watch it again, I’d recommend you watch it, but it I’d have liked to have seen a greater quantity of new footage.



To get yourself a copy: Hot Aches


To join the debates: UK Climbing


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