Despite the brevity (in distance travelled if not in time taken and energy spent) of yesterday’s Arrochar Alp-ing, a few gear things are worthy of note.
The Montane Extreme smock saw its first outing since last winter. I wore it over a 190weight Smartwool merino zipneck (I had the matching ¾ leggings on too) and for the first 100 metres of ascent I thought I’d made a terrible mistake as I just couldn’t dump the heat I was building up with all the zips wide open. But once I’d settled down and climbed a little higher, the smock really came into its own. It was angry cold at the top, and evil cold when the sun went down, but even at my cuppa-stop under a rock shelf the smock maintained a good equilibrium on my body, just by zipping up when I stopped I didn’t need to don any more layers other than a beanie hat. Later on when I did have to layer-up, it was the Beghaus Extrem Down Duvet that went on, and its “over the top of your other kit” cut was perfect over the Extreme, I’ll be twinning these two over winter. I was really taken by the Extreme Smock his time, a cracking fit on me, there’s just no fannying around when you wear it and as an alternative to the shell/mid/base it works much better for me than the Paramo style solution, same venting when you need it, but more insulation when you need it too. I’ll take the better all-round comfort and usability over a slightly slower moisture management.
Recent arrival, the Petzl Charlet Snowalker, put in some good service on its first outing. I used it classic in-the-uphill-hand style for a steep descent where it sat nicely in a gloved hand and I immediately found out that the stupid sliding wrist leash is more of a hindrance than a help and is being replaced before its next outing. The point slides in easy, and the weight is great, positive feeling without effort. I used it as a brake when glissading and it’s smooth, no snatching at all, even when I rolled onto my front a couple of times to test it’s braking properly. I feel immediately at home with the Snowalker, looks good.
On my back I carried a legend, a 1995 Karrimor Alpiniste 45+10. The original Fformat wired back stiffener has been replaced by a OMM Duomat and the pack is comfier than ever, and I really do believe the harness to be the most comfortable I’ve ever used. It’s simplicity itself, but there’s huge pockets and enough attachment points to stow your gear. What I really missed were bottle pockets and hip-fin pockets, they’ve become vital for me it seems. On a really steep section I was resting on my toes and fingertips on the ground in front of me and I really wanted a drink, but taking the pack off the get to a bottle would have been folly indeed. I didn’t attach any bottle pouches or pockets so I would see if I did miss the handiness, and that’s the point proved. I’ll have a bottle somewhere when I take it out next. Oh yeah, it’s back.
The Haglöfs Gryms were issue free, I didn’t want to risk my feet on any of the new boots just yet, the Fizan poles took a pair of Pacer snow-baskets very well, and much of the other kit was as well-used and familiar, that was nice.