Friday, 14 March 2014

RAB Women's Neutrino Jacket Review

The nice website shop has sent me a lovely new down jacket to review!

The excitement at finally having a functioning down jacket, after spending three months of this winter shivering in an ancient, empty jacket is hard to explain. This coat is probably everything I would ask for in a down jacket. I've been mainly using it as a belay jacket at spainsh sport crags, which whatever people tell you is not always a baking hot day! It's has been windy and overcast this winter so temperatures haven't really been getting very hot.

As a belay jacket, this coat has many great features. For a start, it has a 800 fill loft meaning that it is super warm, but not so puffy as to encumber movement. It has great big pockets for stuffing your hands in to keep them warm whilst waiting in between redpoints as well as room for hand and rope whilst belaying. It also has a handy inner pocket for a mobile or something that you are worried about getting cold. 

Making full use of the pockets on a chilly afternoon at Terradets

It has a nice big hood which will fit over a helmet, and a simple velcro adjustment system so that you can still look up whilst belaying.

Just move the strip of velcro down and you can look up

Probably my favourite feature is that fact that it has a super long length in the back, meaning that my bum stays warm when I'm belaying. You may think this is insignificant, but it is bloody amazing!

No-one likes a belayer with a cold bottom!

Although the zip is maybe a bit stiff,I like the double sided zippers so that you can poke your belay device out without having to hoik up the front of the coat and get a cold belly!

Double-ended zips so that you can poke your belay loop out

The fabric is really tough and hard wearing and has coped with being dragged through spiky spanish shrubbery, as well as surviving many a drizzle without becoming a sponge and ruining the loft (the water actually beading which suggests it will survive worse weather conditions as well).

It's worth bearing in mind that the sizing seemed relatively large,
so whilst I normally go for a size 12 jacket to fit thousands of clothes under, the size 10 was actually perfect, and on top of that it is so warm I didn't need as many clothes anymore!

Buy it here!

On top of my enthusiasm for the women's jacket, my boyfriend has the men's jacket so I can vouch for that being pretty fantastic as well! 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

And here are the pictures to accompany the previous blog post...

Christmas in Chulillia was hot and sunny

Jonny smashing some tufas at Sector Oasis

Bouldering in Albaracin

A beautiful sunny day at Siuranella Sud-Mac on an 8b that I forget the name of...

Hol crusing at Sector Espadelles in Margalef

Tickmarking the holds with blood for the next climber

Lots of Rosemary at the crag

Sorting out the van. We have two whole trad racks with us-not so useful at Margalef!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

A wet winter worldwide

I write this sitting in my nice cosy van, in the middle of a rainstorm in Margalef. Not quite ideal conditions.

I hear that it has been wet everywhere this winter, Wales, the Peak, Chamonix, and therefore I actually feel quite lucky to be blessed with days that in majority are not monsoon esque.

In other ways this winter has been rather successful so far as well. Last week I climbed my first 7c, a route called Follame ( apparently means 'fuck me', classy) at sector Espadellas Extension. I had quite the battle and fell seven times from the very very last mov, but all's well that ends well! 

We have been in Margalef for almost a month now, climbing mainly at the fantastic wall of Espadellas, a gorgeous pockety south facing crag. There is routes for everyone, from 5 to 9a and I feel like I am fast coming up to everything I can do without some siege style projecting! I've done some great routes though, and seem to generally be cruising along happily on 7a's.

The grades here came as a bit of a shock after Chulillia where we started, which either really suited my style or had very soft grades. It seems to just be getting popular as a destination, and rightly so! The setting is like a mini Rodellar, with the climbing on the sides of a gorge. There is everything from techy wall routes, to tufa mega routes. It was a great place to gain confidence at the start of the trio as everything is well bolted and friendly feeling.

We plan in spending another Two weeks here, then moving on up north to Terradets and other crags hopefully. Pictures will be coming soon I hope!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A successful summer...

So...the summer has drawn to a close, and the bad weather seems to be starting. Luckily in two months I will be off to Spain for the winter for some sending!

Overall I have had a pretty good summer. I've been working and saving a lot, so haven't got out as much as I would have liked to, but the days I have had have been pretty darn awesome!

My favourite area to climb in Chamonix has to be the Envers des Aguilles, it is amazing granite, amazing views, and being a good 3hrs walk in tends to put a few people off so is less busy than other places. On this trip, me and Jonny climbed a 25pitch 6a called 'Le soleil rendezvous avec la lune'. Originally we had intended to climb the Republique Bananiere, but changed our minds as we didn't really fancy loads of rapping in the dark. the route we did do was amazing, there was only one other party on the route, and we raced up the snowslope approach to be first on the route! The climbing was fantastic, here are some pictures to attest to that:

After arriving at the summit, we spent another 3hrs rapping down and finally re found our bivvy just as the night descended.

Another fantastic trip was to the Petit Portalet de Clocher. This seems to have been a trendy crag in Champnix over this summer, and lots of people seem to have headed over. We climbed 'esprit de choc', in our guide a 6c, in the modern topo 7a.  Thank god for that! I haven't pure crack climbed in a while and the extra grade was a commiseration for how hard I found it. Still, as it tends to be around here, the granite was top notch and we had an amazing day, despite Jonny having nightmares the night before about 'the cow that picks stuff up'. Crazy boy.

That one!

Ive also been doing a fair bit of sport climbing at a variety of venues, although my niggly shoulder injury is holding me back. Two recent trips to Finale ( amazing ice cream and coffee), the Aosta valley and local dragging have all provided plenty of exploring. Switzerland also provided two cool crags in the Spain esque Rawyl, and the bolted crack climbing venue of Medji. Crazy stuff!




Anyway I'm back to the UK next week, hoping to get a bit of good old British trad in amongst the rain showers and see lots of friends!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Osprey Kestrel 38l Review

Rucksack review: Osprey Kestrel 38

The first thing that you should know before reading this is that I am an avid rucksack collector. Not in a geeky way, but more of a 'I need one for every occasion' kind of way. I have a small pile of them in the corner of our apartment that my boyfriend despairs of and considers totally unnecessary.

I've used this bag for multi-pitch rock climbing, cragging, walking, alpine climbing, skiing and just wandering around town. It has proved itself to be very versatile and a good all rounder.

Osprey have a very good reputation when it comes to rucksacks and are many people's 'go to' brand. Their bags are always very well made and designed, and the Kestrel is no exception.

Heading down the Mer de Glace ladders, with rucksac in tow

The most important thing about a rucksack is that it is comfortable to wear. I really like the back systems on the osprey packs, as they are well ventilated, but haven't resorted to the 'trampoline' style ventilation which I consider to be a complete waste of space. The material that they have used to make the straps is really comfortable, and dosen't wear badly on bare, sweaty skin which is definitely a plus.

Holding out on a rainy day on Cnicht

The pack works well when completely full, and also when it has less contents as the compression straps reduce the volume really well. The waist strap also clips back into itself very tidily, something that I find essential when climbing. The bag itself is also quite narrow, so allows for a full range of movement with your arms. For trad climbing, I found that I could happily fit in my personal gear (harness, shoes, helmet etc), two half ropes, a couple of extra layers, lunch and water for the day with no problem for the approach and during the day shrunk down enough to climb VS multi-pitch happily. On the other hand, when not full, it is small enough that you can just use it as a day bag for wandering around town.

Everything above fitted in with space to spare

Some people hate a rucksack with accessories, but I don't see what the harm is! The side pockets on this rucksack fit a map or water bottle perfectly and don't eject them without warning when you aren't paying attention. The big front stretch pocket is great for stashing layers when you can't be bothered going down into the main body, as you know that you will want your jumper/coat/t-shirt again when it stops being warm/starts raining, or the sun disappears.

Outside pocket stuffed with a jumper, axe and walking pole stored down the side 

The bag itself seems fairly waterproof even before you bring in the rain cover, and is also made out of good durable material. Be careful about putting pointy things (Ice axe, walking poles) inside the side pockets, as they don't seem to be quite so harwearing.

Thats an ice axe and a whole baguette in the side straps this time!
I found that ice axes store best down the side straps with the head tucked under the hood of the bag, but they connect into the actual ice axe bits fairly well, without too much wobbling and potential for impaling peoples eyes.

On other small notes, for those people like me who think that a 38l pack doesn't need a sleeping bag compartment, it folds away nicely and you can forget it exists. For those who like it, the zips work fine and are accessible, but not too intrusive!

The 'stow-on-the-go' walking pole holder works well, however you definitely need to remember to collapse your poles first!

Overall, I think this is a great all round versatile bag. You can climb, ski, walk and put your swimming stuff in it for a quick trip out. For someone looking for something that does a bit of everything, this is probably what you are looking for!

 More serious mountaineers might want to check out the Osprey Mutant rucksack:

It is a little more streamlined for climbing with, and operates on a 'function only' basis, also thoroughly reccomended!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

So once again I have had a short(ish) trip back to the UK, and been told by my Mum that she requires more blog updating due to a lack of Facebook activity!

I haven't written anything recently as I spend last summer being rather busy with work, and then spent this winter just passed skiing. As I'm not a particularly good or adventurous skier so this doesn't seem worth of much note.

I have however definitely improved as a skier over the winter, done some cool ski tours, ticked winter IML training and spent far too much time not climbing with a shoulder injury. Anyway, the snow is starting to melt, the crags are getting drier, and my shoulder (touch wood) is feeling pretty good.

We had a short trip to Spain in February to visit some friends and to escape the Chamonix winter for a bit. I shocked myself by flashing a couple of 7a's basically off the couch which felt rather good and gives me relatively high hopes for the year coming. I spent alot of time at the end of last season working on climbing past bolts and falling off, which hopefully means that my climbing will come on leaps and bounds!

An update of my insignificant skiing achievements seems unnecessary so I'm going to add some picture/captions below to cover that section:
Jonny near the bottom of the Berad valley

An amazing day on the Aiguillette des Houches

Team shot at the train station

Ballsford coming down the Glacier Mort

The day the white out got a bit 'too scary'

Olivia and Jess at the bottom of the Magic forest

These past two weeks in the UK have been spent buying a new van to do up for a winter in Spain this winter coming. This is a generally stressful process and meant spending far too much time in Ikea and B&Q for my liking and I have spent this week recovering from the onslaught by climbing in a beautiful SUNNY North Wales! It was lovely to have a catch up and see lots of people who I miss when I am in Chamonix.
It snowed in Wales at some point!

Mum seconding up Tennis Shoe on Idwal Slabs

Anyway, it's back to Chamonix now for some summer crushing!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

So it turns out that as soon as you start working, loose internet, break a laptop and start living in a van it becomes alot more taxing to 'blog'. This would explain the reason as to why there have been no updates since October 21st last year...however, due to being back in the UK very briefly this weekend, aquiring a new laptop and being asked by multiple people to write something I am going to do a quick overview of what has been going on....

Rock climbing in Chamonix, an Indian summer

Sandra belaying on a beautiful autumnal afternoon
The snow arrives, I work loads but manage to get about 5 days out skiing before we leave in mid January. Christmas is spent on the slopes, and most of New Year sleeping!

Matt knee deep
Olivia at Brevent
Jan 18th, after a trip home to England we leave for Spain! Initially we were going to Morocco, but then had financial disasters and basically couldn't be bothered driving that far. We head straight to Siurana and climb there and Montsant for about a Month
Me and Jonny on the beach at Salou, waiting for a new cam belt on the van

Jonny on an 7c+ at Montsant
Jesus giving Jonny a quick belay at Montserrat
We finish up in Siurana, and about halfway throught the month my family visit in a huuuuuuuge camper van! We send some time in Montserrat and Barcelona with them, then head on upto the Lledia area. I lead my first 7a onsight and also manage to redpoint two 7a+s.

Family in the Parc Guell
Alpine bouldering in Targassone

March (so far):

Villanova de Meia, lots of rooves to
pull through!
Oliana-way hard!

We arrive in Oliana and everyone climbs hard, girls do 8c+s every day. I feel very punterish here and I am amazed at everyone else. I projected the warm up route (my first 7b), we also climbed at Tres Ponts and Perles. Also climbed at Terradets with loads of super strong people! Also a couple of days multipitching at Villanova de Meia.

Although progress is seeming slow, my confidence has improved dramatically and I am moving above bolts much better than i was previously. Redpointing seems really good for me as it removes some of my fear of the unknown and I hope to climb 7c before the trip is up.