As part of Rab’s commitment to making the best clothing and equipment for the mountains, our product development programme is expanding to include a test team selected from members of Rab’s brand partner the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI).
Mountaineering Instructors based in various locations throughout the UK will put a selection of Rab gear through rigorous and extended use designed to test it to it’s limits. They will use their expertise and experience of the products to provide detailed feedback on Rab's clothing, equipment and technology.
The AMI is the representative body for professionally qualified mountaineering instructors in the UK and Ireland. Their members have undergone an intense assessment process to gain their qualifications and continue to maintain their professional development throughout their careers. Many of their members hold multiple qualifications and work in a variety of areas ranging from posts on local councils to leadership roles in global expeditions with ambitious objectives.
Just back from a short trip to the west coast of Scotland. We had ambitious plans but a real mixed bag of weather didn't quiet play ball. The first couple of days were focused on the Glencoe Skyline route looking at race lines and strategies. Curved Ridge and the Aonach Eagach were both bone dry and gave us a couple of brilliant days out in the sunshine. Monday morning saw us heading across the water to Ardumuchan looking for more scrambling on Garbh Beinn's Pinnacle Ridge. Super grippy rock and amazing rock architecture more than made up for a slightly disjointed line.
Heading north to the Isle of Skye the weather turned and we aborted our attempt on the Cuillin and Dubh Ridges entertaining oursleves with a run along the unworldly Trotternish Ridge. With perfect timing the cloud lifted to reveal a glorious sunset as we dropped down towards the Old Man of Stoer.
A busy few weeks of training, a good forecast and plenty of friends racing tempted me to enter the Rab Mini Mountain Marathon on the day. There was a light frost in Grasmere as we registered but this soon burnt back under a glorious sun. First day racing in shorts this summer and also incidently my first race as a Vet 40 :(
With a good spread of checkpoints as far out as the Langstrath valley there were plenty of options. We opted to stay high and enjoyed perfect running temperatures on our anticlockwise circuit of the competition area. A liitle more speed and we may have been tempted by by the cluster of high scoring checkpoints in the north west but in the event we timed it perfectly after a fast run back to Grasmere along the C2C path. Our reward was 250 points for 27th place and 2nd in the Mixed Vets!
It's a simple idea - 24 hours to get as many checkpoints as you can. For its second year the Marmot 24 moved north over the border to the Lowther Hills which provided a stunning but very tough landscape for this score event . This was to be my first oppurtunity to fully test my knee over 24 hours after the damage it sustained during my close encounter with a Greenland avalanche back in April.
Chasing the eventual winner of the 12 hour competition Chris Baynham-Hughes from the start I headed north looking for quick points. Chris was flying but a couple of minor navigation errors on his part kept him within reach for the first few checkpoints before we went our seperate ways. The weather was perfect but looking to the south I could see the rest of the course suffering under heavy rain. Course planner Gary Tompsett had done a great job and there were a huge number of route choices to be made, in fact I went 8 hours without seeing another competitor
An amazing sunset found me trotting through Wanlockhead, the highest village in Britian where I made the first of my big decisions. Recognising that I was running myself into a bit of a cul-de-sac which would limit my choices later in the event I opted to leave the three checkpoints in the far north west and commit to a big climb and some tricky nav to cross the range of hills to the east of Green Lowther. The big effort I'd put in during daylight hours had paid off earning me 200 points in the first twelve hours but it was obvious that things were going to become more tricky...
As the night wore on the temperature dropped sharply and at one point sucking on my hydration bladder I found ice forming in the bite valve. Wearing every layer I was carrying I was able to maintain some warmth while running but the sun was a long time coming. However it was worth waiting for with a stunning cloud inversion below dozens of slowly turning wind turbines
My second big choice of the event was whether to loop south around the main out of bounds area which gave the oppurtunity of a number of spread out checkpoints or to make a big effort to climb over Comb Law and access a cluster closer to the finish. I went with the latter climbing into the cloud for a couple of hours. Mid morning brought the return of the sunny weather and a couple of good navigation choices meant I cleared the area and was trotting back towards the finish with a lot of spare time. With only a few hundred meters to go I suddenly remembered an outlying checkpoint approximatly 3km beyong the finish which I thought might just about be achieviable before midday. It hurt but I managed it getting back with 8 minutes to spare for a total of 340 points and third place overall. Even more significant the knee was still in one piece so fingers crossed for the UTMB at the end of August
Not the sheep! but a bunch of enthusiastic doctors undertaking a weeks training in the Lake District with Expedition Medicine. The company provides worldwide medical training courses for medical professionals, wilderness medics and for individuals providing advanced medical coverage in remote areas.
The focus of the day was on the technical skills required to operate safely in the mountains in support of their extensive medical knowledge and closely followed the Summer Mountain Leader syllabus. We headed up onto the slopes and small crags of Bleaberry Fell above Borrowdale to look at the various options available to a leader on steep ground - coaching, spotting, supporting, confidence roping, pitching and abseiling.
Finally navigation focused on relating the map to the ground and the importance of scale as not all the maps they'll be using in the future are as detailed and accurate as Ordanance Survey.
the day concluded with a fascinating lecture by Dr Roger Alcock who has just returned from sierra leon as part of the NHS / UK Med response to the Ebola crisis