The Great Outdoors Magazine

I'm proud to anounce that Unexplored Scotland has been featured in the March 2015 edition of The Great Outdoors. I was asked for expert advise on climbing Ben Nevis in the winter and about some top tips on what to do. Unexplored Scotland also got mentioned later on about winter walking in the Assynt area.

More will follow in 2016 with some more expert advise. Watch this space.

Climbing Technology Nuptse Crampons Review

There seems to be a new player for climbing equipment on the market. Climbing Technology a company based in Italy has started throwing inexpensive climbing equipment on the market now making the big players almost look silly with their massive inflations. We thought of buying 2 pair of CT Nuptse Semi-Auto Crampons for this season and see how we get on with them.

First of all the price seems too good to be true. The RRP is £85 is already quite good but we got them for £65. If you compare that with Grivel, it would be only one pair of G12 for £135 RRP then. With the CT Nuptse crampons you also get a crampon bag which is another tenner or so for all other brands. Now money is not everything and you may think that they would fall apart like some of those crampons from Eastern Europe. Well, that's not really true, they have to comply with UIAA standards just like every other manufacturer or otherwise you wouldn't be able to buy them in shops in this country.

At first look they look a bit more funky with grey and orange, than the usual black and yellow. The material is certainly a bit cheaper than their rivals and the finish is not as slick. For example; Grivel crampons have antiball plates with riveted loops and hooks to fit them on crampons. The CT crampons have very basic plates with moulded loops for fitting. Even though they haven't come off yet it seems to me a slight flaw, which may come undone quicker than the more expensive type. However, this design of crampons doesn’t ball up as much as some of the steep ice technical crampons.

Fitting them on my old Scarpa Manta was a doddle which I would expect from Semi-Autos (C2) crampons. They fitted nice and snug and the adjustments are very similar to what you expect from Grivel crampons. Walking with them on neve snow is just as secure as with any other crampons. They hold up nicely on French, American, downhill and front pointing. The slightly shorted secondary front points mean that front-pointing on ice is a bit harder but then their main function is to just balance your crampons at the right position. The side points are good and adequate for any hillwalking and up to Grade II/III mixed climbing. Not once they were getting loose or shifted in position.

To take them off was very easy again. Just like all crampons now with double rings they have a wee strong to pull on to take them off.

Our verdict is most certainly, a thumbs up for the Climbing Technology Nuptse. They do everything you would expect from C2 Crampons. The 12 point design holds up to the standard and all the metal work is of good quality. The cost cutting can be seen in the antiball plate and the finish of some parts. The price certainly makes it a very inexpensive alternative to the usual suspects. They are more comparable with Grivel AirTec than G12 in design and use. We will certainly stick with them in future. They are more than adequate for client use and hillwalking in Scotland.

Winter Mountaineering Repair Kit

It can be quite handy to have a winter mountaineering repair kit or crampon repair kit. Just imagine you walk along on hard packed nevee snow and suddenly your crampons fall apart. What do you do now? Cry like a baby because you have to cut steps for the rest of the day or pull out a repair kit and fix it. I'm not trying to say that a repair kit can fix any proble with crampons. Once a Friend kicked a step with his crampons and hit a rock with the secondary front point, which in return just broke off. For some crampons it's no problem but they were C3 with the front bar attached to the breakage. The whole crampon fell off and dangled off his ankle. The only way he could continue the climb was by straping a sling around the crampon.

Here is the list of things you can carry with you for basic repairs on crampons.

  • 2.5mm allen key
  • 3mm allen key
  • 6mm spanner
  • Slection of cable ties
  • Selection of nuts and bolts (a lot of crampons come with spare nuts and bolts so use them)

River Kayaking Repair Kit

After years of paddling down river and figuring out what to have in your repair kit I started to get a good ballance (I think) of what you should have with you on the river to sort out most issues.

Here are all the bits listed in my kit starting at the top left and going clock-wise:

  • 900ml food container
  • Compact bike repair tool
  • Small pliers with pouch
  • Cable ties
  • Pocket blow torch
  • Cork
  • Penciles
  • Flash bang
  • Stanley knife
  • Ductape
  • Some hot glue sticks
  • Pruning saw

Somewhat more compact than a sea kayaking repair kit. The pruning saw and the ductape are not going into the box but into the dry bag. It certainly helps if you have a creek boat with a back hatch.

Sea Kayaking Repair Kit

Sometimes I get asked what to put in a repair kit. I have messed about with my repair kit for some time now and believe this is about as good a repair kit as anyone would need it. There is probably still some more to put in but I still haven’t found a way to fit a chainsaw or a JCB inside my kayak. I would advise to modify a repair kit to individual needs.

My repair kit consists of 2 boxes, a smaller 900ml day trip repair kit and a 2.0 litre expedition repair kit. On expeditions I always stick both boxes in my day hatch.

Day Trip Repair Kit (clock-wise)

  • Strong big bin liner
  • Bunge cord
  • 2 spring toggles
  • Flash bang
  • Thin strong cord
  • Cork
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small pliers
  • Cut-out plastic from a milk container
  • Zip ties
  • Bike repair tool kit
  • Pencil with some ductape wrapped around it
  • Pocket brow torch
  • Stanley knife
  • Sail tape
  • Fire lighter
  • 2 component epoxy
  • Grub screws
  • Zinc coated wire
  • Nuts and bolts

Additional to this a full roll of ductape and denso tape (nasty brown/green tape), which you get at any DIY store.

Expedition Repair Kit (clock-wise)

  • Gloves
  • Cut out from an aluminium juice can protected with ductape
  • White spirit
  • Pencil
  • Wooden stick for mixing
  • Different lengths of zip ties
  • Sand paper
  • Rough and fine saw blades
  • Cork
  • Tube for tent poles
  • Tub from film spool
  • Black witch
  • Heavy compact pliers
  • Fibreglass
  • Mixing tub
  • Superglue
  • Hardener
  • Resin

Additional to that it might be handy to have a skeg cable.