Inspiration, Tips and Advice /
TOP GIFTS FOR THE MODERN MOUNTAINEER
With the approach of winter my thoughts naturally turn to my goals and expectations for the following year; crisp winter days in the early months spent walking and climbing in Glencoe or Snowdonia, a late spring trip to the Alps for some 4000m peaks and just possibly a trip to the greater ranges in the autumn.
My family and friends, however are understandably concerned about the inevitable question – what would be the ideal gift for the modern mountaineer?
Here are some handy gift suggestions for those who love to spend their time in the mountains…
BLACK DIAMOND EXPRESS ICE SCREW
When you need to place an ice screw, you need it done NOW! With a clean and simple design, a large colour-coded crank, and a tapered tube this screw is so quick to place. The beefy hangers are easy to clip and they rack far easier than most screws I’ve owned – this is a big one for me, no more shredded salopettes as they rack away from my pants. Although I’ll use a rack of varying sizes the 13cm stubby is by far my most used – perfect for those shorter placements on Scottish lines and great in Alpine water ice. The Black Diamond Express is the industry standard for a reason.
PETZL TIKKA RXP HEADTORCH
Bright enough for a 2am start from an Alpine Hut, to get me off the hill after dusk at the end of a long winter day or simply hanging out with friends at the campsite in the evening, the Petzl RXP has become my go-to headtorch for daily adventure. The reactive lighting system is simply awesome – a maximum brightness of 215 lumens that adjust in milliseconds to lower output when appropriate – no more fumbling with power settings when moving or using high power (and shortening battery life) when unnecessary. Ideal in the mountains, I also use this for trail running on dark evenings and the daily winter commute on my bike.
MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT COULOIR GLOVE
The hardworking glove for serious winter conditions – I’ve used a pair of these for a couple of years now and have found them to be the most durable pair of winter gloves I’ve owned. The cow-hide palms and fingers are supremely grippy and being Gore-Tex lined they are fully waterproof. While the fleece and fibre pile lining is soft against my skin, it has dried rapidly on the occasions when I have had to force a cold wet hand into them after another pair of gloves has soaked through. And that’s a good TIP – you have to carry more than one pair of gloves in the winter mountains (I often carry three pairs) so these will always be a well-received gift.
LA SPORTIVA TRANGO S EVO BOOT
Quite simply, these are THE boots for summer Alpine routes, winter walking in Snowdonia, glacier travel and probably the finest scrambling boots for year round use in Scotland, Wales or the Lake District.
I’m on my second pair, having worn out the first in five years of pretty regular use. They hold well on fine edges when scrambling, are fully waterproof due to the Gore-Tex liner, they are stiff enough to take a 10 point walking crampon for glacier travel and have a super sticky Mulaz sole that grips the rock when smearing. With all this they are still super comfortable after a long day in the hills.
PETZL ELIOS HELMET
Probably the most popular helmet in store for a reason – this helmet is affordable, comfortable enough that you can forget that you’re wearing it on a long mountain route and resilient thanks to the ABS shell. While some expanded polystyrene helmets are slightly lighter this is no heavyweight and I prefer to have the additional protection that the shell offers – particularly in winter when falling ice is the norm on belay. The headlight clips are easy to use and hold your lamp securely and the adjustable vents mean that it can be used throughout the year, being cool in the summer months and warm in winter.
HAGLOFS SCHIST PANTS
I have two pairs of these as they are my go-to pant for both summer and mild winter use. They have a casual jeans-like cut but are super stretchy with great articulation for climbing, have a great blend of breathability and water resistance for long days out on the hill and enough pockets to carry all my essentials. The integrated belt is particularly good – it’s low profile so very comfortable to use in conjunction with a climbing harness.
TIP – washing regularly with Nikwax Tech Wash keeps the DWR maintained, I have a pair that is over three years old and they still bead water when caught in a shower.
MERINO WOOL BUFF
The Buff is possibly one of the simplest and most useful items of outdoor gear – it’s a beanie in the summer, a neck warmer in the winter, a headband when running or a face shield on a winter cycle ride. The great thing about the merino version is that it’s a touch warmer during the winter months and wicks sweat away in warmer climes. The natural antimicrobial action of merino means it won’t be smelly when worn for days on end. Mine was a present several years ago and it’s always in my pack when heading into the hills.
GRIVEL MONTE ROSA CRAMPON
A great pair of crampons designed for anyone new to winter mountaineering and for people that don’t need a more technical set of spikes for climbing graded ice. Easily adaptable to almost any B1 boots due to the simplicity of the New Classic binding, they are quick to doff and don and the anti-balling plates reduce the likelihood of losing traction due to snow build-up, an essential safety issue in winter conditions.
DMM RAPTOR ICE AXE
This is a very adaptable axe for general mountaineering which can be upgraded at a later date to a more technical tool. The pick is a little more aggressive than some of the more basic axes so it’s capable of dealing with Alpine terrain as well as Scottish Winter conditions. It has a good swing with a gently curved shaft – T-rated for secure belays – that’ll allow a little extra clearance for your fingers when swinging into ice. The hot forged head allows sapping the pick out for those of the Fly axe for more challenging terrain and is very comfortable to hold in the hand – often under estimated when purchasing but quickly noticed on the hill.
BERGHAUS MERA PEAK JACKET
Ideal for everything from serious winter hillwalking to an evening trip walking the dog, the Mera Peak has been a popular Jacket in Berghaus’ range for several years which quietly evolves and improves. The current jacket has great articulation, an excellent hood which also stows away rapidly and comfortably and a superb pocket layout with a couple of easily accessible chest pockets and two handwarmer pockets. The reflective flashes are useful on a winter’s evening in an urban environment or walking home on dark country lanes.
EDELRID ORION CLIMBING HARNESS
One of the most comfortable harnesses I’ve worn with a wide belt on the waist distributing the load – essential on long winter belays. I’ve used this harness on regular trips to the climbing wall, multi-pitch trad climbing across the UK and winter climbing on the Ben. The adjustable leg loops allow me to layer up in cold conditions without affecting the fit or performance and I really appreciate the abrasion protector to ensure a long life-span despite regular indoor climbing sessions. Although there are only four gear loops there is more than enough room on them for a full rack. The addition of two ice-clipper slots allows me to rack my screws comfortably and extend its use to full winter conditions.
EXTREMITIES POWER STRETCH BANDED BEANIE
Lightweight and always in my pack – this is a simple bit of kit but absolutely essential on winter adventures. It is warm enough for those cold, early morning Alpine starts, sits snuggly under my helmet when climbing, feels warm when wet and is very quick drying. The fit is quite snug compared to many beanies, something I prefer as it combines comfortably with a hood or helmet. This is not a piece of gear I’d want to forget on a chilly day.
Mark Skeleton / Bath Store Manager
Mark works in our Bath store and is a regular climber and mountaineer, with many years experience in North Wales, Scotland and the Alps. He also enjoys backpacking, trail running and xc mountain bike racing. When not in the outdoors he’ll be found underwater where he teaches mixed gas and deep wreck diving in his spare time.