Thursday, December 30, 2010

DiY anti-balling plates

Today, kids, we're gonna be making our very own crampon anti-balling plates, mostly from rubbish.  These are the blobs of plastic that sit under your shoe spikes to stop wet snow coagulating on the sole of your boot, sending you sliding down the hill in a very not on purpose glissade.  Its the perfect bit of amateur Make Your Own Gear nonsense to do when you are still listless and reeling from that nasty flu which completely wiped out your christmas - which is just as well really.

First, collect your rubbish in a pile.  You'll also need cable ties, scissors, a hole punch, a permanent marker, and a moderately steady hand.  Have another slug at that medicinal tipple.

Hack away fairly briskly at the plastic stuff until it fits loosely in the gaps where your shoe sole would be.  You'll want to leave a bit of overlap so that the holes don't pull through, so don't be too precise, you aren't gonna see it after all.  Its best to use chunky thick ice cream tubs and not, as some suggest, milk bottles, as the latter will raise their hands in surrender at the first bit of mixed ground you may encounter NOW THAT ALL THE BLOODY SNOW HAS GONE.

Flip the crampon and mark where you want your holes to be.  I chose to make 4 holes for the front and 3 for the back, but you hill types are independent sorts, do as you will.

Now remove the plastic patch and use the hole punch to make a hole.  I assumed the plastic would resist the advances of a thing designed to make holes in paper, but it was not so, the plastic acquiesced without so much as a candlelit dinner. 

Now use the mini cable ties you stole from work to attach the patch to the crampon.  I love cable ties, they are great things to take on a longer trip too, good for repairs.

Trim those puppies, et voila!  You just avoided watching an hour of televisual misinformation, and saved yourself £15 odd.  For the weight conscious, there's a small saving of about 15-20gms.  Admittedly these aren't those fancy Grivel rubbery pop out ones, but you could experiment with using a bit of curved edge of a tub to see if you can replicate that in some way.  I tried, but the ties pulled out the curve.

There's something really lovely and ever so slightly perverse about attaching junk you would normally discard, to perfectly shiny new equipment, and hopefully these will send all the Arc'teryx wearing poseurs running to their champagne saunas in faux terror, leaving more hill for us.  Or else they might just break on the first day.  We'll see.

Ice Axe Modifications

Preparations for our week in Scotland - I really hope it hasn't ALL thawed. 

After hemorrhaging much cash in the last month, I decided I could live without plastic pick, adze and spike covers, priced at £8 a set (and bound to get lost on a hill somewhere).  I made these ones out of christmas wrapping paper cardboard inners, and gaffer tape.  They'll protect our kit when the axe is in the bag for the train journey.  When we're up there, the axe can sit on the side of the pack, or will be in use.  The bit of rubber band hold the two covers together, and is stuck down with white gaffer, which in turn can be used to cover the adze when we are doing our practice self arrests.

Here's a leash I 'made' out of some old sleeping bag sack webbing that had broken off.

Here's the spike, with some 'skateboard tape' stuck on for grip.  The BD raven pro doesn't come with a grip, which is better for using the axe as a walking stick, but I thought a little extra grippyness wouldn't hurt.  

I got about a foots worth, for the grand total of £1, from my local bike/skate co-op.  They were so nice about it, that they deserve a mention.  If you live in London, and cycle or skate, use Brixton Cycles.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays

Darn this infernal machine, blogger just ate my text.  It went something like the next paragraph, but it was longer, and a bit funnier:

The close of the year has been a squeeze, work at terminal velocity and my other half being made redundant in a flurry of poor management and waste. 'Management', now there's an oxymoron 9 times out of 10 - whatever will they think of next.  So our planned getaway has come in the nick of time, I hope.  In the New Year, we're off to the Cairngorms, to do a short winter skills course at Glenmore Lodge, some walking and maybe a bit of a wild camp around to Loch Avon and back if we're feeling brave.  It'll be our first time in Scottish winter conditions so we'll see what the weather has in store.  We've been shopping for BD raven pro axes, Kahtoola KTS crampons, even Rab Hispar gaiters (which we've resisted up to now), and borrowed some ski things from a relative, so plenty to learn from and look at in the coming months.   I'm getting nervous about the night time temperatures and am not sure if our set up is warm enough to stay out up there - it'll be something Heath Robinson with silver foil blankets and a few mats, and we haven't got our snowholing badge as yet!  I could go on about what I'm planning in more detail but I can't face typing that bit again.  I'll try and make a proper list and review it after we get back.

But hang on, its the festive season here in Kola County.  I nearly forgot to wish you all a very happy holiday.  I'm raising a prayer flag to every one of you, as a believer in all faiths but no religions, and I wish you all health and happiness.  I need not wish you wealth because wealth is immaterial, and physical life is temporary.  Besides, with the amount of kit we've all got between us...?!

Lets enjoy what we have, whilst we have it.  And here's to many more amazing, life affirming and life changing walks in 2011.  Thanks for reading, and to the other bloggers reading this - thank you for sharing your inspiration and information.  ''If this ain't fun, I don't know what is''.

Mount Kailas, house of Shiva, holy mountain and source of the three great rivers of Tibet, the Indus, the Yarlung-Tsangpo and the Sutlej rivers, the biggest water tower in the world.  Image courtesy of

Sunday, December 19, 2010

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