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Friday, 12 December 2014

Classic design

My Christmas policy is to do nothing until after my birthday early in December. I also admit to the arrival of winter when I awaken my Paramo Cascade waterproof/windproof trousers and jacket from their summer hibernation  - strange, are there any animals that hibernate in the summer?

Well, the birthday passed a few days ago and I did the Christmas cards and ordered a couple of pressies on line. On Wednesday evening I had need to go out to the garage and I felt like Scott trying to get to that last depot, and mindful of the Thursday walk with Pete next day I reckoned it was wakey-wakey time for the winter gear. Along with the aforementioned Paramo brand stuff, which is heading for classic status, there was one other all time favourite to be aroused which would count in my top ten list of global design classics.

In 1960, before setting off on a trip to Norway with Pete, I bought  myself a pair of Dachstein* mitts. I am not sure when this classic item first became available but they have stood the test of time in terms of practicality and durability (mine are still as functional as they were over fifty years ago).

We walked again in the vicinity of Simpson Ground (see my last post), keeping to tracks and reasonable surfaces, but there is a top of the world feeling here and we were blasted by fierce icy winds blowing themselves out after Wednesday night’s gales, and at one stage had a rare difficulty in the Lake District of finding a crossing for a swollen stream, but it was good to be out equipped with appropriate attire making the difference between hardship and smug comfort. 

Today I do the Christmas Tree.


Needlesports in Keswick are excellent suppliers with a good website giving advice based on their own knowledge of and participation in climbing and hill walking, beyond the usual manufacturer’s blurb. Their review and photo of Dachstein mitts tells all:

On the way to Simpson Ground - top of the world

Gnarly hawthorne

Presumably they didn't


John J said...

Many Happy Returns for t'other day!

The Crow said...

That's 'cause horses don't read English, or, at least, the last one through didn't!

Anonymous said...

And I thought some of my clothes were old! :)
Hope you enjoyed your birthday.

Phreerunner said...

Happy Birthday Conrad, albeit a little late.
I'm finding it difficult to keep up to date with my reading list at present but have just very much enjoyed catching up with your postings.
Hoping your leg gets better as quickly as possible, and perhaps we'll see you sometime soon.
All best wishes.

gimmer said...

how different is smug comfort from the merely snug?
is relativity involved - if others, less effectively-equipped at greater expense, perhaps, should be encountered, red nosed and frost fingered, would it be sympathy - or schadenfreude?
I've been driving a racing van on the national circuit recently and can vouch for the violence of the gusting wind.
Sounds fun you had, yes !

afootinthehills said...

Lynne and I also still have our Dachstein Mitts Conrad but unfortunately I cannot wear mine because of a dodgy finger. Our fifteen year old Cascada trousers are in use at this time of the year along with my original Aspira smock and Lynne's Cascada jacket, still going strong after fifteen years.

Needlesports is a cut above the rest in my view - a real climbing shop.

Hope your leg is continuing to improve and a belated Happy Birthday from us both.

Sir Hugh said...

John J - Thanks for 't good wishes.

The Crow - I never trust horses - can't tell what they're thinking like I can with dogs.


coastalwalker - Hi Ruth - I'm sure you've got a favourite item somewhere which will gradually become a practical keepsake. I was invited to daughter's (High Horse) for a meal, but she fell on ice in the middle of our village and wrecked her shoulder. My Thursday walking pal Pete and his wife heard of this and I was invited to dine with them - a most enjoyable evening.


Phreerunner - Good to hear from you Martin. Reading your blog I'm surprised you have time for reading at all. You seem to flit from country to country, county to county, and town to town like one of those neutrinos or whatever they are which can be in two places at the same time.


Gimmer - Sympathy or Schadenfreude?

I frequently encounter your “others”: perhaps in their mid twenties or early thirties recently enthusiastic for outdoor pursuits, embarked on a serious day walk, or backpacking, but apparently naive about weight and suitability of equipment carried, and with questionable judgement of their plans.

My own introduction started with Mother taking us on YHA cycling holidays when I was twelve, and then, importantly, being a Scout in an enterprising troop allowing us to explore with little restraint or regard for health and safety. Yes I did carry a Bergen rucksack weighing fifty pounds the four miles to the scout camping ground - lightweight equipment wasn’t available then, but I learnt all about pitching tents, estimating distances and times, using a map and compass properly, planning routes, sourcing suitable backpacking food, leaving minimal trace of one’s visit and protecting against adverse weather to mention a few of many other experiences and knowledge absorbed.

Most of the learning was self achieved in the outdoors along with interaction with my contemporaries, rather than from adult instruction. So, I suppose I did have an initiation period, but my learning was mainly practical, and ingrained by the time I was seventeen, taking me up to 1957. My main interest was in rock climbing until I was married in 1970, so I was not focused on long distance walking, and it was not until thirty years later in 1987 when I walked the Pennine Way that I took to backpacking. On that trip, I had little idea of lightweight equipment, which was still not generally available, but all my previous experience formed a sound basis for efficiently rattling off the route in twelve and a half days. I have since backpacked extensively and reckon I am now an old hand, and in that position of observing your “others” from my position of “smug comfort”.

Back to the “others” - they strike me as having gained  knowledge from reading popular magazine articles; "how to use a compass", "what to cook on a camping stove", "trekkers tips”, or having been on a course that was so inhibited by health and safety that the fear of God had been implanted at the thought of getting across a stream or walking in mist.

No, I do not experience schadenfreude. I just feel fortunate that I was given the opportunity to learn the ropes at an early age by practical experience, and a bit sorry for those who have been born into a mollycoddled age, relying on popular journalism, and not having had the fulfilment of using the raison d’etre of youth (learning), to learn the ways of the outdoors.


afootinthehills - Hi Gibson - I've just noticed your correct spelling of Cascada. I guess it probably means waterfall in Spanish?

Your comments show you identify well with my ramblings about the good old climbing days.

afootinthehills said...

Hi Conrad

Judging by your reply to Gimmer, our introduction to the hills and climbing vary only in the detail. My brother and his wife took me up Ben Cleuch in the Ochils when I was nine and that was it - I was hooked. In my early teens a teacher took me rock climbing and up Ben Nevis in winter conditions which would have the health and safety police, poor souls, up in arms today. After that I was on my own with other inexperienced friends learning above all perhaps, the importance of self-reliance in the hills.

Doesn't seem to be much of that philosophy around today in the walking community.