Category Archives: General

Stance Backcountry Socks – Review

Start from the bottom up! That old saying “a house is only as good as the foundations” might not seem appropriate to skiing; but have you given your sock choice much thought recently?

Here in Colorado many of the mountain resorts have stopped the gondola wheels spinning, because Spring has sprung. For some of us the need for gondolas and chair lifts has long been gone, the deep powder days have come to an end, and the desire for ski touring has been getting stronger by the day. With clear skies, and an ever settling snow pack, the long days in the skin tracks are become a daily ritual – 4am trail head starts by head lamp and t-shirt hikes out; are how we spend the days.


With clear skies, and an ever settling snow pack, the long days in the skin tracks are become a daily ritual. Photograph Joe

With the Spring sun the days might start cold, but they soon warm up. And as for all the great things ski boots bring to the slopes, breathability certainly isn’t one of them. Consequently I was pretty excited to try out Stance’s new super light weight, super breathable Backountry Ultra-Light Sock, and see what they could do for my feet. Out of the pack these socks feel light and thin, very thin, and initially I thought Stance might have gone to far – and it would feel like I was putting my bare foot into my ski boot. That being said, and “you don’t know until you try”, I pulled them on and took them for a test on my pre-work skin up Vail Mountain. Straight away any concerns disappeared; because my feet felt great, and comfortable, in my Dalbello Lupo boots. My feet stayed warm, the arch support hugged my foot, and the gradual compression kept my legs feeling fresh – although I hope that was partly down to my fitness, not just the socks!

With the initial test out of the way, it was time to really put the socks through their paces. The planned route would be a twelve mile round trip, gaining a vertical height of 1400m (4600ft), and descending the south couloir of East Partner in the Gore Range, Colorado. Again, starting by headlamp in the early hours of the morning, the socks preformed excellently keeping my feet warm and comfortable for the first few miles of hiking. Once on the skis, and skins, everything still felt great. The thin slight compression-nature of the sock gives a great feeling that your foot is well held, and not moving around inside the sock or boot. The temperature regulation was good, which became more evident the longer the day went on and everything started to warm up. I have previously felt that once my feet get hot the socks can rub and create sores; this was not the case and I felt great all the way up and down. The trip, with its varied terrain, was more like an alpine ascent to the summit – including skinning, boot packing, and ice climbing in crampons – which took approximately eight hours; and I can truly say it’s the most comfortable my feet have felt all season. Don’t get me wrong I was super happy to get my ski boots off at the end!


The trip, with its varied terrain, was more like an alpine ascent to the summit – including skinning, boot packing, and ice climbing in crampons – which took approximately eight hours. Photograph Joe

Stance has produced a full range of ‘360 Feel’ snow socks ranging from ‘All Mountain’ poly blend to the performance driven ‘Backcountry Ultra-Light’ merino wool blend. Whichever category you put yourself in I’m confident you will not be disappointed; and I’d seriously recommended heading to the Pro Shop, and checking out their Stance range of ski and snowboard socks, ready to dial in your ski kit for next season.

Please note for the 2019/2020 season the Stance sock range will be called, for either ski or snowboard: Performance, Merino Blend, and Ultra-Light
Merino Blend.

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Smith Optics I/OX Snow Goggles Review

It’s been almost two years since the beautiful partnership with my Smith’s sunglasses began and I couldn’t have asked for a better pair. We’ve been all over the world together from the likes of far East Asia to the busy bustling cities of Europe. 

However, as great as my sunnies are, they’re no match for alpine skiing conditions, which is why I’ve upgraded to the big guns. Tallington Lakes were kind enough to let me test out a pair of Smith I/OX snow goggles as I embarked on my adventure to the French Alps. When I first opened the box a bright smile was looking back at me, it was my own reflection cast from the pristine conditioned ‘ChromaPop’ lenses.

I’ve been skiing now for the best part of twenty years and I’ll be honest, I’ve never really invested too much into my snow goggles. Comparing my old pair to these I/OX goggles, it’s clear to see there’s no competition. It’s like trading in your old banger of a car, that’s just about managed to get you from point A to point B; for a souped up, all singing, all dancing teched out super car!

If I knew it wasn’t impossible, I would have placed a bet that Tallington Lakes had rigged the weather system in order to really allow me to test these goggles. In the one week I was there, I encountered harsh snow blizzards, gale force winds, torrential rain, depressingly overcast to extreme dazzling sunshine without a cloud in sight.

These I/OX goggles come equipped with two different lenses in order to combat the diverse weather you can clearly come across whilst in the mountains. Do not fear though, unlike other interchangeable lenses where it feels as if you are solving a rubix cube for hours, the lens swapping process here is very straight forward.

The first lens provided is the ‘ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror’ with a VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) of 13%. In English, it means only 13% of light passes through the lens. 13%?! I’ll do the maths for you, that means your eyes are shielded against a whopping 87% of all light particles trying to shine through. You will be correct in thinking, that’s an astronomical amount of light being blocked – however what you need to realise, is the UV rays from the sun are more powerful when you’re stood on top of a mountain. Those rays are then reflected from the snow which create the super annoying blinding-glare effect. Therefore a 13% VLT rating truly is a remarkable feat and not only does it work, it works brilliantly. I never once felt myself squinting from the sun glare. The goggles allowed me to easily pick out my turns in order to avoid the treacherous trees and murderous moguls.


The first lens provided is the ‘ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror’ with a VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) of 13%.

For extreme low light conditions, such as the total white out blizzard I unfortunately ended up in, Smith have designed the ‘ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash’ with a VLT rating of 50%. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to ski in a white out, you will remember the dreaded feeling of being lost, lonely and confused as you vision becomes extremely impaired. You’ll remember trying to pick out those piste pole markers you took for granted as you attempt to safely escape the mountain – the skiers and snowboarders who were only a few feet away completely disappear and all you end up saying on repeat is “I can’t see a thing in these goggles”. Sound familiar?

Without those low light lens on, I think I’d still be stuck on that mountain top.

An important issue with snow goggles is the potential fogging up of the lenses. This can be due to a number of different reasons from the change in air temperature to difference in altitude to simply the hot panting breath you produce when working your legs overtime to get those turns in.

Thankfully Smith have countered all these problems by installing an incredible feature called the ‘AirEvac’. It allows for a constant air flow in order to reduce the risk of foggy goggles. On top of this amazing feature, the Smith lenses are equipped with 5x anti-fog inner lenses which provide five times the fog absorption compared to anything else on the market!

I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold so I always wear my neck-warmer around my face and over my nose to stay warm. Therefore every time I breathe out, the hot air rises and attempts to pierce through my goggles defences. If I were in my ‘old banger’ goggles I surely would have fogged up and skied off a cliff. These goggles didn’t even slightly fog up once during my entire week!  

The extra-large spherical lens of the I/OX allows unparalleled peripheral vision which is absolutely vital when you’re skiing on a busy slope surrounded by potential collisions.

To top everything off, the goggles are perfectly designed to fit comfortably on your face whilst attaching easily to the back of your helmet.

With the weather forecast ahead still predicting a huge amount of snow this season, it’s not too late to book another ski adventure. I cannot recommend these ski goggles enough – imagine a ski holiday in ultra coloured HD, it’s there and yours for the taking!

Check out our selection of Smith Optics snow goggles, here.

Adam (Ski Instructor and Water Ski/Wakeboard Boat Driver))

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Picture Organic Clothing Welcome Snow Jacket and Pant Review

The Picture Welcome Snow Jacket and Pant are designed for those wanting the best technical features with the lightest possible performance. Ideal for ski tourers and free-riders this is the ultimate technical outerwear for ups and downs.

Picture Organic Clothing have grown from strength to strength in the 10 years since their inception. At their humble beginnings the company was the idea of three friends who wanted to make technical mountain wear with a strong eco-friendly ethos. Now they are at the forefront of organic and eco-friendly apparel in both the mountains and oceans.

Welcome Snow Jacket

The Welcome Snow Jacket is at the upper end of the range and hosts a wide array of technical features. The jacket is a 20K/15K shell with fully taped seams keeping you dry all day no matter what the mountain throws at you.  The shell is designed to go hand in hand with mid layers and the breathability means you will be able to control your temperature on the climbs too. Both the jacket and pant have large vent systems to further assist keeping you cool on those Spring ascents.


The Welcome jacket is designed to go hand in hand with mid layers and the breathability means you will be able to control your temperature on the climbs too.

The hood  for the jacket is helmet compatible and also has an adjustable 3D construction. This means that when you move so does your hood, a simple but great feature giving you better peripheral vision on the slopes.

The jacket comes with a detachable snow skirt and hand gaiters with adjustable cuffs. This means that when the best powder day of the season arrives you don’t have to worry about snow getting to your base layers and concentrate more on those rooster tail turns! The detach ability of the skirt is ideal for those trying to keep the weight down on multi day tours.

The design of the jacket is sharp with a performance fit. For those of you who have spent any time in the alps will be familiar with Pictures contemporary designs and bold colour ways. All zips are YKK, and come with a lifetime guarantee.

Welcome Snow Pant

The snow pant is made from the same, aptly named, DryPlay material and fully taped seams. One of the unique and highly functional features in the pant is Picture’s patented I-Fit system. Essentially a draw cord in your pocket that will allow you to adjust the height of your boot cuff. This is both handy when using crampons to protect the bottom of your pant or dancing on tables at Apres!

Eco-Friendly

So that’s the performance features but what exactly does eco-friendly technical outerwear mean. Well Picture Organic Clothing strive to minimise the impact their clothes are having on the environment and here is how. The majority of the shell is made up from recycled polyester, which results in a large men’s jacket consisting roughly of 50 recycled bottles. If this isn’t enough Picture have invested heavily in developing a biodegradable water repellency across their whole line. Traditional DWRs (Durable Water Repellency) consist of contaminants such as PFC’s which when washed off your jacket stay in the environment and pollute the whole water system. There have been some terrible findings in water around some of the biggest ski resorts due to DWR’s washing off of outerwear. Picture’s new DWR Eco-Elite is totally biodegradable so after a greats days riding your conscience can rest knowing you haven’t had a negative impact on the environment.

I have been using the Welcome technical outerwear for the 2019 season and it has been highly adaptable in a variety of condition. From the powder days in January to one of the warmest February’s I can remember. It is definitely a great suit for those looking for the higher end technical features and performance whilst maintaining fantastic environmental principals.

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Skins DNAmic Base-Layer Review

If you haven’t read our article about base-layers; you can read it here.

If you have read it; you’ll know how important your first layer of clothing is, in maintaining your core-body temperature, while skiing or snowboarding in the mountains.

However, what about ‘compression’ base-layers? I think most of us have heard about the benefits of ‘compression’ clothing:

  • Reduce injury by keeping muscles warm
  • Improved blood flow
  • Stabilising joints
  • Aid recovery from muscle stiffness and soreness

And we’ve seen athletes using them, even people on long-haul flights wearing them, but are they any good for skiing or snowboarding?

This winter I tried some ‘compression’ base-layers from Skins, both the Skins DNAmic long sleeve base-layer and three-quarter tights. I chose the three-quarter tights, over long-johns, because these would not affect the fit of my ski boots – less crease points! I have invested in quality socks and a custom boot fit, so why would I add another layer inside my boot to mess things up?

First thing first; these are ‘compression’ garments – so they are a very snug fit, if not a little difficult to get on. At first you could feel the ‘tightness’ or ‘support’ the garment gives you – it felt quite good, ‘superhero-like’!

I donned my other layers, and quickly headed out into the cold, because I was starting to get hot in the chalet.

As a base-layer they did their job; keeping me at a comfortable temperature all-day long. Moisture (sweat) generated on the exhilarating decent was wicked away, helping maintain a warm core-body temperature on the cold chairlift ascent. Early morning ski touring was cosy, without overheating.


Skins Womens DNAmic Thermal Mock Neck Half Zip Baselayer

As the days, and week of skiing, progressed I was pleased with my fitness/endurance. Yes I had prepared for the holiday, by going to the gym beforehand; but I do believe the ‘compression’ of my leg muscles, by the three-quarter tights, had made a difference. Also, after a few stretches and enjoying tea and cakes, sitting around in the ‘compression’ tights helped recovery for the following day’s skiing. I generally suffer with lower back pain; but once again because my hamstrings, glutes etc were ‘supported’ this was eased too.

As for the torso; I felt more stable. Yes I had done some core exercises at the gym, but once again the garment assisted.

So, what about ‘compression’ base-layers? I think they are good, and as a quinquagenarian I will certainly wear them (especially the three-quarter tights) when skiing.

PS The wearing of ‘compression’ clothing does NOT negate the need for exercise/fitness training for your chosen sport!

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Seasonaire – Off To Work In The Mountains

Thinking of doing a ski/snowboard season this winter? Or have already signed up and getting super excited? This article will give you everything you need to know to help make the most of your time on the slopes. 

Firstly ski seasons are for everyone, not just for experienced skiers. Whether you ski, snowboard or are completely new to snowy mountain sports, there is truly something for everyone. In resort there are endless ways to fill your free time, as well as skiing and snowboarding. Activities range from husky rides to paragliding; or wining and dining in town to simply catching some rays in a deck chair. Being surrounded by like minded people and stunning mountain views, you will be hooked to seasonaire life in no time. 

Wondering what to take? Here is a winter season checklist with all the essentials you’ll need…

Technical Clothing

When planning a trip to the mountains for a whole winter it is essential to have the right gear. Getting cold or wet on the slopes can easily turn a super fun day into a shivering nightmare. So if you are going to spend money on only one thing I would definitely suggest treating yourself to some good technical outerwear. To keep yourself dry, it’s a good idea to buy snow jacket and pants which are minimum 10k waterproof and breathability. 20k is preferable to guarantee yourself a dry day even in really wet conditions, but this higher tech gear will no doubt have a higher price point. Keeping warm is also a necessity for mountain life. For this you can buy a highly insulated jacket and be super toasty year round. Although, the potential down side to only having a thick jacket is you could be too hot and sweaty riding in spring. For many seasonaires with limited funds, buying multiple jackets for different temperatures is not often an option. Therefore if you buy a thinner jacket you have the option to layer up in the depths of winter (mid layers and down jackets are great for this) or simply wear a t-shirt/baselayer underneath for warm spring days. This type of jacket will also be more suitable for when you are back in the UK, giving you more use out of it, therefore better value for money.

There are many snow brands which do great outerwear. A standout brand is Picture Organic Clothing. They have something for everyone, whether you ski or snowboard. Their bold asymmetrical designs perfectly match mountain life, their most technical wear ‘Expedition Line’ is mostly 20k waterproof and breathability, and more importantly they are eco-friendly. Incredibly their entire range is made from a minimum of 50% recycled plastic bottles, they have a mid layer which is completely biodegrable and all of their products are PFC free. They also have an ‘Adventure Line’ which has a lower price point and is perfectly suited for seasonaire life, with a more streetwear design. What more could you ask for?

Ski and Snowboard Boots 

After buying good technical wear, boots are definitely the next thing to consider. Comfort whilst riding is vital to get maximum enjoyment out of your day. There is nothing worse than having to cut your day short due to being in pain from poorly fitting boots. Snowboarders tend to have less problems with this, but it is a known issue with skiers. When buying boots, comfort and a good fit should definitely be priority over colour and style. But with many brands making different sizes and styles you should easily be able to find the perfect boots for you; however we suggest going to a proper boot fitter. Also the bonus of buying your own is most shops will do custom refits if the boots become uncomfortable. Plus you won’t have to wear some old stinky rentals. 

Skis and Snowboard

When you have the potential to ski or snowboard most days of the week for five whole months, having your own equipment is a huge bonus. By working with knowledgable shop staff before you leave for the mountains you can find a ski or snowboard to suit your own personal needs. Whether that’s park riding, backcountry skiing, shredding powder or if you want something that’s perfect for carving on the pistes. Having good equipment can really help improve your skills, style and even take you to new places. If you are unsure what exactly you want, a good all-mountain variant will take you comfortably off-piste, in the park and glide nicely on groomed pistes.

If you do buy your own skis/board my advice would be to get a ski lock, especially in bigger more well-known resorts, theft unfortunately isn’t unheard of. 

Helmet Goggles and Gloves

Helmets are not just for kids. Helmets are obviously for safety and designed for everyone of all ages and abilities. Further benefits include keeping your head dry and warm. Also for cruising at speed, helmets are a more secure option rather than losing your bobble hat in the wind. The good news, as well, is helmets have become more fashionable with new google-helmet style combinations. 

Goggles are essential if you want to ski or snowboard in all conditions. Most come with changeable lens to adapt for low-light snowy days and bright sunny days. It’s worth spending a bit more on a good pair to avoid misting up. A good tip is to try on your goggles and helmet together in the shop before purchase, as with all the different shapes and sizes around, its good to see if they fit or look good together. 

A good quality pair of gloves or mitts again is a must. To keep going until the chairlift closes you will need warm and dry fingers. Mitts tend to be warmer if you are a cold person and gloves tend to have more dexterity. For snowboarders who tend to touch the snow a lot, highly waterproof gloves will be your friend. 

Other Essentials

Specifically designed ski snowboard socks are where it’s at. They may seem pricey at times but a cotton sock will be round your ankles in no time and blisters are no fun at all. For something you will wear everyday you will definitely get your money’s worth.

Baselayers are great for wicking moisture away from the skin, to the outer clothing, to help keep you warm and dry. Its the foundation of the essential layering system that will keep you warm, comfortable and dry on the mountain.

Durable Water Repellent (DWR) hoody. Great for park riding on sunny Spring days, the coating make them water-resistant (or hydrophobic). And you’ll look cool!

A sensible pair of footwear will be your everyday friend for town life i.e waterproof with good grip.

A beanie or bobble hat again will be an everyday item for walking between pubs or for lunch stops on the slopes.

When you are not wearing goggles you should be wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes (snowblindness is a real thing!).

Lastly you will want decent bags for all your gear. Ski snowboard bags with wheels are great for convenience but remember they add a lot of weight if you are ever thinking of taking them on a plane. They are also more bulky so will take up more space in your staff accommodation (which are not always the most spacious rooms). Dakine bags are perfect.

There are specialist items to think about. If you’re thinking lots of park time, some additional protection such as pads or back protectors; and if yo’re thinking back country avalanche kit – but know how to use it because its useless otherwise. We recommend attending practice courses!

Now is the time to get excited with winter on our doorstep!

So head to a professional ski snowboard shop, make sure to try on all the gear and get a feel for comfort and size. Remember to think practical as well as style. Then you will be well on your way to an incredible winter season.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Helly Hansen Lifa Active Light T-Shirt Review

As an passionate coffee drinker, and I mean espresso machine, cafetiere, moka pot etc – not insta.. (sorry can’t bring myself to type the word), I was intrigued to hear that Helly Hansen were adding coffee to their garments!

Personally I’ve used coffee grounds, from the spent puck of the portafilter, on my garden as a mulch. And I have heard, you can use coffee grounds to neutralise orders. But clothing? Consequently I spoke to Helly Hansen; and they kindly enlightend me about the use of used coffee grounds in clothing, and gave me a garment to try, so I shall enlighten you.

The technical stuff! This garment uses S.Cafe yarn; and this is where the used coffee grounds come into play. A process enables the used coffee grounds to be embedded in the yarn; giving the yarn the following characteristics:

  • Odour Control. We knew that; and because the grounds are embedded in the yarn they do not wash out.
  • UV Protection. Didn’t know that! The numerous microscopic pores help reflect UV rays; giving UV protection.
  • Moister wicking. The garment moves moisture away from the skin to the outer surface of the fabric for faster drying process.

Helly Hansen Lifa Active Light T-Shirt

So what’s it like to wear? I was fortunate to be given a HH Lifa Active Light t-shirt to try; which is made from Helly Hansen’s legendary Lifa hydrophobic fibre and S.Cafe yarn. It’s categoriesed under ‘base-layer’ however I was going to wear it as a t-shirt. Consequently, it was an athletic, slim, snug, or some may say tight fit; because base-layers work best when they are touching the skin they are trying to wick moisture away from. I’m normally a size large, and the large was a comfortable ‘athletic’ fit – you may want to go up a size for a relax/baggy fit. I think the flat-lock seams and stretch, of the fabric, made the ‘athletic fit’ comfortable to wear; the crew neck was good and it was long in the body. It was a good fit for me! However, the first thing I noticed, putting the t-shirt on, was it felt cool! I don’t know if this was psychological, because Helly Hansen had said it would feel cool, but I did genuinely feel a little cooler when I first put the t-shirt on.

trad climbing derbyshire
The t-shirt performed well; even on the crux of the climbs I felt cool and the garment nonrestrictive – I was very impressed.

The recent hot weather presented idea testing conditions; so off I went climbing in the Derbyshire Peak District. The t-shirt performed well; even on the crux of the climbs I felt cool and the garment nonrestrictive – I was very impressed. The day’s climbing was in and out of the sun, so difficult to evaluate the UV protection, but I didn’t burn. However, I do know of some who have burnt their shoulders, because the garment they were wearing didn’t provide any UV protection, so it’s worth considering.

By the end of the day I had a good few routes in the bag, including a higher grade lead for me, so I was pleased with myself. But what did I smell like, after an arduous day at the crags? Not too good, I’m afraid to report. Now, how much you stink is subjective (“one man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri”, said the Grinch). So I didn’t smell fresh; but had I not been wearing this t-shirt I could have smelt worse, or perhaps I just need a ‘stronger roast’ coffee in my S.Cafe yarn!

belaying climber derbyshire
So I didn’t smell fresh; but had I not been wearing this t-shirt I could have smelt worse, or perhaps I just need a ‘stronger roast’ in my S.Cafe yarn!

Overall as an active t-shirt I was suitably impressed, and at £29.99 good value for money because it can be used as a summer t-shirt and a winter base-layer. This S.Cafe t-shirt, and other garments, will be available from Helly Hansen summer 2019.

Tallington Lakes Pro Shop has a large selection of men’s and women’s clothing from Helly Hansen!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

O’Neill Women’s Re-Issue Black White Swimwear Review

Recently I purchased the O’Neill Re-Issue black and white bikini set; and I’m absolutely in love!  Inspired by 90’s swimwear, the high waist and high fit leg made for an awesome design, and the chunky stripes are fun and funky!

This bikini top and pants (sold separately) features O’Neill’s Hyperdry, a  DWR (Durable Water Repellency) coating to the fabric which speeds up dry time – hence ‘hyper-dry’, and a polyamide and elastane mix makes the fabric extra soft. The top has a snug fit which meant it was quite supportive; although the straps are quite thick – which isn’t usually the style I’d go for.  I loved the snug fit of the pants.

Both the supportive top and snug fit pants made me think they would be good for wakeboarding, so I tried them out. And, yes, the top was very supportive, and comfortable, underneath my impact vest.  The snug fit of the pants were great, too, because it meant that I wasn’t worried if I fell over. The neon logo at the back matched perfectly with my Glidesoul impact vest, too, sooo happy!

So if this retro swimwear ‘tickles ones fancy’ why not pop to the Pro Shop and check out this and other swimwear we have to offer!

Charlotte (Ski and Climbing Instructor)Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Protest Women’s Surf Legging Review

With the long withstanding heat wave that has hit the UK in May, and hasn’t left since, the idea of wearing a wetsuit for an after work wakeboarding sessions sounds like my idea of torture, to me!

Wearing just bikini bottoms is just a little bit too risqué for my liking, and I always find it hard to find shorts that fit me right, that’s when the ‘surf leggings’ seemed like the ideal solution.

Protest Surf Leggings

The first thing that caught my eye with these Protest surf leggings was the unmistakably loud pattern. Normally I would shy away from such a bold pattern on my lower half, as I have been cursed with stumpy legs, however because of the block of black on the thighs – it offers a flattering look.

The leggings are extremely comfortable; and thanks to the Elastane nonrestrictive.

protest surf leggings
The block of black on the thighs of these Protest Surf Leggings offers a flattering look.

Another added bonus, for all the fair skinned gals out there, is these leggings come with SPF 50+ protection; which is comforting to know that you will be protected from the sun’s UV rays all day on the water. It also means you won’t have to reapply/use sunscreen, which not only is annoying, but can often be harmful to the environment –  especially if you are swimming in waters with coral reefs.

These leggings would be perfect for wakeboarding, SUPing, kayaking (saves getting a soggy bum!), snorkelling and any other water based activity! Plus the fast drying fabric means you can hop in and out of the water all summer long.

Thanks Emma Pro Shop Customer Service Team

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Circle Of Life

This isn’t a review of the classic Walt Disney film The Lion King; which by-the-way is excellent. No this is the nostalgic ramblings of someone who forty years ago, at the age of fifteen, travel to the Alps with the intent of climbing the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc!

Allegedly, at the time, my peers and I were potentially the youngest people to try this. But just as noteworthy; is that we all came from the outskirts of London, which is not renowned for its hills, let alone mountains!

group of mountaineers
The numbers dwindled; until a core group of young people were offered the chance to go the Alps and attempt the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Romford Havering Observer Newspaper August 1978

How it all began

So how does a group of kids, more accustomed to playing in the streets, get to attempt such a feat! Well it’s all thanks to Rick Grice, and the London Borough of Havering (Havering)!

Rick was a keen outdoor pursuit participant, with a contagious love of the great outdoors. If hash-tags were about, back then, the Ordnance Survey’s #getoutside would have been running through his veins! He was infectious; he was also the ‘Advisor of Outdoor Pursuits’ for Havering.

Consequently, two bus trips away from my house, was a disused gravel pit called Stubbards. Not the vast complex that is now Stubbards Adventure Centre; but a few lakes where you could learn to kayak and sail. Havering also ran a minibus to Harrisons Rocks, East Sussex to learn climbing. Unknown to me at the time, but these were the same rocks that were so influential to the legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington!

Throughout the summer, for a small fee, I would spend many days at Stubbards and Harrison Rocks. Soon a merry band of climbers formed, and at the end of summer Rick asked if anyone was interested in doing more climbing. At this point I am not sure if Rick had the alpine expedition planned, but he was keen to provide an opportunity for those interested in more climbing. We travelled to other parts of the UK – Derbyshire, North Wales, Lake District, Cornwall and ultimately Scotland – in the familiar Havering minibus. The numbers dwindled; until a core group of young people were offered the chance to go to the Alps and attempt the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.

Intense training pursued. We travelled to the Highlands of Scotland in winter, and we improved our fitness by running up and down the stairs at the London Borough of Havering offices, before on the 21st July 1978 the expedition set off for the Alps – in two Havering minibuses!

The Alps

We camped in the Chamonix valley; and our first objective was to acclimatise to the altitude and become familiar with ice. We had practiced ice-work in the Highlands of Scotland; but here we had massive glaciers. I understand these glaciers have now receded an astounding amount, since we were on them in the 70s, a result of ‘climate change’! We climbed the Aiguilles (needles), that overlooked the valley, and notch up many classic routes. All in preparation for the instantly recognisable Matterhorn (4,478), our first objective!

We slept on a small ledge, part way up the Hörnli ridge, ready for a sunrise attempt on the summit – in fact we would start in darkness. In summer the snow and ice will melt, on the mountain, which can instigate rock falls. Consequently time is your enemy! 400m from the summit a small team, including me, had run out of time. Rick knew we couldn’t make the summit, in time safely, so we had to turn back. Disappointed at being so close, we made our way back down. Later that same day we heard the news that a ‘handful’ of climbers had died, in a rock fall, on the Matterhorn!

After some rest, and a few more peaks, we focused on Mont Blanc (4,810m); the highest mountain in Europe. We spent the night in the Gouter Hut, ready for another early morning ascent. The hut was not as big, back then, but still extremely popular; as I remember sleeping curled up next to the u-bend under the kitchen sink. The following morning we climbed the Bosses ridge to the summit. Unfortunately no spectacular summit views, because we were in white-out conditions, but triumphant in our success!

Rick Grice

Since that trip to the Alps, I have taken part in many outdoor pursuit activities with Rick, and fallen ‘in love’ with the great outdoors! Time spent in the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea; is time well spent. My family and I love the great outdoors!

plaque
Rick Grice Memorial Climbing Tower. This wall was dedicated to the memory of Rick Grice, late physical education advisor for the Borough of Havering.

Rick died the summer of 1986, I understand attempting to reach two other friends and colleagues who had fallen on a climb in the Alps. There is a memorial climbing wall at Stubbards Activity Centre dedicated to him. I do believe many people have, and will continue to be introduced to outdoor pursuits, thanks to Rick.

Circle of Life

So why ‘Circle of Life’? Presently I am the manager of Tallington Lakes Activities Ltd; a disused gravel pit in Lincolnshire where we introduce people to kayaking, sailing and climbing. We also offer other activities such as stand-up paddle boarding, open water swimming, skiing and snowboarding. And coincidently there are no notable mountains, or hills around us.

I am most-definitely not as competent as Rick, in climbing, mountaineering, kayaking etc; and although passionate about the great outdoors, nowhere near as infectious. But I do manage a team of young people who can show you a new activity; a new activity which, like me, may inspire you to #getoutside!

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Brixton All-Terrain Transport 20 Cargo Shorts Review

Tallington Lakes is pleased to announce the arrival of Brixton clothing to the Pro Shop. A collaboration of three friends; Brixton clothing has a ‘clean, classic design’ with a ‘modern yet timeless feel’. What attracted us was their All-Terrain Collection: clothing built for adventure on land and on water!

All-Terrain Transport 20 Cargo Shorts

One such ‘All-Terrain’ item is the Brixton Transport 20 Cargo Shorts. The shorts are made from 4.5 oz ripstop nylon (98%) and elastane (2%); and have a water-repellent coating. The cut is an athletic fit with a straight leg of 20”, and adjustable waistband. There are some nice features, and additions, which make these shorts stand out. A good number of pockets, which are zipped, is very practical; and they have even included a small ‘pocket size’ dry-bag to keep your wallet dry – however I’d be tempted just to have few notes and coins rather than a bulky wallet. Another nice addition is the ‘knot book’ (a handy, roped together,  collection of cards). This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!

knot book cards
Brixton Knot Book. This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!

So it seemed appropriate to review the Transporter shorts whilst rock climbing; to see how ‘all-terrain’ they are!

First impressions, when you put them on, are ‘very comfortable’; partly thanks to the elastane but also the cut. The reinforced seat reiterates you are going to be active; so once the climbing harness, helmet and other equipment was on, I was ready to ascend the gritstone crag. Still comfortable under the harness; the shorts allowed unrestricted movement. The lightweight material keeps you cool, even when things get tricky on the tense crux of the climb. What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!

abseilling
What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!

Comfortable and unrestrictive the Transporter 20 shorts performed well on the gritty rock face; and I believe they will perform just as well behind the wheel of a speeding wakeboard boat, or leisurely paddling a stand-up-paddleboard. So are they All-Terrain, yes they are, both on land and on water!

Check out the Brixton clothing range at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop here.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather