Thursday, 9 April 2009
Trip to the Cairngorms
Just back last night after a few days in Scotland, my plan was to do a bit of walking/camping in the Cairngorms coming in from the Linn of Dee. I'd already booked the ferry so even though the weather forecast wasn't promising I had little choice but go. The trip didn't exactly go according to plan, for one thing I decided to leave my ice axe, crampons and stiffer boots in the car to save a bit of weight (my pack was already around 19kg what with gear that isn't exactly lightweight, 4 days food and around 1.5kg of camera and lens) I didn't really have any definite plans preferring to be flexible but with the benefit of hindsight I was perhaps a bit too flexible as I wandered around a lot and changed my mind too often.
In any case it was an opportunity to try some new gear and some older gear in a different environment. It was my 1st real try with my new Terra Nova Laser so I was looking forward to seeing how I managed, also I'd opted to take an EK Kombi as my sole means of cooking, I'd brought my C-3 mini gas stove but decided to leave it in the car reasoning that in the absence of suitable fuel for the wood stove I could rely on the back-up alcohol burner. Most of my main meals were made up of a variety of supermarket dehydrated meals but I did take a Wayfarer and a Mountain House main meal for variety.
My kit list was as follows,
Terra Nova Laser
In addition to the 12 supplied pegs I took
4 x Vargo nails
10 x Camcleat Y's
That added 250g
Plus a Footprint at 194g
EK Kombi c/w Meths burner
Tibetan ti 450ml mug
Tibetan ti Folding Spork
GSI Long Handled Spoon
Mora Carbon knife c/w flint
Cosy for Ziplock Bags
2 x 250ml Bottles of Meths
6 x 14g Esbit Tabs
Field & Trek Moonlite Down Bag (bit of a misnomer as it weighs over 2kg)
Highlander Thermalite Compact Self Inflating Mat (another misnomer as it's neither compact or lite, just over 1kg)
L Ortlieb Bag (only filled prior to setting up camp)
I made up 4 foodpacks which consisted more or less of the following,
Breakfast - Muesli, Coffee
Lunch - Fruit/Cereal Bar, Mini Smoked Cheese, Garibaldi biscuits, Cuppa-soup*, Instant Mocha/Cappuccino*, Chocolate (Mars)
Main Meal - Cuppa Soup, Cup Pasta, Mrs Mathesons Smoked sausage, Coffee.
Night Snacks - Cuppa Soup, Coffee + whatever was left from Lunch/Main Meal.
I tend to drink a lot of coffee and eat constantly when I'm stuck in the tent with nothing to do so everything was used up, in fact the Mountain House Rice and Chili was so utterly disgusting that I couldn't eat it, that resulted in using additional fuel (fortunately using the wood stove at that time) and a raid on the next days meal. I'm definitely going for a dehydrator, one from Westfalia at £26 will be fine. I don't expect to see a massive weight saving as the only stuff that wasn't dehydrated was the sausage but at least I can make something I like in the quantities I need.
Osram Dot-it LED light
Lowe Mountain Cap
Light Trespass Overtrousers
Spare L/S Sub Zero Thermal
Pair light Fleece Trouser Liners
Spare pair short Socks
1st Aid Kit
Panasonic SDR-S7 Cardcam + 2 spare batteries (carried in a CCS Belt Pouch)
Olympus E-3 & 14-54mm lens + 2 spare batteries & spare CF Cards (carried in a CCS Pouch clipped to the rucksack shoulder straps)
Pair Highlander Trekking Poles
German Army Penknife
Chocolate Fish Merino L/S Base layer
Mountain Equipment Liskamm Trousers
Fleece Zip Neck Top (£2 at Primark)
Meindl Borneo Boots
I used a Karrimor Condor 65l SA rucksac to carry it all.
I think the only thing apart from the 1st aid kit that didn't get used was the spare base layer top, the fleece trouser liners I wore once at night. Of the other stuff I could probably manage without,
Mora Knife (retaining the Flint)
That would save 172g. I won't take the TN wire skewers again, they're light but compromised, instead I'd take 6 Camcleat Y's, 4 Vargo Nails and 6 Blacks Alloy Skewers for a total weight of 249g. As it turned out I was glad to have the TN Wires, I accidental left the EK Kombi Windshield support rods behind after stopping for lunch on day 1 and had to use 2 TN Wires that evening, actually picked the 2 rods up again on the way back!!
Of the rest I'm not sure where to make a saving, the sleeping bag is sorted as I'd already ordered a PHD bag at around 900g, a saving of over 1kg, I should and probably would have taken a smaller camera but for the fact that my wife had taken it with her to Spain. That would save 889g (E-3 + Lens 1418g, C5050 529g) As for the sleeping mat, well I could have taken an Alpkit Wee Airic or gone retro with a Karrimat Extreme strapped to the outside which incidentally I had to do with the Thermalite. Either option should save about 500g although I'm considering a Pacific Outdoors Ether Thermo 6 at 623g. It seems pointless saving 100g but all the 100g here and there add up and at 10st I can't afford to carry any unnecessary weight.
Although the trip was a bit shambolic due to poor planning and indecision everything worked pretty much as it should, the Kombi performed flawlessly, used 3 times in wood stove configuration, once with an Esbit tab simply to see how it performed and all cooking that was done inside the porch was done using the meths back-up as a stand alone stove. I had no problems with stability as a skewer through the baseplate kept it rock solid.
The Laser was mainly fine but I have to say there are a few areas where I feel that a compromise was accepted in an attempt to save a few spec sheet grams. It seems to be extremely prone to condensation, even with the ends vents hiked up, that wouldn't necessarily be a major issue if the inner and fly could be separated easily but they can't so by the time it was packed and bagged the entire tent, inner and outer was saturated. I have to say that once pitched it does offer a comfortable amount of space for 1 especially if you're sitting out bad weather as I did in Glen Nevis when it rained constantly from arrival late afternoon Tuesday until I left late morning Wednesday. I'll post a few thoughts on the Laser comparing it with the Phoenix Phreeranger/Phreeranger EB but that'll keep for another time.
Of the clothing I used everything was fine, the Liskamm's were warm, pretty windproof and water resistant and dried quickly, the Montane Flux was fine but I expected that as I'd almost worn it out when I got it, the Tacgear windshirt did what it was supposed to do and was pretty cheap, my fleece cost £4 from Primark (zip neck, shockcorded hem, elasticated cuffs, 2 handwarmer pockets) and did what a fleece is supposed to do and the Chocolate Fish Merino top worked away in the background keeping me dry, warm and socially acceptable.
The biggest problem I had was my rucksack, for some reason I couldn't get it comfortable, it seemed to press on the belt of my trousers or cut into my shoulders, never had a problem with it before, the only thing I can think of is that since I last carried that amount of weight in it I've had a bad RTA on a motorbike, a few broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade among other things resulted in my right shoulder being 1-2" lower than the left, either that or my wife is right, I've just had too many birthdays :-)
All in all not exactly how I imagined it but I'm looking forward to a return visit with a lighter load and some idea of where I'm going. Perhaps the weather will be a bit more predictable next time!!