Saturday, 10 April 2010

Night in the Hills

I managed to squeeze in an overnight wildcamp in the Mournes before getting ready to start back to work. I'd planned to go 2 weekends ago but the weather was bad and I was still suffering from a cold so decided to postpone it. I was off work all week and as Marcus was off work and the weather was settled we decided to go down to the Mournes on Thursday afternoon and come back on Friday. I wanted to get back before the weekend proper as I had some things to do at home.

It was really just a chance to get out as most of the gear had already been tried with the exception of the Goosefeet down socks which had only been tried out in the garden and of course a 1st try out with my new ULA Conduit.

Marcus had managed to pick up an older model Pro Action Hike Lite in green off ebay so he needed some extra loops added like I'd done on my own (and his other) Hike Lite. In addition to the new tent he had a new Sleeping bag, an Alpkit PD600.

I decided to take the Alpkit PD200 and used a 3/4 length Karrimor self inflate mat with a full length 3mm CCF to which I'd added 2 short pieces of 8mm CCF. I made this as it's easier to fold up to form a back support for the ULA Conduit. Like the last time out before Christmas I used the Phreeranger flysheet and silnylon footprint. We were both using EK meths burners and cone type windshields.

We hadn't any definite plans but we were parked up by 4.30 and inevitably ended up on Slieve Bearnagh. It was easy to find a nice level spot between the two tops and it was pretty sheltered as the Mourne wall runs across the saddle between both tops.

I'd been messing around with the dehydrator again and had brought a Spaghetti Bolognese although as I don't have complete confidence in my culinary skills I'd packed a 'Real Turmat' meal as a back-up.

As we were pitched up pretty early there was plenty of time to wander around before making something to eat. The spaghetti Bolognese was fine and after sitting around we decided to go back up to the summit tor to take some photos.

It was almost dark by then and as we were pitched on the side of the southish wall we were looking into the middle of the Mournes with the view north towards Belfast hidden from view. I was almost up at the summit tor before I looked around and was surprised by the lights from all the towns and villages to the north.

It wasn't too breezy and the temperature was above freezing but standing around my hands soon began to feel cold although I was otherwise fine wearing an ME Xero jacket which was to serve as the top half of my sleeping bag. We eventually settled in around 11.00pm and I changed into my baselayer and pulled on the down socks. I had the 3/4 length mat inside the bivvy bag and decided to make a hot drink before bedding down. I must have fallen asleep waiting for my drink to cool as I wakened with a jump at 12.00 to find my drink well and truly cooled, not wanting to waste it I drank it anyway.

I wakened again at around 4.00am, went back to sleep but wakened again thinking that I'd forgotten to switch off either the tent light or head torch, it was simply that it was morning, 7.30 or so. The wind had swung around in the night and was now hitting the front of my tent but after a quick breakfast we packed up and walked back down to the Trassey track and then on to the car park at Meelmore lodge. We met quite a few people on our way down and with the sun now shining and the temperature rising it looked like they were in for a nice day out.

We were back home at around 12.00, the journey taking about 2 hours or so.

There were no gear related problems this time, everything is pretty much refined now but unfortunately I'll be starting the end of week shift now so it'll probably be a month before I get out again.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Tundra Ethical Sleeping Bags (Down)

I don't recall having heard of Tundra before finding them while surfing the net but they seem to have an interesting range of sleeping bags.

Tundra bags are made in Warsaw, Poland by 'Warmth Unlimited' and are tested by Leeds University which should mean their temperature ratings are comparable to those of Alpkit and possibly PHD.

The thing that attracted my attention was the 'Ethical' tag, there's been some discussion about the various methods of collecting down, plucking down from live birds being quite controversial. It seems not all the bags are made using 100% ethical down, the figure of 95% is given for some of the range but certainly 96% is a vast improvement over other less ethical down collection methods.

The website is worth a look but unfortunately for the gram counters there doesn't appear to be any indication of the weights.

There is a link to a UK supplier, Tundra Stockists