So, the winter season is well and truly upon us, and I’m still too ill to take any real advantage of it. Great. That said, the past few of times I have been out (both in Wales and a recent trip to the Cairngorms), I have been trialling and contemplating some very simple gear ideas, and it’s time to tell the world!
- Cycling Glasses
Ok, what the hell am I on about now – cycling glasses for winter climbing? Oh yes. Check me out!
Ok, I look stupid.
So why am I wearing them? Well, since I started wearing contact lenses to climb, rather than just wearing my normal glasses, I’ve realised that I feel a little vulnerable in the face area, which is especially relevant to me as I seem to be a magnet for falling ice. I contemplated using a helmet visor, but the one available for the Grivel Salamander is more of a peak than a visor, and not what I was looking for, so the thought of ‘safety glasses’ struck me next, and hence, on a recent trip to Decathlon I found myself looking at clear cycling glasses, admiring the amount of face coverage they provide, and also feeling stunned by how cheap they were (£8 I think). They are now a constant companion on the winter hills – ace for protecting eyes from falling ice, spindrift, or even just the wind. They’re no replacement for goggles when the sh*t really hits the fan, but I’d say a good 90% of the time a pair of these are a great thing to wear as they’re comfortable enough that you forget you’re wearing them and provide you with a nice protective barrier to boot.
- £9 Casio Digital Watch from Argos
Another slightly revolutionary concept here – a cheap but tough digital watch, but not to wear on your wrist…
When winter climbing you’ll inevitably be wearing multiple layers and gloves, which means that wearing a wrist watch is either not an option at all (i.e. if you’re like me and find the watch plus glove cuff combo excruciatingly uncomfortable), or you wear one but it is underneath your many layers and a total pain to actually be able to look at.
Really there are three main options for telling the time on the hill in winter: 1) wear a watch normally and suffer the consequences, 2) wear a watch over the top of your clothing layers and suffer the consequences, or 3) don’t wear a watch at all (rely on your partner, or have some form of clock stashed elsewhere).
So far this year I have chosen varieties of option 3 every time – usually either relying on my partner wearing a watch, or digging my phone out of my pocket, neither of which are particularly good options really. My latest notion, is to use a watch permanently attached to my rucksack strap, mounted upside down so I can simply glance down and see what the time is, no hassle! Now, obviously this won’t work if I’m not climbing with the bag on, but most of the time I spend out in winter I will be wearing my rucksack, or it will be close by, so theoretically this could be a great solutions, only time will tell (sorry!).
So there we go – as you can see in the picture, my new cheap retro casio fits onto the webbing strap of my Berghaus Arete perfectly – they’re almost made for each other! All I had to do was remove the watch strap, and refit the pins around the webbing (so the webbing is effectively just a replacement watch strap). I will admit that it was a touch fiddly, but the result is stunning – no cable ties or duct tape in sight!
The reason I chose this watch (I think the model is an F-91W or something), was because it was a) cheap, b) digital (don’t want an analogue watch as it’ll be more fragile with all the moving parts), c) water resistant, d) long proven to be pretty much indestructible (I know people who have had these for years, put them through hell and they just keep on and on working), e) low profile/thin/small and f) has a replaceable strap and not a built in rubber thing. In other words, it is perfect for what I wanted here – it even has the added bonus of having a light and functionality as a stopwatch or alarm.