Monday 12 January 2015

The Great Outdoors Latest Issue: Ski touring, winter camping in the Cairngorms, insulated vests and more

Ski tourers on the Moine Mhor in the Cairngorms

The February issue of The Great Outdoors is in the shops now. I have a feature on ski touring, appropriately as I went on my first short tour of the season yesterday (see last post), plus a backpacking column piece on a winter camp in the Cairngorms, a review of ten insulated gilets/vests and a review of Jim Crumley's excellent book The Eagle's Way. The winter camp also produced two photos in the magazine - the frontispiece and a double-page spread taken at night at Loch Etchachan.

This issue also features two other spectacular double-page winter photographs - one from David Lintern of the Sneck in the Cairngorms and one from Stewart Smith of Grisedale Tarn in the Lake District. More great pictures appear in Colin Henderson's photo essay on hillwalking and scrambling in the Scottish winter hills. The first image of a hillwalker climbing Mayar in the Cairngorms in clouds of snow and spindrift really captures the Scottish winter experience. Perhaps the most atmospheric picture though is Terry Abraham's sunset one of a winter camp on Bowfell that opens a feature on Lakeland in winter. Carey Davies is also in the winter Lake District, writing about a playful day on Crinkle Crags with ice axes for his Mountain Magic column.

Far away from snow and winter Tony Howard visits the Manas National Park on the India-Bhutan border. This follows my ski touring feature and I found it quite startling to turn the page from my snowy pictures to see elephants and a langur. Elsewhere Jim Perrin explores the hills of Shropshire and, in his Hillwalkers' Library, recommends Neil Gunn's Highland River. In his Environment column Roger Smith warns how a recent new planning policy could have a negative effect on the countryside in England and calls on outdoor lovers to ask questions of candidates for the general election. In the Hill Skills section Mark Chadwick of Glenmore Lodge gives advice on avalanches and there are also tips on ice axe self-arrest, understanding snow and mountain weather, and a recap on compass use.

As well as my gilets test the gear section has a review of eighteen base layers and the Sherpa Nangpala Primaloft Down Blend jacket, both by Daniel Neilson.

Down vest in use at a chilly camp in the San Francisco Mountains on the Arizona Trail


  1. Hi chris first blog post so i may have done something wrong. I read your ski touringarticle and again was enthused. We are 63/59 only one hour on a dry ski slope for ski experience but general mountain experience all the munros. Several tgo challenges,one including 31munros. I wrote about a winter trip to the ben Aglo munros camping on snow in the early days of the tgo forum and you were good enough to comment .We also did the pyrenean haute route and got to 6360m in the High Andes.
    Al this done in inov8s with kahtoola steel crampons and at height extra homemade shoe insulation.
    I think we would want to ski nordic in flexible boots? I looked at mountainspirit from your article and saw that they hire ski touring equipment but the boots they sell seem to be rigid as the foot seems to attach to the ski at the tip of the toe only? will a couple of days hire when the snow is good for beginners give us the idea whether to invest in ski equipment? We would be starting on almost flat snow very little down gradient

  2. Hi Derek, thanks for your comment. Nordic boots do only attach at the toe and they all flex at the forefoot. However they vary from very light flexible boots that are used with very skinny skis for track skiing in forests and valleys through to stiffer heavier boots that are used with wider skis with metal edges that are suitable for skiing in the hills. It sounds like the latter is what you are looking for. A couple of days hire could give you an idea whether to invest inb ski equipment. I'd recommend instruction or a course though - that's what I did many years ago and it was well worthwhile.