Saturday 4 February 2017

The Great Outdoors March issue - trekking poles, ice axes, MSR XGK, & FOS down jacket

The March issue of The Great Outdoors is in the shops now. The overall theme is still winter, which is appropriate as it looks like the first snow that might stick for a while is due to start falling this weekend. On the winter theme I review ice axes in a new series called Take Three that will look at three items in different price categories, and also the Freedom of Sleep Hoodie Down Jacket. And in the Classic Gear section I describe the evolution of one of the best stoves for melting snow, the MSR XGK. I also review ten pairs of trekking poles, something I wouldn't be without when there's snow on the hills even for day walks (I often don't bother with poles on summer day trips).

The magazine opens with a couple of mouthwatering wintry photos - the Lairig Ghru from Rothiemurchus by James Roddie and Castell y Gwynt, Glyder Fach by Helen Iles. The latter is a taster for a magnificent photo essay on a winter camp on the summit of Glyder Fach. More great winter photos are found in David Lintern's fine tale about a round of the Glen Etive Munros. The winter theme continues down in the Lake District where Ronald Turnbull describes a day on Striding Edge, Helvellyn and neighbouring summits. Also in the Lake District Stewart Smith climbs a snowy Whiteside in the NW fells and Carey Davies renews acquaintance with the Fairfield Horseshow while down in Snowdonia Dan Aspel climbs a snowy Daear Ddu Ridge on Moel Siabod. Still wintry but far from Britain Alec Connan describes a trip in the wonderful Olympic Mountains in Washington State in the USA, an area I thought was one of the highlights of the Pacific Northwest Trail.

Away from adventures Roger Smith worries about pressures for developments in the countryside and says the need for people to stand up and be counted in the defence of the countryside has never been greater. Roger Smith is also rightly concerned about the future for National Parks in the USA under the Trump administration. Elsewhere he reviews the interesting sounding A Poacher's Pilgrimage by Alastair McIntosh. Also on books Jim Perrin praises Tom Patey's One Man's Mountains, reminding me I must search out my copy - I haven't read it for years.

The Hill Skills section of the magazine is about the Mountain Environment and has interesting stuff on magnetic anomalies (reminding me of when I was caught out on Ben More on Mull, descending the wrong side of the hill), words for hills and mountains, mountain weather, geomorphology and glaciology (a very good piece by Ronald Turnbull), avalanches, and protecting the winter landscape.


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