Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Monochrome Skies

The heavy door flew open, bathing the cold ceramics in uninvited daylight. A shot rang out, echoing within its occupant's cubicle.

Strike! The Musical

Thanks to grough for pointing out the recent 1-day strike in the Glasgow offices of the publishers of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times, and TGO magazine.

With the wonders of modern technology, you too can tap your toes to the scurl of the pipes as journalists leave the offices on the 20th of July: YouTube link. Warning - those easily offended by bagpipes, and/or Union activities might prefer this link instead.

Background info: PressGazette, NewsQuest, AllMediaScotland.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Taking Discourse

Those who take a discourse rightly, conforming to both the letter and the spirit, they are responsible for the good and the welfare of many, for the good, the welfare and the happiness of gods and men. (source)

Shape of things to Come

I'm not sure what to make of this thread where AngryDarren got angry about money being taken out of his account. But he quickly got help and was contacted by the publishers about it.

The title of the post? Well, seeing some of the replies to the angry post, reminds my why I post little on any outdoors forums these days. I'm at the stage in my cycle where negativity is magnified disproportionately and then levelled squarely between my eyes. So I tend to avoid things that are likely to cause me suffering. I wouldn't have bothered writing an angry post like Darren did. Not to a forum.

Some people see having lots of sources of opinions as good, others see it as bad. What is the place of the expert in a democracy? People see others as information nodes to be tapped for knowledge, and people offer that up freely. Sometimes the offering isn't what you want to hear, but is constructive. In a free society, the strongest, most popular, best run, most adaptive communities grow. They attract more members, more sponsors, can offer more prizes, more features, bigger servers to store more articles, photographs, etc. A growing artificial entity. It has its own morals, its own codes of conducts. Some stated, some unstated.

Outcasts are just that - cast out. Lawbreakers, with or without fair trial, are chastised. Challenges are organised and deeds of derring do are done. Tales from events, real or online, are circulated, and legends are born. People leave, people join, there are good times, there are bad, there are lean times, there are bountiful times.

Like any community - there are natural sizes before the community needs to reorganize. Do the same rules apply online? I don't think so, but I think it depends on how you view - and interact - with the community.

Simply put, if you keep track of the people replying, know their backgrounds, who they like and dislike, etc, then I'd guess that the standards of real world social modelling would apply. Otherwise, if you read posts, reply to those that you can help with, no matter who is asking, then you are interacting less with the society, and so different rules apply.

Web2.0 allows more interaction with people rather than the processes. People. Happy or sad. Tired or awake. Today or tomorrow. Vindictive or paranoid. Home or away. With you each day. Someone you can rely on. Closer each day. Home and away.

Paramo Cascada Trousers

I splashed out on a pair of Paramo Cascada trousers today. I know they don't have lots of pocketses, but they seem to live up to the hype. The Cascada's would save me taking separate waterproof overtrousers.

If I was walking long distances I'd probably carry a pair of 'hotel trousers' anyway -which could be my normal light trousers. I am looking forward to trying them out.

Good fitting in the shop, HillTrek of Aboyne. Never been in it before, but a packed gear shop. Gave me a membership discount too. Nice.

Weather was naff this weekend in the Cairngorms, so I didn't go out. Despite a threatened virtual poking with a virtual stick from Simon. So went for a run out to Braemar with the big camera, but the light was yeuchy.


Caught up with the last of Bob's podcasts from the European OutDoor Show (link).


Watched BBC1's new programme "Mountain". It had me worried in places, but Mr Jones is a big boy, and I'm sure had training. I recognised some of the faces he pulled, when Am Basteir "The Executioner" was mentioned. I just checked in Cicerone, it means "The Baptiser" but is often referred to by the other translation. Hey ho.


Across on the TGO News Desk, there's an article on some filmed ascents in the Cairngorms in mid-August. (link)

Sunday, 29 July 2007

If The Cap Fits

Finally did something with the CafePress account. Ordered myself a baseball cap with the full AktoMan logo on it, in khaki (link).

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Mount Keen - 2005

Two years ago today, I completed my first Munro. Mount Keen. It had been a scorcher of a day travelling up Glen Esk, but the weather came in and the plateau wasn't clear. I cared not a jot.

It took me about 6 hours, met some folk, and experienced a glow when my first Munro was finished.

Glen Esk

Tabbing it up Glen Esk, past some chaps repairing the track.

Queen's Well

Stopped to explore the incongruous Queen's Well.

Ladder Burn

Up the Ladderburn.

View Down to Glen Esk

The view down Glen Esk.

Mount Keen summit [939m]

Clambering over the rocks to the summit.

Me at Mount Keen

Pose for the self-timed camera snap.

Deer running

On the way back down, a gap in the cloud revealed a dear sneaking past. Stopping later to allow an ascending walker up, he said "this is my first"; "that was my first" says I.

I failed, however, to contact anyone to let them know about my conquest until I was back within mobile phone range. Strange feeling not being able to use a mobile phone when mobile.

Friday, 27 July 2007


Feature on the BBC's Landward programme about the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS). You can see Geoff Monk compiling the forecasts in their video clip.

Coincidentally, the Sports Minister announced that "sportscotland will be investing £36,000 per annum over the next three years." (link)

Thursday, 26 July 2007


The Outdoors Station has started a YouTube channel. It seems to compare favourably with the iTunes feed in media quality. You can watch Bob demonstrating their range of tarps, for example.

Strangely, in the 'related' field was Yazoo's "Don't Go", which, of course led to "Only You", which seemed to be the one record that we had in the Sixth Year hut at the Nicolson.

Interview Take 2

Andy Skype-called again to try and get a better recording for the podcast on bloggers. Last time I was down with the 'flu when he called. Today, I had spent most of the day in a darkened room - migraine came on in the morning. Bleh.

Still, managed to listen to some Outdoor Station podcasts whilst resting my eyes. I've just noticed how smug Andy looks on the photo for Bob & Andy's Seaside Adventure.

Simon Says

Simon's side of the weekend's story can be found in his trip reports on Scottish Hills:The east end of North Glen Sheil

Good Luck

Best wishes to Kevin (Batish) and Tomoe on their new venture: One Life Japan. A very philosophical blog entry announcing it (link).

Hey, Simon, look what I found on their new company's blog...great minds, eh?

Eco-Navigation: Seabirds vs GPS

By some small coincidence, there's a Japanese exhibition on at the Art Gallery in Aberdeen just now. I've only managed round half of it so far, but spotted one usagi and some heron, and some gorgeous netsuke.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

I support the MWIS

There's an article on Cameron McNeish's blog about the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) being under threat again. I've posted a comment on Cameron's blog, and emailed a copy to the Executive's Sports Minister, so won't repeat myself here.

Vibrating rings

I missed this recently. What a cunning idea!

Two vibrating rings which can guide the wearer around a city via global positioning satellite (GPS) have been unveiled by a British designer at the Royal College of Art...Gail Knight. ...The rings buzz for left and right, and have different vibrations for forwards and backwards. Both buzz when going in the wrong direction. (link)(via The Goat)

Well done, Gail.

Lightweight Tents

When catching up on the TGO Gear pages about the European OutDoor Trade Fare, I also noted Cameron's posting on the lightweight (sub 2kg) and lower-priced tent (approx £120) from Wild Country for 2008. (link)


The new edition of Trail scrambled through the letter-box this morning included an item about a "reader whose ultra-light tent had collapsed in really wild weather". So some calls were made and a few manufacturers of lightweight tents were asked what speed their tents can cope with.

Golly. I didn't realise that wind speed only affected lightweight tents?

Looking back, to June 2007's Trail, with sub-2kg 2-person tents, wind speed is not rated. However, Trail's Graham Thompson did talk about the stability of the tents in his reviews.

I note that Craigdon Mountain Sports have a tent show advertised this weekend in Duthie park, I wonder if they will have a note of the wind speeds that their tents can stand up to? I think the public should be informed. Oh, they do - they have staff on hand to tell people - how handy is that?

As Mr Thompson rightly says "You need to know what you and your kit are capable of".

Doesn't everyone?

The outdoors can be a dangerous place - get it wrong, and you can die. Much like driving to work.

Be safe, be alert, be turned on to your place in the scheme of things - if you screw up, it's usually you that suffers. The rain doesn't care that you only took a showerproof jacket. The wind doesn't care that your tent can't cope. The sun doesn't care....well, you get the gist.

In a blame-centred society, it is good to have no-one to blame but yourself. Puts things in perspective.

Wild camping? He was bloody furious. Boom tish.

Primus ETA Express again

More info through on the Primus ETA Express that I posted about recently (Primus ETA Express). Lighthiker is going through his haul from the Friedrichshafen European OutDoor Trade Fare. Thanks for the dedication (both definitions), Roman.

I failed to pick up on the TGO Gear pages which included articles posted form the show too. Including this one from Cameron McNeish on the ETA Express. Increase efficiency, so less gas used, so longer hikes with smaller amounts of fuel. Cracking stuff.

Google Reader

What's in my Google Reader subscription? Well, it changes quite regularly, but here's my current personalised 'magazine' list in alphabetical order.

Alan Sloman's Big Walk

Look! A three-headed monkey!

Ali and Lay's Mountaineering Blog

Mark Stirton

American Bushman

Mobile Learning

Backcountry.com: The Goat

Must Be This Way


Puppy's World


Scobleizer - Tech Geek Blogger

Big Galloot

Simon's Blog

Blogger Buzz

Stirton Productions and Beyond

Chris Townsend Outdoors

Summit Dreams

Daily Blog Tips

The Other Scottish Storyteller

Freezer Bag Cooking

The Wilderness World
of Cameron McNeish

GTM Coupe Rebuild

Trail Gear Blog


Two-Heel Drive

Hike Wales

Walkabout In The UK



Lighthikers World


London Backpacker's Walking Pages


Add to that, a regular plough through the blogs listed in the sidebar, and magazines. If I can learn from other people, then it might save me time, money and hardship. It can even be entertaining as well as educational.

3 Days of 'Bagging

Some of Simon's photos from the weekend. Me in the outdoors. Perhaps the sofa would be a better option after all.

Below Ben Wyvis

Friday: Below Ben Wyvis.

Saturday above Cluanie

Saturday above Cluanie

having fun yet

No comment.

round edge then the bealach

round edge then the bealach

Bealach Coire a'Chait

Bealach Coire a'Chait

Unpacking pack into tent

Unpacking pack into tent

Trust me, I know what I'm doing

Trust me, I know what I'm doing

On the side of A'Chralaig

On the side of A'Chralaig


Bypassing the technical climbs/scrambles, care still need be taken. Yes, I am in the photo.

Mullach Fraoch-choire

Simon and myself on Mullach Fraoch-choire

Away from Mullach F-c

Retracing the track back to our packs.


The low cloud helped me a lot.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Bearded Git!'s moved his blog across to WordPress. I'm not sure if the exclamation mark is required in his alias, but I don't want to be tarred with a particular hue.

Click here to be taken to the new BG! blog.

How Scottish?

A company have a calculator on their site that tells you how Scottish your name is.

An index score of 100 is the average for all name combinations in Scotland.

I scored 257.

A nephew of mine would score 276, but he does have a Gaelic-spelt first name.

Primus ETA Express

From the European OutDoor fair (singular 'outdoor'), Trail's Gear Blog posted about the new Primus ETA Express solo cook system (link).

From the great newsfeed from Trail, and the detailed postings on Roman/Lighthiker's blog (if you're not sure what a blog is...well, too late), this integrated system from Primus has been the only bit of kit to catch my eagle eyes.

The lower section looks similar to the Primus Micron, and when searching for more information, I find that Cameron McNeish wrote that: "Chris has been getting a little excited by the new Primus EtaExpress stove" (link).

Link to Chris Townsend's blog. I'm waiting for the review of this tent to appear in TGO. PS: nice photo.

Andy Talks Dirty

Andy's trailer for the long-awaited (by me anyway) podcast chats with various bloggers.

Killer Crocs

Whoa, there was me just winding down for the night when I caught site of Sarah's crocs across on her blog. They allow those on the PCT? I suppose with hunters about (big assumption on my part), that having something that bright strapped to your pack makes sense.

Oh, and there's also her kit list too, which I'll peruse after the blobs have finished dancing in front of my eyes.

Ultimate Outdoor Season

Just caught the trailer for the new BBC programme "Mountain", which starts at the weekend. I know that seeing Cameron McNeish on top of a Scottish hill may not be newsworthy, but the series looks like fun. There's a book to accompany the series, no doubt a dvd with added features, and maybe even cakes.

Griff Rhys Jones/Ultimate Outdoor Season - Mountain
A new series for BBC One presented by Griff Rhys Jones, it's on BBC One, Sunday 29 July at, 9pm. He's travelling the length of the UK on the country's highest mountain peaks - Wales, The Lake District, The Pennines, Central Scotland and the North West Highlands of Scotland. (link)

Griff will also look at the historical tales of the British mountains - epic battles, early pioneers and geological marvels. (link)

The series is part of the Ultimate Outdoors Season on the BBC. (link to BBC Press Office, which must be busy just now, as they haven't updated the information at time of my posting.)

There is a link to the BBC's page for the program...which is currently a placeholder (link ... the BBC busy again, perhaps.)

Now, what caught my attention was the phrase "Ultimate Outdoor Season". I found nothing on the BBC site about it, and the nothing on the BBC's Scotland/Outdoors mini-site. Of course, maybe with recent scandals, the BBC are resorting to sponsorship?

I wonder if Jones the Hill has been following the BBC's own advice on How to Climb Mountains from h2g2?

Other items you might wish to take are:
A large calibre rifle
Enough ammunition to take out a platoon of revolutionaries
An ice axe (for ice climbing and to slice meat for food from your climbing partner's frozen body)
Warm clothing
A religious item to use for when you beg God for mercy
A rope (this can be used to climb with, or to hang yourself when things get really bad)

Hold you ice axe is a menacing way and threaten your friend into climbing ahead of you, that way when avalanches and rock slides happen his body might deflect the first part of the onslaught which could allow you time to seek shelter. Continue on in this fashion making a good effort at not falling to your death. Also try not to be hit by falling objects like rocks, snow, and other mountaineers.
I think it is meant to be a parody. Maybe there's a premium rate number I can call and ask the BBC about their advice? Or what else will be in the "Ultimate Outdoor Season"? Ultimate is a big word to live up to.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Cluanie horseshoe day 2

2 munros completed. Thanks Simon. Details to follow.
With a shower outside, the Akto's door vent comes in handy. The fabric is dropped out of the tent, so drips are avoided. Looking at the Kintail Harveys map of the bealach region we were in, I found a typo that I'll need to inform them of. See if you can spot it? Look for the Allt running from Coire a' Chait.
Simon in the neighbouring Akto.
Opportunity to photograph my cookset. Folding spork, Primus Micron, nalgene cup, home-made wind shield, gas cannister, Snow*Peak titanium mug, homemade pot cosy, sponge on its ziplock bag.
Pitched at 900m overlooking Gleann na Ciche. Simon's Akto on the left and mine on the right.
Lochan nan Doirbeag
Looking back at the unnamed lochan (self-named Lochan nan Doirbeag) where we had camped on Saturday night.
A' Chralaig in cloud
A' Chralaig in cloud.
Gleann na Ciche
Gleann na Ciche.
Low cloud over Affric
Low cloud over Affric.
Eastern ridge in cloud
Eastern ridge in cloud.
Near A' Chralaig
Near A' Chralaig.
A' Chralaig cairn
A' Chralaig cairn.
Simon at A' Chralaig
Simon at A' Chralaig.
A' Chralaig [Munro 37, 1120m/3674ft]
Duncan at A' Chralaig [Munro 37, 1120m/3674ft].
On to the Stob
On to Stob Coire na Cralaig.
Three folk overtake us
Three folk overtake us.
Onward to the Stob
Onward to the Stob.
Near Mullach
Near Mullach Fraoch-choire. The worse of the work done - expect we have to head back the same way. I hope the low cloud doesn't lift suddenly.
Mullach Fraoch-choire [Munro 38. 1102m/3615ft]
Duncan and Simon on Mullach Fraoch-choire [Munro 38. 1102m/3615ft]
junction near Stob
Junction near Stob Coire na Cralaig. We would head down into Coire Odhar rather than taking the longer trek back to A'Chralaig and then down.
Looking up from Coire Odhar
Looking up from Coire Odhar.
To An Caorann Mor
Looking down from Coire Odhar to An Caorann Mor.
Below the cloud mass
Below the cloud mass in An Caorann Mor, heading down to the valley floor.
Trek out
An Caorann Mor was a bit boggy, but not seriously so.
The path
Gaining the hardpath in the glen.
Cluanie appears
Loch Cluanie appears.
Stone walls
Strange stone walls, some I shaped, some T or Y shaped in the glen. Some form of sheep shelter perhaps?
Simon back at car
14km and 5 Munros later, Simon back at the car.
Duncan back at car
A few minutes later, I, too, was back at the car. Soon after, I would be hunting for my car keys - losing them after unlocking the car.