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New Ice Axes

We’ve not really said much about it, but there’s a lot of new stuff in our ice axe range this winter. So, now that it’s about to get a bit colder in the UK and the snow is coming in the Alps here’s a run down of what’s new.


Black Diamond Viper

The Black Diamond Viper has been redesigned, it’s now lighter, has a T rated pick and shaft as well as an adjustable FlickLock pommel.

The Black Diamond Viper is a versatile technical ice axe designed to be able to handle any of the demands of winter climbing you can throw at it. It features a hydroformed shaft which extends right through the grip giving excellent feel and maximum strength. The adjustable pommel has Black Diamond’s easy to use and secure FlickLock adjustment so you can set a secondary grip position when on easier angled terrain.



The DMM Fly is an incredibly popular ice tool and is part of the new DMM winter range at Facewest.  It’s an ideal axe for Scottish winter.

The DMM Fly Axe has become the go to tool for winter mountaineers requiring a superb all round winter ice tool with either an adze or hammer. Designed for technical mountaineering where steep pitches need to be overcome this is the ideal choice for tough terrain that may include water ice and mixed ground. Both the pick and the shaft are T rated (technical) ensuring the ultimate in strength.


Petzl Summit

The Petzl Summit is another redesign (it was actually redesigned back in Spring, but who wants to know about ice axes then?) It’s now a lot lighter having lost the outer rubber grip the old one had.  It’s also got a new shape and is an ideal axe for mountaineering at a much better weight.  It’s also available as the Summit Evo which is a a more technical version for tougher terrain.


DMM Cirque

The Petzl Summit is lightweight yet offers good anchoring performance. It has a straight lower shaft for plunging and curved upper shaft for use on steep ice. The pick is a thin 3mm with toothed tip for good security in hard snow and ice and it thickens in the middle for better performance in soft snow. The highly durable steel adze gives comfortable support and is tilted to direct the axe into the snow and has edges designed for efficient carving. The spike is made of stainless steel for durability and good penetration in hard snow.

The DMM Cirque is another one in our new DMM winter range.  It’s a popular mountaineering axe, although it does come with a T rated pick and shaft for the best in strength.The handle has a silicon cover to ensure a solid grip is maintained and also includes double rivets where it is joined to the main shaft increasing strength. The shaft has a slight curve but can be easily plunged into soft snow. With holes large enough at either end for carabiners you have a choice how leashes may be fitted, they also enable the Cirque to be used when constructing a belay.


Petzl Glacier

The Petzl Glacier is a great walking/touring axe which has replaced the popular Snow Walker axe.  It’s also available in a lighter ski touring/racing specific version called the Glacier Literide, which effectively replaces the Snow Racer.

It has a high quality steel pick which is identical to the picks found on the more technical axes giving it excellent anchoring. The lightweight anodized aluminium shaft has a cut handle for a better grip when used for technical ice climbing. Although this is primarily a walking axe it is still up to the job when the terrain gets technical.


Grivel Helix

The Grivel Helix is a new addition this year. It’s a quality walking axe with the useful addition of a palm protector fitted to the pick – great if you’re tired of wearing your gloves through because you spend so much time carrying your axe.

The Grivel Helix has been designed specifically for Scottish winter mountaineering and walking. You have a choice of lengths depending on your height and it comes with a classic straight shaft. The pick is fitted with a removable PU palm protector providing a good and comfortable grip and in addition reduces wear to gloves. Fitted with a long leash for security that includes a spike protector. A great axe for British winter walking in the mountains.

You can view all our Ice Axes HERE

Stuck Choosing New Skis or Bindings?

We have an excellent range of touring and freeride skis & bindings perfect for getting you away from the crowds. We’ve got some articles online to help you decide decide which skis or bindings are right for you. They’re aimed at explaining a few things and hopefully helping you choose between the various models.  Click the links below to go to the relevant articles:


How to choose your skis


How to choose your bindings


My New Suunto Traverse


Got my new Suunto Traverse yesterday and have spent a little while playing with it now.

My first impressions are very positive. It was always going to be about GPS pick up for me. The Ambit3 has a bar antenna whilst the Traverse has a loop antenna.  Suunto introduced the bar antenna in the first Ambit to improve the GPS performance, as on the model previous to that (Suunto X10) the pick up was simply not good enough. The lack of bar makes the watch more MUCH comfortable to wear and I am pleased to report that the GPS performance of the Traverse is better than the Ambit 3 even though it has the more compact loop antenna.

Normally I take a video of the very first sat fix out of the box for the new models but I was thwated by the Traverse because whilst I was sitting at my deck inside the office setting it up I turned on the GPS inadvertently. The bloody thing got a fix inside the office in less than 30 seconds! Out of interest I then turned on the GPS on my Ambit 3 in the same spot and the fix was nearer a minute. So any reservations I had about GPS performance have gone.

The Suunto Traverse is designed for the mountain / outdoor user who wants a recording GPS and barometric altimeter. This person may want to know their heart rate but has no need of the advanced sports metrics and features.

If you are not that familiar with the current Suunto range then the Traverse is a great altimeter watch with the ability to also be a GPS and heart rate monitor. You can set the watch up with as many or as few screens as you want and can turn on or off just about all it’s features. The watch is pretty easy to use and is a very useful tool for navigating and reviewing your activities. If you are familiar with the 2 best selling models from Suunto, the Core and Ambit3, then you could describe the Traverse as both a Suunto Core with a GPS and HR or as an Ambit3 Peak without the sports software and a smaller battery. Although over simplifying the situation a little, I think it leads you to the correct watch for your needs.

I think the Traverse is more like the Ambit3 than the Core so here are a few comparisons.

1. The Ambit 3 Peak has the multisport software whilst the Traverse does not. You can make different sports modes in both watches but you cannot swap between modes mid recording with the Traverse as you can with the Peak. The Traverse does not have the swimming pool length counting functionality, which fits with the Traverse being an outdoor GPS watch rather than a fitness one.

2. The Ambit 3 Peak has a bigger battery than the Traverse. Suunto.com lists the battery life in time mode as 30 days for the Ambit 3 Peak and  14 Days for the Traverse so probably half the capacity

3. The Traverse Compass has declination adjustment whilst the Ambit3 does not. Again reinforcing the outdoor positioning of the Traverse.

4. The GPS and navigational software is very similar. The Traverse offers a real time breadcrumb which the Ambit3 does not. GPS durations on the Traverse seem to be half that of the Ambit3 at the various recording rates, reinforcing the fact that the battery on the Traverse seems about half of that on the Ambit3.

5. Altimeter and barometer functions are pretty much the same

6. No foot or bike pod support on the Traverse as there is on the Ambit3. The Ambit3 also has many real time averaging functions for HR, speed, pace etc that the Traverse does not. However the Traverse woks perfectly with the Smart Sensor HR belt if you just want to know your actual HR.

7. Vibration. The Traverse can vibrate as well as beep, so things like the alarm clock and storm alarm are more likely to be noticed. It’s not as strong as the vibration on a phone, maybe half the strength, but is certainly better than sound alone.

8. Torch Mode. Another phone like feature, turning the backlight on and leaving it on until you press another button. The watch produces enough glow to find the keyhole on a door or just about light the way for your feet if you bend down a bit and walk slowly. Sort of a bit rubbish but may help you out and no penalty for having the feature.

Hope that has helped but if you have any questions then please give us a call on 01943 870550



Great new offer on Mountain Equipment Winter ’15 Products


Any winter 2015 Mountain Equipment product with an RRP between £100 and £200 will get a free Mountain Equipment Knitted Beanie, just like this one:

Any winter 2015 Mountain Equipment product with an RRP of more than £200 will get a free Mountain Equipment Crux Zip Tee, just like this one:

Check out our Mountain Equipment range HERE

Winter 2015/16 Waterproofs

It’s been a pretty wet end to October, luckily our winter range of waterproofs is in stock and ready to keep you dry. Plus we’re offering a free Rab Aeon Tee with Rab items priced over £99 and a Free Arc’teryx Beanie with Arc’teryx items priced over £150.




Pro Review – Suunto Ambit 3 Peak



Pro reviewer:


Over the past few years I’ve used a few watches such as altimeters for mountaineering and gps watches for running and training. Finally, with the Ambit 3 Peak I’ve got a watch that does everything in one package, plus a whole lot more. There are some great features that make this watch very suited to a mountaineer; a long battery life; barometric and GPS altimeter and easy to use navigation features such as the track back function, which will guide you back along your route (if you’ve been recording your progress that is). While not replacing a mapping GPS device the watches navigation features are very user friendly, with the option of uploading GPS waypoints via your computer. The Ambit 3 Peak really excels as a training aid for any endurance activity. The usual GPS functions such as distance covered and speed apply, but using the watch with the Suunto heart-rate strap gives you some useful training data, especially peak training effect and recovery time. Suunto’s online Movescount software is a well thought out resource, with the ability to sync to other services if you wish. You can also upload training plans or customised “workouts” to the watch, perfect for the dreaded interval sessions!


With an automatic software update in June 2015 you can use the heart rate strap and watch to monitor your recovery overnight, something that would have previously required expensive equipment and which Suunto have incorporated into the Ambit 3 for free.

The Ambit 3 peak is ready to use out of the box, but it is fully customisable if you wish, so you can change the displays or settings through the Movescount website or through the watch menus. There really are so many features on the Ambit 3 that it’s impossible to fit it into a short review like this, it really does have all the bells and whistles. I can’t recommend this watch highly enough.

You can find out more about Ben on our Mountain Guides page.

See full product information on the Ambit 3 Peak HERE.

Arcteryx Lithic Glove Review

Here is a review lifted from the Arcteryx blog about the Lithic Gloves. The review is by Andy Perkins, equipment officer for the British Mountain Guides.

Guiding Hands – British Mountain Guide Andy Perkins

Words and photo by Andy Perkins

The role of the hand in our psyche is deeply important. In documentary film work, one of the key shots any cameraman needs to get to complete a sequence is what the subject’s hands are doing. Through gestures and actions our hands communicate much more than we might suppose. This is especially true of the caring professions, where the cliché of “your life in their hands” is often quoted. Along with the classic caring roles such as medical or social care, I include the profession of mountain guide. We care for our clients, their safety and well-being, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Although they’re on holiday, our clients can sometimes be outside their comfort zones, and so the guiding hand becomes crucial in providing that care.

My hands are not only crucial for my work, but also for my life as a rock climber. As a student, I climbed every lunch time on a traversing wall, sometimes unable to take notes in afternoon lectures, as my hands were unable to type or hold a pen. By the time I was 20, my fingers and palms were so thick, stubby and heavily muscled a student friend remarked – “your hands look like tools”.

While I started life as a crag rat, my hands have also been abused horribly in the mountains. Anyone who’s suffered the agony of hot aches in the Scottish winter will be able to relate. It’s pain that can blur your vision, make you dizzy or nauseous with the one saving grace that you know it will be over in a few minutes, leaving your fingers warm and tingling and ready for the next pitch. Just don’t over-grip those axes!

Frostbite is more permanent, and while I’ve never lost entire digits, I was nipped about 25 years ago during an ascent of the 7000m high Pumori in Nepal. The ends of my middle fingers and thumbs went black but luckily all I lost was a few layers of skin. They’re still the part that loses feeling first, ringing alarm bells and telling me to take more care of my hands.

A guide’s hands have a myriad of jobs. The picture of a gloved hand holding coils of rope or an ice axe is a classic cliché, but we also need to adjust ski bindings, press buttons on cameras, avalanche transceivers or GPS units. Not only that; the hand is also a great communicator, especially when so much information is transmitted non-verbally. A hand on a client’s shoulder can make a huge difference at the right time, providing comfort, support or triggering extra concentration while vital verbal instruction is delivered. Arguably it’s even more powerful as an attention grabber than taking sunglasses off!

Hand care and protection are vital for a mountain guide, and clearly gloves are the way forward. Please – not mittens. Mittens are for kittens. For any practical task, I need to have all my fingers working, not just a thumb and one big wide finger. So gloves it is, and the search for the perfect glove continues. The problem is that the perfect glove, like the holy grail or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, doesn’t exist. We’re constantly balancing insulation versus dexterity. How cold, wet, snowy or icy is it? What tasks do our poor mistreated hands and fingers need to perform? For summer alpinism and spring ski touring, I work with fleece-lined leather gloves from the local hardware store. The header card shows a guy in a check shirt sat next to a pile of stacked logs looking very pleased with himself. But sometimes those log-stacking gloves don’t quite cut it, and I need something warmer.

Does the new Lithic glove from Arc’teryx do that job?

I’ve been testing a pair during autumn 2015. Straight off the shelf, they fit my wide hands and stubby fingers, so I can easily manipulate carabiners. The fingers are nicely curved to match my natural half closed grip. The elastic cuffs, both at wrist and forearm, tighten and release easily. The insulation is an excellent combination of warmth and dexterity. I’ve only gone down to about -5°C with a 70kmph wind so far with the Lithic, and kept warm. My feeling is that down to -10 or -15 they’ll be fine. The palm and fingers are lined with TPU which feels exceptionally durable. My gloves always wear out on the right palm from the friction of sliding ropes or picking up skis with well sharpened edges. The grip isn’t as good as a leather palm, but the glove will be warmer and more durable.

The Lithic feels like a great, durable glove. Your fingers should stay toasty, and you’ll be able to keep them on all day from first lift to après ski happy hour.

Arcteryx-AW15-Lithic-Glove-F1 (1)


New Suunto Traverse – in stock

The new Suunto Traverse is now in stock. See Stu’s first thoughts on the Traverse HERE and see specifications and buying options HERE.

The Traverse has all the outdoor functions of the Core including a barometric altimeter, it also features GPS and Bluetooth connectivity, so can be connected to a Heart Rate Belt and mobile phone, allowing you to make full use of the Movescount App.  It’s also a bit smaller than the Ambit 3 Peak.  It’s a great, fully equipped mountaineering watch!

Free Arcteryx Beanie with Winter 2015 Down Jackets


Our new Winter 2015 down is now in stock!

If you buy any Winter 2015 Down Jacket before 2pm this Monday then

you’ll be offered a free Arcteryx Bird Head Beanie worth £25!

Arcteryx Down


Mountain Equipment Down


Arcteryx Lithic Glove

Arcteryx-AW15-Lithic-Glove-F1 (1)

There was some debate a couple of seasons ago about whether a £180 glove was really a £125 glove with a silly price tag and perhaps there is no one answer to that question but you only had to have tried the Alpha SV glove on to appreciate that it was designed and made very differently to other gloves you had tried. In my opinion the best test of glove fit is ‘resistance to closure’ or what’s the glove like when you make a fist. The Alpha SV closed more like a liner glove than a full winter alpine glove.

Fast forward a couple of seasons and we have the New Lithic Glove.  The same great fit and dexterity of the Alpha SV but updated with a couple more seasons of glove know how. Arcteryx are proud of this glove. There is a an Arcteryx Blog Post about the Lithic Glove, and the video below. Coming soon we also have a review of the Lithic Glove by BMG Guide Andy Perkins. If you are considering a new premium ski glove for this winter then the Lithic should be on your shortlist.