Human beings have been using ropes for various purposes since prehistoric times, and before we started to make them, it’s likely that we used natural vines and creepers (see Tarzan). They have always been as integral to our lives as the wheel and were around long before. In this article you will find a little bit of history on ropes, how they are made, the different types, what they are used for and what things like impact force, elongation and number of falls mean.

Climbers have used ropes to safeguard themselves for as long as there has been climbing. The first types of ropes that were used were generally made of strands of Hemp or Sisal twisted or woven together. These early ropes had a very poor strength to weight ratio, were stiff and awkward to handle and often failed.

In 1941 the first nylon ropes were being produced in the USA and France, but 12 years later the German company Edelrid was to make the most significant breakthrough in climbing rope history. In 1953 they invented the Kernmantle rope, and this is what we are still using today. The word comes from the German word Kernmantel and means coat-protected core. This invention revolutionised climbing ropes; hemp ropes and rope breakage very quickly became a thing of the past.

Yet another breakthrough by Edelrid in 1964 saw the introduction of the first Dynamic rope, capable of withstanding multiple falls, and that was the grandaddy of the Dynamic rope we use today.

The Kernmantle rope

Kernmantle rope is how all climbing ropes are made today. The Kern is the core and the mantle the sheath

These ropes are chiefly made of nylon (polyamide), but are sometimes made of polyester, aramid and other man made fibers. The strength of the rope is made up of both parts, core and sheath, and the proportion of each depends on the type of rope you buy.

Dynamic rope

Dynamic ropes are constructed to stretch under load, and will absorb much of the energy exerted in a fall and this is what makes them so good for climbers. If a climber were to take even a small fall onto a rope with little or no dynamic properties the result would be serious injury and even death.

Another important factor for climbers is that the rope not only lessens the energy exerted on a climber in a fall, but also lessens the energy exerted on their anchors, making them much less likely to fail.

Semi-static rope

Often referred to as Static rope, this is, however, usually incorrect as most have some degree of stretch. Semi-static ropes are used extensively by industrial rope technicians but also by climbers for a number of jobs. Whilst it is sometimes possible to use a Semi-static rope for top or bottom roping, where there is absolutely no possibility of a shock load, these ropes must never be used for leading. The most common uses for these ropes are abseiling and rigging anchors.

The 3 Types of Dynamic rope

Dynamic rope comes in three different types and you will always find a symbol at each end of the rope to tell you which one it is.

  • Single Rope.This is a rope designed to be used on its own. Used across all climbing disciplines.
  • Half Rope. This is a rope designed to be used in conjunction with another half rope, and sometimes referred to as “Double Rope”. Each rope should be clipped into an independent anchor or running belay. Used by trad climbers and mountaineers.
  • Twin Rope. This is a rope designed to be used in conjunction with another twin rope. The big difference here is that both ropes must be clipped into the same anchor or running belay. Used by sport climbers and some mountaineers.

Rope diameters

All of the ropes we have mentioned come in a wide variety of diameters. From as little as 6.9mm right up to 16mm, however there are restrictions in diameter for each of the main types of ropes.

  • Single ropes are available from 8.9mm to 13mm
  • Half ropes are available from 6.9mm to 9mm
  • Twin ropes are available from 6.9mm to 9.1mm
  • Semi Static rope is available from 8.5mm – 16mm

Information found on dynamic ropes

As already mentioned all dynamic ropes will have a symbol to tell you which of the three types of rope it is. There is also a whole load of other info about the rope, typically found on the packaging and always found in the manufacturers recommendations, included.

UIAA

Union Internationale des Associations D’Alpinisme is the international mountaineering and climbing federation that has created the standards to which all dynamic climbing ropes with the U.I.A.A mark must adhere. The standard is 101, and EN 892. Whilst these numbers may mean very little to most, it’s important to make sure the rope you buy has been passed by the U.I.A.A. Any ropes without this marking should be avoided.

Number of Falls

This is the number of UIAA falls the rope can handle before it loses its dynamic properties and risks possible failure.

This marking can be very confusing to even fairly competent climbers. It does not mean that after you have taken the marked amount of falls, that you need to buy a new rope. The EN 892 test requires a single rope to hold a minimum of five factor 2 falls with 80kg at an impact force of less than 12kN.

To read more about fall factors, see our article on “Understanding Fall Factors”, but in brief, a fall factor greater than 1 is totally unacceptable and should never happen. If you do take a significant fall on your rope always make sure to have a good inspection of it afterwards.

The number of falls can give an indication of how robust the rope is, the more UIAA falls it can take, the harder wearing the rope will be.

Impact Force

This is a very useful figure in helping you decide which climbing rope you should buy . The impact force marking on a climbing rope is the amount of force in kN (kiloNewtons) that the first UIAA fall exerts on the falling body.

The aim is to create a rope with the least amount of impact force whilst staying within the maximum elongation figures. This means less force transferred from the rope to the climber, belayer and anchors, massively reducing the risk of injury or anchor failure. This is especially important to trad and ice climbers.

So, a rope that has a higher impact force will be more durable, but also transfer more force, in the event of a fall, onto the climber and the anchors; and rope with a lower impact force will be a little less durable, but transfer less force, in the event of a fall, onto the climber and the anchors.

Static Elongation

This is the amount of stretch in the rope when a 80kg weight is hung from it.

Dynamic Elongation

This is the amount of stretch in the rope after the first UIAA fall test. We already know that having stretch in your climbing rope is essential, but if it has too much stretch then there is a very high risk of a climber hitting a ledge or even the ground, so the UIAA sets the maximum elongation of a rope to 40% of the rope that’s paid out. So a fall onto 10m of paid out rope cannot exceed more than 4m of stretch, and this needs some considering when you’re climbing.

Sharp Edge Test

This is no longer required by the UIAA,  but to increase safety a number of rope manufacturers still use it. It basically tells you how your rope may resist cutting when in contact with sharp edges.

Sheath Slippage

The sheath on a badly made climbing rope can stretch out of sync with the core and this will mean the rope will become lumpy and, in the extreme, dangerous. The Sheath Slippage test is the only test where the CE (EuroNorm) requirement differs from that of the UIAA. After pulling two metres of rope through a designated constriction, the European Standard requires that the sheath slippage should be less than 40mm, or 2%, whilst the UIAA standard is more severe, requiring a value less than 20mm, or 1%. However, many modern climbing ropes achieve 0% or very close to 0%.

Sheath Percentage

This will tell you what proportion of your rope is sheath, compared to core. A larger sheath proportion will normally mean that the rope is more abrasion resistant and smaller sheath proportion can mean a lower impact force.

Regulations for Semi-static Ropes

Whilst Semi-static or Low Stretch ropes do come under UIAA guidelines, standard 107, this standard is based on the European Standard 1891:1998. Semi-static ropes come in two types. Type A and Type B. Type A is the most commonly used as it conforms to all of the standards of EN 1891, whereas Type B ropes do not, and as such should only be used after careful risk assessment.

Treatments

There are far too many different types of rope treatments to be able to cover them all in this article. In general the most important one will be some form of dry treatment, to stop the rope absorbing too much water. This is most important to winter climbers and mountaineers. Ropes obviously become far heavier when they are wet and of course in cold temperatures can freeze, making them very hard to handle and in the extreme, very dangerous.

All good rope manufacturers offer a number of different choices in dry treated ropes, the most basic will be a simple treatment that is applied to the sheath only, and will essentially make your rope water resistant, but not water proof. After prolonged exposure, they will eventually absorb water into the core. However this type of treatment is really all you need if you’re trad climbing, and sport climbing.

A more expensive alternative is a fully dry treated rope, such as Golden Dry, from Beal. This means the sheath and the core have both been treated, and will give you the best protection from the elements.

Another useful benefit of either dry treatment is that it will often make your rope a little more durable, meaning it may last a bit longer.

Other treatments include, heating the rope to give it smoother handling characteristics, like Edelrid’s Thermo Shield, Beal’s new Unicore technique actually binds the sheath to the core resulting in a rope that has absolute zero sheath slippage, and is far safer in the event that the sheath is cut.

Lifespan

Like any piece of climbing kit, your rope’s lifespan will depend entirely on how often and where you use it, and also on how well you look after it. Some manufacturers will offer guidelines for maximum shelf life and also maximum working life. These are only guidelines and climbers need to develop their own opinions on when a rope should be retired. Don’t be tempted to ‘downgrade’ your rope from an outdoor to an indoor rope or similar. It is either safe to use or not safe to use, it makes no difference where it’s used.

To Sum Up

This article is meant as a basic introduction to ropes, and there is much more extensive information available in books and online for those who want it.

Since companies like Edelrid began making climbing ropes over 150 years ago, the technological advances have been enormous, but it’s worth considering that we are still using the basic design of the Kernmantle rope invented 56 years ago.

Of course, there are some truly amazing and unique ropes available now, like Beal’s Hotline, a rope using an Aramid sheath under a normal sheath, giving resistance to harmful chemicals, or the Raider also by Beal, that can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees Celsius for up to an hour and still retain 90% of its strength.

Lastly, your rope – no matter how well it’s made – will only maintain its strength and safety if you look after it properly. Always thoroughly read the manufacturer’s recommendations before you use a new rope, and make sure you know how old your rope is.

After spending a month in the Arapiles, Australia doing almost everyday of trad climbing, I really learned to embrace nuts and wires. This is also known as passive protection.  Passive protection is the term used to describe leader placed protection that has no moving parts. This seems like a good time to share some knowledge and experience on the subject.  It really is an awesome way to climb!

 

Passive protection is generally the first type of pro (short for protection) a new climber will buy. It tends to be considerably cheaper than active protection (camming devices etc), and will give you numerous placement options. Before you head out and buy your first lot of passive pro, take some time to research the areas where you are intending on climbing, as different rock types will often suit some kit better than others.

Standard Nuts

The mainstay of the Trad climbers rack. Also known as wires, these are wedge shaped “nuts” on a wire. They fit in small, medium and largish sized cracks, and when well placed are bomber. Most, if not all, are colour coded by size and and are compatible with other brands. A set of these is generally one of the first things to buy when starting out. There are subtle differences between brands, like weight, shape etc, but they all share much the same characteristics and it’ll come down to personal choice and budget.

Micro Nuts

As small as protection gets. These provide marginal protection for tiny cracks and weaknesses. The strength ratings are far lower than standard nuts, so make sure you know their limits. These are something to add to your rack as you go along, and not something you’ll need straight away. Some micro nuts, like the DMM I.M.P (Immaculate Marginal Protection) are made from brass which can offer a little more bite when shock loaded.

Offset Nuts

Sometimes referred to as HB’s after Hugh Banner, the man who invented them. These are available in both standard and micro sizes. The offset shape of the nut means that they are particularly good in placements where a normal nut will simply not hold. Peg scars, tapered and flaring cracks are far easier to protect with an offset. You don’t have to start out with these, but they will give you loads more options to place good gear. Theres only five sizes and they compliment the bigger standard rock nuts very well.

Hexes & Torques

Very large nuts, originally designed by Yvon Chouinard of Black Diamond, for protecting large cracks. Generally one of the first things to buy when starting out, and a lot cheaper than cams. When carefully placed, so that the sling is slightly rotated towards the top of the unit, force exerted in the event of a fall will actually rotate the unit slightly and cam it into the rock, creating an even safer placement.

Tri-cams

These really belong in the cam family, but still have no moving parts as such. By rolling the head back so that it rests on the sling section and placing it into a crack, it will cam into the rock and become very stable when loaded. These are not something you need when starting out. They are excellent for use in the winter. Proper cam units become unsafe when placed in iced up cracks, but you can give a tri-cam a little love tap with your hammer and its far more likely to hold in the event of a fall. They can be a pain to get out though!

Nut Key

Totally essential if you want to come home with all your nuts! There quite a few to choose from , and generally it will come down to your budget and taste. Some things to look out for are, whether it has a hook or hooks to help release a stuborn cam trigger, someway to tighten a loose bolt, weight, and durability. Its often wise for the leader to carry their own nut key as well as the second, incase they need to retrieve a badly placed bit of gear.

So a good starter rack might include the following;

  • Standard rock nuts – one full set
  • Hexes or tourques – one full set
  • Nut Key – One

A few worthwhile additions might be;

  • Offsets – one full set
  • Standard nuts – Sizes 1-6 (or more)
  • Superlights (Wild Country) – One full set

​And for a little further down the road;

  • Brass offsets – One full set
  • Tri-cams – Various sizes
  • Peenuts (or simular) – 1-2 full sets

As mentioned at the start, this will vary based on what type of rock you climb, your grade, and personal preference.

Interested in trying trad climbing?  Contact us, and we can get you started on the journey to the freest form of safe outdoor climbing.  Trad climbing!

After a long day hike, what you really want is a good sumptuous meal to end off your day. At the same time, weight of your backpack matters. You are not going to have the luxury of bringing the whole kitchen and all kinds of food ingredients to achieve a hearty meal. This is why many adventure-seekers on multi-day expedition always opt to bring dehydrated food with them whilst camping outdoors, as dehydration process can considerably reduce the weight of the original meal. (In our case, we cooked some Thai curry rice and before dehydration process, the weight was 2.2kg grams. After dehydration, the curry rice weighed 700 grams, almost 1.5kg of water lost!)

Step 1: Plan your Menu and Quantity

Planning your menu and quantity is definitely the most important part of the process. You need to know what kind of food is ideal for dehydration and is easy to rehydrate. From the multiple times of dehydrated food preparation, we realise that vegetables such as cabbages, lettuce, tomatoes, onions still taste good after rehydration. Meat such as beef can be dehydrated too, but in the process of rehydration, it is highly recommended to let it sit in hot water and cook over slow fire for a longer time for the meat to be soft.

Step 2: Cook your Meals

This is the fun part. To cook your own meals! There are a lot of recipes available that would make perfect dehydrated food. Our top choices are Spaghetti bolognaise, Thai curry rice, Fried noodles, Mashed potatoes with chili con beans. Make sure the food is cooked thoroughly before you dehydrate them.

Step 3: Dehydrate your Meals

We used a food dehydrator to dehydrate all our camping food. Different dehydrators will work differently and will take different amount of time to dehydrate different food. You may refer to the guide with your food dehydrator as a reference. In our case, to dehydrate 2.2kg of Thai curry rice, the dehydration process took a total of 8 hours.  Some food took lesser time than others, depending on the water content in the food as well. We usually check the food to make sure it is crisp and dry before we conclude the food has been fully dehydrated.

Step 4: Pack and Vacuum Seal

We vacuum seal all our food to ensure freshness and make sure it is compact for carrying when we are on our adventures.

Notes:

  • If you are slicing food ingredients, do attempt to slice them in similar sizes so that they will dry at the same speed
  • Our dehydrator fan is at the top of the tray. We noticed that the tray closest to the fan dries the fastest. Hence, for the food to dry evenly, we rotate the orders of the tray stacked so that they can dry evenly

Step 5: Rehydrate and Eat!

After all this hard work in preparing your food, the process of rehydration is easy. Add in hot water to your food, let it sit for approximately an hour. Cook the food over slow heat and keep stirring. A warm and yummy meal is ready to eat!

 

Ready to try a great trek and a great meal?  Holy Ridge Trek, Taiwan 2019.  Sign up today!

As we start planning for our great treks in 2019, it’s a good chance to spotlight one of our favourites in 2018! The Stok Kangri trek, has amazing scenery, incredible people, and of course the challenge of summiting a 6000+ meter peak.  The three days of acclimatising in the mountain town of Leh, India made it just the right combination of interacting with the local culture, and taking on the big mountains!

Leh, Ladakh Region, India

The Team on the Mountain

The Journey to Base Camp

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Middle Camp, Mannkorma 4730 Meters ASL

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Summit Morning

View from the North-West Ridge

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The Summit ( 6153m ASL)

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Happy Times on Top

Exciting times and a great season for Stok Kangri.  We finished the trip with an exciting day of White Water Rafting to keep the adrenaline flowing thru our veins!  Ready to try it?  Sign up for Stok Kangri 2019!

One of the most common questions I hear when working with beginners is “What type of belay device is best to buy?” Buying your first belay device can seem a little confusing, with many different types to choose from. A simple understanding of how they work will help you make your choice. Here is a brief outline of the the different types available and their common uses.

Standard Friction Device

These are the most common belay devices used by climbers. Whilst they all look a little different, and have some different features, they essentially work in the same way. The belayer will control the rate of descent of a falling or descending climber, by pulling the “dead” rope tight, this causes friction on the rope by forcing it into a tight bend. Almost all standard belay devices can also be used to abseil with.

  • These are the best devices for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Good for all climbing disciplines. Some of these devices, like the Black Diamond XP have small grooves that increase the friction on the rope and can be a good choice if your partner is considerably heavier than you.
 Stitch Plate (Rarely Used Anymore)
Black Diamond ATC

 

Assisted Breaking Devices

These are devices that assist the belayer in arresting a falling climber by locking when the rope moves through them at a certain speed. Often incorrectly referred to as Automatic or Auto-Locking.  Many indoor gyms are requiring ABDs these days.

  • These devices always require a vigilant and experienced belayer. Less versatile than a standard device, as almost all of them can only be used with one rope. Often used by sport climbers when working a route, and also favoured by big wall climbers.

Petzl Grigri 2

Edelrid Eddy

Petzl Grigri 1

Guide Plates

Sometimes known as “magic plates”, these devices generally work in the same way as a standard device, but can also be used in guide mode by instructors to bring up two clients. In guide mode they will lock in the event that one or both of the clients fall onto the rope.

  • Used by instructors and mountaineers, these devices are a little heavier than standard devices and generally more expensive. These are the most versatile of belay devices, sharing most of the characteristics of both assisted and standard devices. Almost always capable of single or double rope use.

Black Diamond ATC Guide

Petzl Reverso 4

DMM Pivot

Single and Double Rope Devices

Most standard belay devices will work with either a single or double rope, but there are some available that are for single ropes only, like the  Climbing Technology Click-Up. Virtually all assisted devices only work with one rope. If you intend to climb outside in any way, then it almost always makes sense to buy a device that can handle two ropes.

Most new climbers will buy the device that they used when learning how to belay.

All belay devices have different characteristics. Some will be better suited to smaller diameter ropes, some have grooves on one side to aid braking, and some don’t. If you require any further help with choosing your belay device, then please feel free to email us and we are happy to answer any questions!

If you are still unsure, or new to climbing then you can join us for our one of our certification courses or better still one of our rock climbing clinics.

Picking a tent for your backpacking adventures can be a bit overwhelming, with the amount of choices there are these days.  Here are a few things to consider when deciding on your backpacking tent.  No one tent fits every situation, but with a few points in mind, you can find that home away from home that will give you a good night’s sleep.

PRICE – You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a great backpacking tent, but  there are some expensive options out there. If you backpack a lot, it may make sense to spend more on a quality product that will get many years of use. If you’re looking for choices that will be easier on your wallet, think about secondhand backpacking tents. Plenty of options out there for a secondhand tent

WEIGHT – A few grams here and there might not seem like a big deal, but keeping pack weight down is critical for enjoying backpacking trips. Lightweight tents make hiking more fun, and that’s what it’s all about. Your tent will be one of the four heaviest items you carry (shelter, backpack, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad), so it’s a great place to keep weight to a minimum.

PROTECTION – A backpacking tent that doesn’t protect against the elements is worse than worthless, it’s dangerous. So be careful about extreme budget tents you’ll find elsewhere. Every tent on this list will provide excellent storm protection to keep you safe, dry, and warm when properly used.

INTERIOR SPACE – Backpacking tents keep weight to a minimum by limiting interior space (and thus, use less material). Most two-person tents have room for two sleepers and a few stuff sacks, with backpacks and extra gear stored in the vestibules. If you want more interior space for camping comfort, you may want to go up one size in your tent (for example, buy a 3-person tent to fit 2 hikers). Just remember, interior tent space is a tradeoff between comfort and weight. If you prefer hiking light and crushing miles, stick with a 2-person model for two hikers. If you’re willing to carry more weight for camping comfort, you may want to go up one tent size.

CAPACITY – 1-Person tents are great for dedicated solo adventurers looking to hike fast and light. 2-Person tents tend to be the most popular, because they strike a good balance between weight and interior space, just don’t expect the interior to be palatial. 3 & 4-Person tents tend to get crowded and impractical, though they can be a good fit for 2 or 3 hikers wanting more interior space for gear storage and extended hangouts.

SEASON RATING – 3-season shelters are the most popular backpacking tents. They’re built for spring, summer, and fall trips where you’ll need to keep bad weather out while promoting air circulation. 3-Season tents can usually handle a little snow, but they’re not made for heavy snow and winter conditions. But a solid 3-season tent can handle a lot of winter conditions, with the correct sleeping bag.

DESIGN – A single design flaw can easily ruin an otherwise solid backpacking tent. Great tents keep design elements simple and include multiple doors, adequate vestibule space, lots of headroom, air vents to reduce condensation, and interior pockets for gear storage. Personally I prefer a 2 door design, but the trade off is that the tent will weigh more because of additional door and zippers.

SETUP – Freestanding tents are generally prefered because they’re easier to use and quicker to pitch. They come with a fixed pole system that can be set up almost anywhere, even on solid rock. Non-freestanding tents use stakes, guylines, and trekking poles for pitching. They save weight by cutting out tent poles, but require more time and space to pitch, and will take more practice to master.

WALL CONSTRUCTION – Double-wall tents come with two separate parts – a mesh tent body and a rainfly. The mesh inner-tent acts as a barrier from any condensation that forms on the inside of the rainfly. Single-wall tents reduce weight by ditching the mesh inner-tent, but that leaves hikers vulnerable to interior condensation in wet and cold conditions. Rubbing up against a wet tent interior is not fun. We recommend double-wall tents, unless you generally backpack in dry climates.

DOORS & VESTIBULES – If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent, it’s more comfortable to have two doors and vestibules. Having separate entrances will ensure that you’re not climbing over a tentmate and two sets of gear every time you want to get in or out of your tent.

DURABILITY – The main tradeoff with certain tents styles is that they’re built using thinner materials that tend to be less durable than heavy-duty shelters. That said, ultralight tents will last for thousands of miles if treated with a little care. It’s also important to remember that a sharp stick will go through just about any kind of tent fabric.

FOOTPRINT – Most tents don’t come with a footprint these days and many backpackers view them as unnecessary. The main benefit of a footprint is adding durability to the floor of your tent. A footprint will protect your tent floor from abrasion, so it will last longer and need fewer repairs. If you’re willing to carry some extra weight to extend the life of your tent, consider picking up a footprint.

Whatever your backpacking condition or trail may be, a tent can make or break the trip.  On a recent trek in Taiwan, the day conditions were extreme with the amount of bamboo bashing thru daily.  By the end of the day we just wanted to get in the tent and relax.  Our Marmot Limelight 3p tent was our relaxing villa on this intense trek!

 

Just recently finished a particularly challenging trek in Taiwan, which was a combination of all the elements:  Hot, Cold, Wet, Dry, Flat Terrain, Steep Terrain, I was happy with my choice of boots that got me thru this 7 day challenging hike.  As tough as it was, it could have been a lot worse with the wrong shoe.  I thought it’s a good time to review some good shoe qualities for trekking in different terrain.  Here are a few bullet points to consider…

Weight of your shoe: You would want your shoe to be light without compromising on the grip and support. Since you wont be carrying your shoe but wearing it, you can do with slightly heavy shoe unless you feel that the weight of the shoe will degrade your walking capacity on the trek. If you are expecting to carry a heavy load on your back while trekking, which you would ideally do, light shoes are not likely for you. In that case, you will need a high ankle trekking shoe ( generally called trekking boot ) with a good sole, and strong ankle and heel support. These kind of shoe are bit heavier but are ideally designed for treks in a rough terrain and lasts longer. A shoe gets heavier for the materials used to make it.

Ankle ProtectionAnkle protection is must in the rough terrain. Ankle support is a very important safety feature. You do not want to return from a trek due to a painful twisted ankle. A better ankle protection should properly cover your ankle and provide support from heel up so that it restricts uncontrolled sideward feet movement inside your shoe. Mid cut and High Cut trekking shoes are the ones to talk about as they provide better support. High cut provides the maximum support and is ideal for a multiday trek. Mid cut too provides good support and can be considered depending on the terrain of your trek and the weight you will be carrying on your back.     

Cushioning and Padding: A  shoe needs to be comfortable and well padded. Each day you will be walking with it on rough terrains, with weight, for an average time of 5 – 6 hours. Further, if you are not carrying an extra camping shoe or a slip on slipper, you will have to be in your shoe for prolonged period of time. Considering these factors, you need a well padded shoe. A good padding will protect your heel, ankle foot base and make you forget about your shoe while trekking. 

Insulation: Trekking usually involves venturing to the high altitude zones where you will experience different temperatures. Although you can increase the insulation by layering your socks but too many socks can make you uncomfortable and make your shoe feel tighter. Therefore, you would want your shoe also to provide some kind of insulation from the cold. Waterproofing ( discussed separately ) is a very important feature here. Different brands have different insulation technology. 

Strength of StitchesThis is a self explanatory but an important feature to look for. With branded shoes, you can stay unworried on this. However, make sure that no stitches are present in the friction prone sections of the shoe as it may tear the stitches and damage your shoe rather quickly. 

Size And Fit: In a trek, you should feel comfortable in your shoes. The size and fit plays an important  role here. It also help keep blisters away. While trying your shoe, keep in mind that you will be sometimes using 2 layers of woolen socks to protect from cold. Few may wear even more. Your shoes should have that extra space for it. Its not at all a bad idea to carry 2 woolen socks to the store and try your shoes after wearing those. Also, make sure you keep some space for toe movement. Toe movement will not only keep you away from frost bite, but the air in the space will provide insulation as well to keep your feet warm. The extra space in toe will also protect from hurting your toe while descending. Generally it is advised to buy a size larger to accommodate space for socks and toe space. Hit the toe on the floor to check the impact on the toe, or if the store has a declined plane, test the toe fit by descending on it. 

Water Proofing and Breatheability:  Waterproof boot is vital for multiday treks where weather can be unpredictable.  Ultimately there is still a good chance your boot will get wet, but waterproofed boots will help to keep most of the water outside the boot.  Check for a boot that has the Gore-tex logo or tag on it.  These are some of the better materials to ensure your boot is waterproof.

These are just a few points to consider when buying a trekking boot.  It’s very important to wear them in first before starting the trek.  Breaking in a boot on the trail can cause blisters more rapidly than a boot that is already broken in.  If you have more questions, email us and we are happy to answer questions!

The Great Himalaya Trail which is one of the world highest and longest footpaths is more adventurous destination in any of other trekking. Spanning several hundred kilometers of amazing Himalayan terrain, this trail stretches over the full length of Nepal. For those looking for the cutting edge of adventure trek, Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) presents the opportunity of a lifetime. The trail itself passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the Himalayas – winding under the highest mountain peaks in the world. You can trek, run or bike the trail, take the high route and challenge yourself with some mountaineering, or try the lower route and travel from village to village. It is the most dramatic, traversing the entirety of Nepal from east to west in the shadows of the world’s highest peaks. The Great Himalaya Trail will provide you with a truly unforgettable outdoor adventure of a lifetime.

Great Himalayan Trail

Though, the route is not official (unavailable for trekking), Robin Boustead in 2008 for the first time completed the Nepal section and proposed an idea of it being the longest trail, if developed accordingly. The major purpose of developing this trail is to bring benefits of tourism and develop livelihoods in remote mountain communities. Potentially, the longest and highest walking track in the world, the long- term vision for the trail is to develop it further, to cover more than 4,500 km of the Great Himalayan range, connecting six Asian countries- Pakistan, China (Tibet Autonomous Region), India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. You can trek, run or bike the trail, take the high route and challenge yourself with some mountaineering, or try the lower route and travel from village to village.

History Of The Great Himalayan Trail

The formation of a trail along the Greater Himalaya Range was precluded by access restrictions to certain areas in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan requiring detours into the mid-hills away from the Greater Himalaya Range. With time these access restrictions were eased or lifted, and in 2002, with further restrictions being lifted in border areas of Nepal, it became feasible for the first time. After years of research, documentation, and mapping, the concept of Great Himalaya Trail was walked for the first time in 2008 and 2009 by a team led by Robin Boustead. The first trip ran from February through August of 2011 and was completed successfully in 157 days.

There are two routes encompassing the Great Himalaya Trail: the high route and the low route. True to its name, the high route winds its way through 3,000 to 5,000 meter high terrain, with the Himalayan giants watching over as you trek your way through snowy paths with very few trees and villages along the way. The low route, on the other hand, though not as challenging as the high route is more culturally stimulating, as it passes through numerous Nepali villages and communities. However, you may not get as intimate views of the Himalayan peaks as you would on the high route. You can of course, alternate between the high and low routes at various points during the full trek.

Trekking along the GHT high route makes for an unforgettable adventure and the trip of a lifetime. The proposed trail would stretch over a distance of about 1,700 km and passes through spectacular, high altitude mountain landscapes, visiting some of the most remote villages on earth, where life remains as it was centuries back.

Trekking along the GHT high route requires to cross high passes with altitudes up to 6,146 m and the whole trek takes about 150 days on average. Proper trekking gear and mountaineering equipment is needed and anyone attempting this trek should be physically fit and have trekking and ideally some mountaineering experience. For safety, a local mountain guide who knows the terrain is definitely recommended especially in high altitudes. Due to the remoteness of the proposed route, camping is required for most parts of the adventure therefore a tent, food and cooking equipment is necessary.

The GHT low route – also called the cultural route – winds through the countries mid hills with an average altitude of 2000m. However, there are many passes to cross with the highest being the Jang La at 4519 m between Dhorpatan and Dolpa in West-Nepal. Trekking along the proposed GHT low route means walking through beautiful lush forests, pastures, green rice terraces and fertile agricultural land, providing the basis for Nepal’s rich culture and civilization. You will come across local settlements of many different cultural groups, giving you the chance to see what authentic Nepali village life is all about.

For most parts of the trek, you’ll be able to stay in small guesthouses or home stays, but make sure to still take your tent for some of the more remote sections of the route. With lots of local restaurants around, trekkers will find a place to eat almost everywhere and so will not necessarily need to carry large amounts of food. Shorter than the high route, the GHT low route stretches over a distance of 1,500 km and the whole trek will roughly take around 100 days.

 

You love diving and adventure travel, so you’re taking the plunge (excuse the pun) and booking yourself on your first liveaboard! With so many options, how can you possibly decide among all the available choices? Here are a few considerations when planning the ultimate dive holiday.

Island Diving Maldives Liveaboard

Location
Research how to reach your dive adventure destination. Some trips might have different start and end points, so consider travel time. When travelling to remote areas, give yourself enough time to get there. Consider flight delays, re-routing, and religious holidays. You might not always get connecting flights on the same day.

Also consider the season. Is it “peak” season due to weather, diving conditions, or marine life migrations? If your dream is to see manta rays, hammerheads, or whale sharks, research whether they remain year round or are seasonal.

Type of Diving
Are you looking for crazy currents? Mindblowing macro? Pelagics? Or a little bit of everything. Make sure you do your research on the type of diving available. Also consider the time of the month you are going. In some places the currents are tied to the moon phase, often with the strongest currents being around new and full moon.

Be aware if your operator has a set daily/weekly plan for dive sites. If they have a set plan that does not deviate, and you are in an area where there can be strong currents, be confident that you can handle yourself in any conditions.

Group Size
Bigger isn’t always better…

When diving, especially if the conditions are challenging, smaller groups can be much better. Up to 8 divers per group is common, but on some boats, groups can be as small as 4 divers to one guide. That’s almost personal service!

liveaboard komodo

Cost
Much like bigger isn’t always better – more expensive does not always equate to better service. There are “flashpacker” style boats with shared toilets, cold showers, and sleeping on deck. Then there are the luxury boats with aircon, ensuite toilets, maybe even a jacuzzi on the sundeck! You are there to dive, but consider what level of comfort and service you want on the boat also. Some divers will love the phinisi style boats that have a pirate-like feel; others prefer the roomy modern boats with wifi service and a bar.

Dive Maldives Emperor Liveaboard  

Certification and Experience
Some operators expect a minimum level of certification – generally advanced diver – and some may require at least 100 logged dives. This could be because the majority of dive sites are deeper, or subject to more challenging conditions. Safety first. There are also liveaboards for the less experienced divers! Consider how comfortable you are in water and plan accordingly.

Dive Safely
Above all, pick a good operator. Like any other adventure sport, diving comes with skill requirements and safety measures. On a liveaboard, you will typically be exploring more far flung sites, possibly without any other means of transportation or ready access to medical facilities. Make sure you choose an operator who is experienced in the area, knows the site very well and has a good safety record.

New Zealand is a well-known destination for adventure sports and adrenaline junkies. From skydiving to ski-touring, from glacier walking to rock climbing to hiking and trekking, the South Island of New Zealand, in particular, has lots to offer the intrepid traveler.

What is less known is that you need not be a veteran mountaineer or experienced adventure seeker to enjoy the great outdoors of New Zealand. Many of the hikes in New Zealand can be done in just one day. This suits the beginners to hiking who want to ease themselves into the activity, or for the more seasoned who just want to do some training hikes.

In preparation for our 5-day expedition in March 2018 to Rabbit Pass in Wanaka https://www.wildfirexpeditions.com/lessons-waterfall-rabbit-pass-new-zealand/ , we tackled Scotts Track for higher intensity gradient training. Having hiked mostly tropical mountains thus far, I was captivated by the beauty of the alpine scenery of the Arthurs’ Pass National Park. Compared to the lofty peaks of the Himalayas, the mountains of New Zealand can seem deceptively small. But the challenge is not so much in altitude as terrain, dramatic changes in weather and microclimates. As a first-timer hiker in New Zealand, here are my lessons learnt:

1) Always check the weather forecast at the local Department of Conservation (“DOC”) i-site

New Zealand has a number of Great Walks and the DOC has done a wonderful job of supporting these routes with plenty of useful information and tools for the independent hiker. The weather forecast in New Zealand is remarkably accurate. Tuning in will enable you to plan your route well, prepare the necessary gear and keep dry.

2) Safety first

In the words of famed American mountaineer Ed Viesturs ”Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory”. Always make a plan and set a turnaround time and pay close attention to the time. Look out for signs of impending weather changes. A point of caution is that the weather can change very rapidly in New Zealand. We have made the decision to turn back just an hour shy of the end point when the visibility turned bad and the clouds started rolling in. Our mantra is: Live to hike another day.

3) Prepare your gear

Always waterproof your bag. You never know when the sky will suddenly open up. Take rain gear, warm clothing, rain cover and enough food and water for contingency. A torchlight or a headlamp should be a mainstay of every tramper’s packing list. Pack light, pack smart, pack efficient. You do not want to be weighed down by unnecessary luxuries when you are only doing a day hike. Place snacks, water, light, rain cover, rain jacket at easily accessible points, preferably enabling you access without having to remove the entire pack to save time and for ease of access on the go.

4) Do not feed the animals

Through our day hike, we encountered many Kea, those beautiful birds indigenous to the South Island of New Zealand, the world’s only alpine parrot.  Known for their curiosity, Keas can be very friendly and approach hikers to a close distance. We have been warned by the locals not to feed them. Although keas are not aggressive by nature, hikers have changed their behavior. Some hikers have been feeding the keas encountered on the trail, leading to these birds now recognizing hikers as food source and sometimes pecking at their backpacks or trying to snatch food when hikers stop for a snack break. Do not feed the animals. Respect Nature as you see it.

5) Smell the roses and have fun

Well there are a number of considerations in preparing for a day hike, they should not detract from the main purpose – to have an enjoyable time. The slopes of New Zealand are beautiful at any time of the year. If it is your first time, pick a good season where the weather pattern is the most stable, when the paths are clear of snow and ice. Do your research and plan your trip. Visit the DOC website and do a walk in the day before your planned start to check for updates. Once you hit the trail, pay attention to what’s around you. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air. Luxuriate in the wonders of Nature and have fun.