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Date & start time: Monday evening / Tues morning, 2nd / 3rd November 2009.

Location of Start : Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, Uk ( SH 717 578 )

Places visited : Bryn Engan Farmhouse, PyB main building . . . and the bar !

Walk details : A whole quarter of a mile . . . three times !

Highest point : The talks and the Brenin Ales afterwards.

Walked with : My colleague Paul, 8 other course members, plus 4 Mountain Equipment and Gortex staff.

[ Click on the logo opposite to access each site ]


After a cool, damp day on the hills we returned to Bryn Engan farm house for a bite to eat.

This is a self catering establishment . . . but not for the course members, as the boss did the cooking tonight !

Dark evenings and poor weather make it seem even later than it actually was according to my watch.

Richard and Martin of Mountain Equipment prepare the gear, prior to the evening talk.

Mountain Equipment are one of the leading UK outdoor gear companies and the purpose of this course was to give retail staff from various parts of the country a chance to meet and chat with them, so as to understand their clothing ideas, what it does, how it was designed and how it differs from other brands out there in the market place.

Well let's see how well I was paying attention !

Step forward the jackets . . .

The black Morpheus lightweight waterproof , the red Kongur and blue Ogre Pro Shell,

the G2 Alpine soft shell and the Shroud hoody fleece (colours may vary from the ones some of us used during the day).

The Morpheus is a lighter and shorter Gortex Pro Shell jacket which would be great for 3 season walking and scrambling. It's a tough jacket but less protective length wise and the hood doesn't cope with a helmet I think they said.

Most of the guys today used the Ogre which is a great all year round mountain jacket, sufficiently long to give good weather protection, reasonable pockets and a good hood. It used Gortex's Pro Shell waterproof, windproof and highly breathable fabric.

The Kongur is basically the same length and style but with armpit zips and extra pocket which I personally find useful.

The Changabang (not in picture) was a shorter jacket to allow more mobility, especially useful for rock climbing or Alpine use. It had loads of pockets and a helmet sized hood for obvious reasons.

What Richard pointed out was that price was dependant on features and that each jacket was designed for a specific job.

These principles can be applied to all makes, be they Berghaus, Hagloff, Sprayway, Marmott or whatever we stock in our individual shops.

Customers shouldn't think that expensive is best . . . "the one best suited to you" is the best . . . and that may not be the most expensive one !

- - - o o o - - -


As demand grows

they are producing more and more Ladies fit jackets.

These tend to have more shapely fit,

wider hips and shorter arms,


Dare I say, a bit like Laura here !


- - - o o o - - -

Warm gloves were discussed and the advantages of man-made Primaloft seemed a good idea,

but a fibre pile glove with a thick more course fleecy lining was also complimented because it was easier to get on and off when your hands were wet.

- - - o o o - - -

We also discussed the importance of the hood,

how it fits,

and how the technical jackets have larger hoods

to cope with climbing helmets.

- - - o o o - - -

We talked about trousers and over-trousers.

The principles of the Gortex fabric was discussed in relation to over trousers and we touched on the various weights of mountain pants,

the advantages of Paclite, Standard (performance) Gortex, Pro Shell and even the competition (E-vent and Paramo).

Some of the lads enjoyed wearing the M.E. mountain sallopettes (with braces) today in the winter showers and so we discussed this further.

- - - o o o - - -

Paul and Roger are wearing . . .

Well on the trouser front both are wearing soft-shell trousers.

Mine were Schoeller Fabric Combin Pants which were warm without being hot, were windproof and had an element of water repellency.

Paul's were a similar but closer fitting soft shell with a bottom zip for a neater fit around the ankle.

Both were excellent in this cold showery weather and neither of us bothered putting our waterproofs on for today's walk !

- - - o o o - - -

Paul's was an Ogre Jacket and mine a G2 Soft Shell Alpine Jacket.

His favourite piece of kit . . . the hooded fleece with thumb holes at the wrist.

- - - o o o - - -

I was very impressed with the gear I borrowed and used on both days.

The soft shell kept out all the wind, the cold, the rain shower, the hail, the sleet and (see tomorrow) the snow.

It's limits are reached when trying to keep out the heavy or continuous rain, so a Gortex coat of some sort would be an advantage on very wet days.

Saying that, I never found the need for the Ogre Jacket on top of the G2 Alpine for either of these two outings . . . now that means it's a versatile coat !

- - - o o o - - -

At the end of the evening Richard also discussed the current Astron Jacket and the new Powershield soft shell due at the end of the year.

If I liked the G2 Alpine, I would love the other two even more . . . well there's always something better isn't there ?

Please note . . . it must be said :

Any technical specs or product features mentioned here are based on my memory and scribbled notes on the back of my hand

and not on any specific product information or leaflets.

Any opinions here are purely mine and may or may not reflect those of Mountain Equipment, Gortex or George Fisher Ltd.

- - - o o o - - -

After dinner we adjourned to Plas y Brenin to enjoy the rest of the evening.

A walk round and a pint at the bar could be a possibility I think.

- - - o o o - - -

The river was in flood after the rain of the last few days, but the ski slope and the lights were still high above the water line.

Anyone for an evening session ?

I had a walk around the main building and the corridors,

home to a wonderful collection of mountain climbing photos from all parts of the world.

Some of the lads opted for a spot of indoor bouldering . . .
. . . on the PyB Climbing Wall.

Paul making a bold move up from the floor.
Dan following one of the other lads up the wall.
Richard following the pink route.
The other Richard (I think) following the blue.

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Next morning . . . Day Two

- - - o o o - - -

The forecast is still for low cloud and strong winds

so it's over to meet our Plas y Brenin instructors to see what the Centre has planned for us today.

The bridge in daylight.

Likewise the ski slope.

The newer square tower to the right is part of the indoor climbing wall complex the boys used last night.

Plas Y Brenin is famous for it's view over Llynnau Mymbyr towards Snowdon.

Y Lliwedd and Crib Goch are just clear, but Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) in the centre is well and truly clouded over.

We meet in the bar and discuss our preferred activities for the day.

Off to the stores for helmet, harness and a long climbing rope.

Four of us are off to climb Tryfan . . . the hard way.

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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Canon G10 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . an expert at hand, just when you need one.

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