From first-ascents of soaring peaks in the Kishtwar Himalaya by Uisdean Hawthorn, Lou Reynold’s development on a professional level with the British Mountain Guides Scheme and Tom Livingstone’s mixed year of weather-windows and dramatic climbs. It’s all been happening in 2017. Here’s a round-up from some of our Pro-Team on their 2017 year in review, and their hopes for 2018.
Q: 2017 has been a pretty exciting year for you professionally. How would you sum up the year?
A: 2017 has been a fun and varied year, with a good combination of interesting work and trips which have led me to the next chapter of life. After a slightly warm and damp Scottish winter, I headed out the Alps for some alpine adventures.
Having been provisionally accepted for the British Mountain Guides Scheme, I had a slight agender, to try and climb two more icy north faces. We had success, and unlike other trips it all just fitted together; weather, partners, conditions… well just about. For once I was in the right place at the right time. So with the aid of some close friends I climbed the Droite and the Aiguille Verte via some great lines.
Q: Has there been a particular piece of Mountain Equipment kit that’s stood out to you this year?
A: My favourite piece of ME kit this year has to be the Womens Dewline Jacket.
It kept me alive and warm on a ‘shiver bivy’ on the summit of the Droite. Its weight to warmth ratio is excellent, perfect for lightweight alpine ascents.
Women’s Dewline Hooded Jacket
Q: Looks like 2018 is shaping up to be quite a busy one for you then?
A: On a professional level, this year I am excited about getting started with the British Mountain Guides Scheme. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to personally develop as a climber, skier and guide and to get chance to work towards something I had always wanted to do. I am sure there will be challenges but this is an exciting new phase for me.
Q: Are there any bigger trips planned?
A: On a holiday level, I am super excited about heading to the States with some friends for three weeks in the Spring. Travelling around in a big RV together to seek out some steep couloir skiing and climb in the dessert.
Q: Tom, you’ve been here-there-and-everywhere this year with every type of weather condition you could imagine. How would you begin to sum up the year of 2017?
A: This year has been great, but it’s also been interesting. It started with a lot of poor weather in Patagonia, with little or no windows.
Scotland and the Alps were great – both only short trips unfortunately, but I feel like I made the most of them.
The Leseuer route on Le Dru, free and onsight with Kim Ladiges, was a highlight.
Alaska with Uisdean Hawthorn was a fun trip, although again frustrating due to the weather.
It’s so easy to think of success as ‘climbing a route,’ but it’s important to think of the bigger picture: the experience, the friends you shared it with, the knowledge and skills gained for next time. I’m obviously only saying this because we didn’t climb the Slovak Direct – next time!
Q: Have there been any particular highlights in more favourable conditions?
A: The summer has been good – lots of UK trad climbing. The 39 Slaps (E7++ 6c!) in the Llanberis Pass was a great route, but I felt like every time I gained some momentum over the summer/autumn, I had to go back to work. ‘Es la vida,’ though.
Finally, climbing the American Route on the Fou with Tony Stone was another memorable experience. We got lucky: our plan worked well, and combined with some good weather. The 7c crux pitch was tough but I was psyched to flash it.
Q: You’ve definitely been testing our kit in a variety of environments this year. Any standout pieces Mountain Equipment clothing for you?
A: I’ve worn the Quarrel Jacket loads in the mountains. I think the it’s simple, lightweight, tough, and fits me well.
Q: How’s 2018 shaping up for you in the diary so far?
A: Next year I’m looking forward to doing some new routes! Canada with Marc-Andre Leclerc in January, Alaska’s Revelations range with Uisdean in the spring, and Indian Himalayas with Uisdean and Will Sim in the autumn.
Q: You’ve had an incredibly exciting 2017, Uisdean. What has been your absolute highlight?
A: For me the highlight of my year was my trip to India with Pete and Ben. Everything was new from the mad streets of Delhi, quite valleys with local shepherds to the soaring peaks of the Himalaya.
Climbing a new route on a 6000m peak with two good mates was something really special.
Q: It’s not all been so successful though has it?
A: The low point of my year climbing-wise was sitting in a tent at 14000ft camp with Tom Livingstone in Alaska, waiting for a weather window to attempt Slovak Direct which never came.
It had been storming for days and I couldn’t help but question my decisions to be there instead of being at home rock climbing in the spring sun.
Q: Are there any pieces of Mountain Equipment kit that you’d like to give special mention to from this year?
A: The best peace of kit I’ve used this year hands down has to be the Super Couloir Gloves, a big improvement over anything else that is available on the market right now.
Super Couloir Glove