Video: Massive Glacier Collapse in Greenland

Ever wondered what a massive glacier collapse looked like? Wonder no more. A team from the Chasing Ice project were in Greenland when they caught the moment that an area of glacier the size of Manhattan disintegrated into the sea. Simply stunning.

This glacier has retreated more in 10 years than it did in the previous 100. Judging by this footage, it isn’t hard to appreciate that fact.

Sophie’s muchbetter guide to Iceland

Why Iceland?
Of all the places I have visited as an adventure sports/travel journalist, nowhere has come close to touching me in the way Iceland has. Geographically positioned in the middle of nowhere just south of the Arctic circle, it is an isolated country yet one which is literally overflowing and not just with the lava from the volcanoes and steam from the geysers. This is a land literally full of energy, yet somehow it feels serene. Its people are friendly, innovative and creative yet capability and calmness oozes from their core. Here there is a feeling that anything is possible as long as you keep your feet on the ground, optimism founded in reality if you will. Sure you might become an international rock star but youll need to make sure you can drive a boat, kill a goat and build a shelter from a whale carcass..should the need ever present itself. The best time to experience Iceland is pretty much right now as it is currently more affordable than it has ever been.
Best skiing
A journey to Iceland is an adventure in itself but if you really want to get a feel for the place then head to the North part of the island. A plane ride from Reykjavik to Akureyi is just a 40 minute hop and more akin to getting on a bus than going to an airport 30 minute check in time, no security and a free cup of tea. Love it. The Troll Peninsula is where all the best ski touring is in Iceland, where 2,000m of heart pumping ascent is swiftly followed by a main of freshies in steep couloirs. Icelandic hospitality can mean hot tubs, massages, and beers for afters! The terrain here really is immense, endless and undiscovered and even towards the end of the season you can be part of the first group to ski tour one of the local valleys. Rewards for our efforts were considerable, Icelands super stable snowpack allowing for lap after lap of waist deep powder under calm, sunny skies. Dreamy yet true.
Best Town
If you only make it as far as Reykjavik, I wouldnt blame you. If you had to live in a city Reykjavik would be a wonderful choice with great coffee shops, top level restaurants, trendy boutiques, and lively bars on every corner, it really is a vibrant, creative and enormously fun place to hang out. If mainstream tourism is not really your thing and youd prefer to live like a local during your stay, then why not take an morning run along the waterfront with the locals, then fuel up on caffeine and cake at the bohemian Caf Babalu before heading over the road to get a Norse tattoo with the friendly and experienced artists at Kingdom Within Tattoo. Reyjkavik is special, you might as well mark the experience!
Wash down the pain with a few cocktails at your hotel bar before heading out for some good value and super tasty tapas at Tapas Barinn. Take note that whilst all the usual Spanish suspects are on the menu, you can always go for the Icelandic version and get involved with a bit of smoked puffin, a fillet of Icelandic foal, or a slice of minke whale with cranberry sauce!!
Best Day Adventures
Staying in Reykjavik is an adventure within itself but so is getting out and about. There are a plethora of outfitters offering visitors some adventurous day trips with a variety of options including rafting, glacier hiking, caving, ice climbing, whale watching, kayaking and snowmobiling the variety of operators have pretty much all adventurous bases covered. For a truly unique experience I highly recommend a snorkeling tour in the crystal clear, and impossibly blue waters of the Silfra canyon. Any concerns of the cold are kept at bay by the combination of a fab dry suit and the realization that you are swimming between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia a pretty unique opportunity to say the least!
Best Road Trip
If youre only on the island for a short break then the Golden Circle is probably the best known tourist route on the island. Starting in Reykjavik, this is a 300km loop which takes in Thingvellir National Park, the amazing Gullfoss waterfall and the Strokkur and Geysir geysers in the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur. This gives you a taster of the best of Iceland in one day but if you prefer the more organic and authentic approach, why not take Route 1 that runs around the entire country. Only finished in 1974 this 1,339 km ring road takes you through the towns of Reykjavik, Sellfoss, Hofn, Egilsstadir, Akureyri, Blonduos, and Borgarnes and through some of Icelands most extreme landscapes. Achievable in about 9 days, this is a great journey with amazing scenery and not a lot of people!
Something a bit different.
If you want to go somewhere truly off the beaten track then head to the very north west of the country to the Westfjords. With natural harbours, big mountains, fabulous cliffs and spectacular waterfalls, the Westfjords are one of Icelands most impressive hidden gems.
Check out our Flight Finder for cheap, low carbon flights to Iceland!

Why Iceland?

Of all the places I have visited as an adventure sports/travel journalist, nowhere has come close to touching me in the way Iceland has. Geographically positioned in the middle of nowhere just south of the Arctic circle, it is an isolated country yet one which is literally overflowing and not just with the lava from the volcanoes and steam from the geysers. This is a land literally full of energy, yet somehow it feels serene. Its people are friendly, innovative and creative yet capability and calmness oozes from their core. Here there is a feeling that anything is possible as long as you keep your feet on the ground, optimism founded in reality if you will. Sure you might become an international rock star but youll need to make sure you can drive a boat, kill a goat and build a shelter from a whale carcass..should the need ever present itself. The best time to experience Iceland is pretty much right now as it is currently more affordable than it has ever been.

Best skiing

A journey to Iceland is an adventure in itself but if you really want to get a feel for the place then head to the North part of the island. A plane ride from Reykjavik to Akureyi is just a 40 minute hop and more akin to getting on a bus than going to an airport 30 minute check in time, no security and a free cup of tea. Love it. The Troll Peninsula is where all the best ski touring is in Iceland, where 2,000m of heart pumping ascent is swiftly followed by a main of freshies in steep couloirs. Icelandic hospitality can mean hot tubs, massages, and beers for afters! The terrain here really is immense, endless and undiscovered and even towards the end of the season you can be part of the first group to ski tour one of the local valleys. Rewards for our efforts were considerable, Icelands super stable snowpack allowing for lap after lap of waist deep powder under calm, sunny skies. Dreamy yet true.

Best Town

If you only make it as far as Reykjavik, I wouldnt blame you. If you had to live in a city Reykjavik would be a wonderful choice with great coffee shops, top level restaurants, trendy boutiques, and lively bars on every corner, it really is a vibrant, creative and enormously fun place to hang out. If mainstream tourism is not really your thing and youd prefer to live like a local during your stay, then why not take an morning run along the waterfront with the locals, then fuel up on caffeine and cake at the bohemian Caf Babalu before heading over the road to get a Norse tattoo with the friendly and experienced artists at Kingdom Within Tattoo. Reyjkavik is special, you might as well mark the experience!

Wash down the pain with a few cocktails at your hotel bar before heading out for some good value and super tasty tapas at Tapas Barinn. Take note that whilst all the usual Spanish suspects are on the menu, you can always go for the Icelandic version and get involved with a bit of smoked puffin, a fillet of Icelandic foal, or a slice of minke whale with cranberry sauce!!

Best Day Adventures

Staying in Reykjavik is an adventure within itself but so is getting out and about. There are a plethora of outfitters offering visitors some adventurous day trips with a variety of options including rafting, glacier hiking, caving, ice climbing, whale watching, kayaking and snowmobiling the variety of operators have pretty much all adventurous bases covered. For a truly unique experience I highly recommend a snorkeling tour in the crystal clear, and impossibly blue waters of the Silfra canyon. Any concerns of the cold are kept at bay by the combination of a fab dry suit and the realization that you are swimming between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia a pretty unique opportunity to say the least!

Best Road Trip

If youre only on the island for a short break then the Golden Circle is probably the best known tourist route on the island. Starting in Reykjavik, this is a 300km loop which takes in Thingvellir National Park, the amazing Gullfoss waterfall and the Strokkur and Geysir geysers in the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur. This gives you a taster of the best of Iceland in one day but if you prefer the more organic and authentic approach, why not take Route 1 that runs around the entire country. Only finished in 1974 this 1,339 km ring road takes you through the towns of Reykjavik, Sellfoss, Hofn, Egilsstadir, Akureyri, Blonduos, and Borgarnes and through some of Icelands most extreme landscapes. Achievable in about 9 days, this is a great journey with amazing scenery and not a lot of people!

Something a bit different

If you want to go somewhere truly off the beaten track then head to the very north west of the country to the Westfjords. With natural harbours, big mountains, fabulous cliffs and spectacular waterfalls, the Westfjords are one of Icelands most impressive hidden gems.Check out our guide on cycling in Iceland here!

This article was written by Sophie – check out her profile and other articles!

Review of Paramo Cascada trousers

In this kit review, Bob from Nature Travels tells us about the Paramo Cascada trousers, which he’s been using for the past couple of years.

Ive had my pair of Paramo Cascada trousers for about two years now. Convinced by a hillwalking friend of mine from Scotland who is a Paramo devotee, I bought them because I was frustrated with the various waterproof overtrousers Id had in the past, both because some manufacturers seem to take a very loose view of what constitutes waterproof and also because the need to carry the trousers separately, putting them on when it starting raining and taking them off again when it stopped and got too hot, especially when wearing muddy boots, was an irritation.

The Paramo Cascadas are different in that they are meant to be your only pair of outdoor trousers, doing away with the need for a separate rainwear pair. Ive used them regularly on trips to Sweden, Norway, Finland and Scotland in the last two years, including a weeks canoeing in the wilderness of Rogen in north-west Sweden, hiking beneath the midnight sun in northern Finland, whale watching in the Lofoten islands in Norway, bothying and hillwalking on Scotlands west coast, and dog sledding on the Kings Trail in Swedish Lapland.

The beauty of the Paramo Cascadas is, as the list of trips above illustrates, that they are suitable for both summer and winter use. They are warm enough to use as trousers over a base layer in milder winter conditions, such as for dog sledding in the Swedish spring winter in March and April or a late season bothy trip in Scotland, but are also perfect for a weeks canoeing and wild camping in the Scandinavian summertime. They have long zips down each side making ventilation a breeze (pun entirely deliberate). They are comfortable, durable, and being made from Nikwax Analogy fabric, can be re-proofed indefinitely with Nikwax, making them a sound environmental choice as well.

The Paramo Cascadas are not 100% waterproof (but then nothing is, really, except a plastic bag!), especially with the long zips I dont think they are designed to be but they can take a good amount of rain and dry very quickly, are comfortable and warm even after a good soaking and are now the only pair of waterproof trousers I ever use.

One small criticism Id have is that in hot conditions they are too warm I was up in the far north of Finland last year at midsummer, and took my Paramo Cascadas because temperatures at this time would normally be in the mid-teens. Unusually, it was almost 30 degrees most of the time and the Paramo Cascadas were uncomfortably warm even with full ventilation. Also using a standard knot for the lace-up waist results in the knot getting tight miss out the crossover bit at the start of the knot and do a bow only and youll be fine!

At around 110 (though I was lucky enough to buy mine at a discount for around 70) they are not cheap, but not overpriced either compared to other high-quality outdoor gear. If you maintain them through an appropriate cleaning and re-proofing regime, they should last a very long time, so are a good investment. Or do as a canoeing friend of mine does with all his outdoor gear and buy a pair secondhand on e-bay!

Overall, if like me you find having separate raintrousers a nuisance and want a versatile and durable pair of outdoor trousers which also keep the rain at bay, the Paramo Cascadas are ideal.

News photo credit; Nature Travels

Kit Review – Alpkit Filo

So you may have seen our full review of the Rab Generator Smock earlier this month a great insulating layer for active use, we feel. But what if you want that extra bit of warmth, whether it be at Everest Base Camp or for that stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon? Well, in both cases youll probably be looking for a down jacket very warm, and yet light weight and packable.
We therefore thought wed bring you a mini-review of the Alpkit Filo down jacket. Toms owned his for the past 5 (or is it 6?) years his is the first generation Filo, which although having been superseded, gives you an idea of how reliable the jacket has been.
First things first this jacket is pretty warm. -12 Celsius out there tonight on the way back from town, and within five minutes, full body warmth was resumed. The loft of the down results in a pocket of warm air surrounding the body, with the outer fabric keeping the worst of the wind out (and heat in). The soft neck lining keeps things comfortable, and the flap of fabric behind the zip stops the biting wind from finding a weak-point. Finally, the elasticated drawstring round the waist seals you in.
The issue with down in general is that it doesnt perform in the wet. Alpkit have tackled this with a water resistant outer fabric, which on newer models is even more weather proof. Its not a waterproof jacket, but for quick showers, nothing too bad is going to happen. If its proper cold and snowing, in my experience the insulation is enough to stop the snow melting on the surface, so it can just be brushed off. I have, in the past, got the jacket wetter than Id planned, but nothing disastrous has happened to it.
The latest model has had some significant upgrades over my mark 1 the detachable hood provides warmth for the head ideal in cold places like the Alps, or a bivvy atop a Munro… Using new zips and fabric has also meant that the jacket is now 20% lighter (Alpkit claim), and also more packable. Lighter jackets also help with loft too with less weight to support, the down can loft more, keeping you extra snug.
Comparing the Filo against other down jackets shows that, at 95, its a bit of a steal.
My verdict? Well, if I could just kill my current Filo, itd be a new one Id be looking for!
If you want one, youd better be quick. After selling out, Alpkit have ordered more, and Im reliably informed that theyre selling like hot cakes too… You can grab one on the Alpkit Filo Jacket page.
Alpkit have released their first range of tents. Their 4 season range covers 2,3 and 4-6 person models. All are geodesic designs, built to cope with harsh conditions. Their prices start at 300 for the Kangri, the Zhota is 450, and its 650 for the Heksa. Alpkit also produce a range of lightweight tarps and bivvy bags, for the fast-and-light crew…
Worth also mentioning that if you want to try out an Alpkit tent before you buy one, they offer a Tent Demo, starting at 30 for the Kangri (45 for Zhota, 65 for Heksa). The fee is refunded if you purchase said tent within 3 months too!
All the specs and info youll ever need can be seen on the Alpkit tent page.

So you may have seen our full review of the Rab Generator Smock earlier this month a great insulating layer for active use, we feel. But what if you want that extra bit of warmth, whether it be at Everest Base Camp or for that stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon? Well, in both cases youll probably be looking for a down jacket very warm, and yet light weight and packable.

We therefore thought wed bring you a mini-review of the Alpkit Filo down jacket. Toms owned his for the past 5 (or is it 6?) years his is the first generation Filo, which although having been superseded, gives you an idea of how reliable the jacket has been.

First things first this jacket is pretty warm. -12 Celsius out there tonight on the way back from town, and within five minutes, full body warmth was resumed. The loft of the down results in a pocket of warm air surrounding the body, with the outer fabric keeping the worst of the wind out (and heat in). The soft neck lining keeps things comfortable, and the flap of fabric behind the zip stops the biting wind from finding a weak-point. Finally, the elasticated drawstring round the waist seals you in.

The issue with down in general is that it doesnt perform in the wet. Alpkit have tackled this with a water resistant outer fabric, which on newer models is even more weather proof. Its not a waterproof jacket, but for quick showers, nothing too bad is going to happen. If its proper cold and snowing, in my experience the insulation is enough to stop the snow melting on the surface, so it can just be brushed off. I have, in the past, got the jacket wetter than Id planned, but nothing disastrous has happened to it.

The latest model has had some significant upgrades over my mark 1 the detachable hood provides warmth for the head ideal in cold places like the Alps, or a bivvy atop a Munro… Using new zips and fabric has also meant that the jacket is now 20% lighter (Alpkit claim), and also more packable. Lighter jackets also help with loft too with less weight to support, the down can loft more, keeping you extra snug.Comparing the Filo against other down jackets shows that, at 95, its a bit of a steal.

My verdict? Well, if I could just kill my current Filo, itd be a new one Id be looking for!

If you want one, youd better be quick. After selling out, Alpkit have ordered more, and Im reliably informed that theyre selling like hot cakes too… You can grab one on the Alpkit Filo Jacket page.

Alpkit have released their first range of tents. Their 4 season range covers 2,3 and 4-6 person models. All are geodesic designs, built to cope with harsh conditions. Their prices start at 300 for the Kangri, the Zhota is 450, and its 650 for the Heksa. Alpkit also produce a range of lightweight tarps and bivvy bags, for the fast-and-light crew…

Worth also mentioning that if you want to try out an Alpkit tent before you buy one, they offer a Tent Demo, starting at 30 for the Kangri (45 for Zhota, 65 for Heksa). The fee is refunded if you purchase said tent within 3 months too!

All the specs and info youll ever need can be seen on the Alpkit tent page.

If you’ve got the kit, you may as well use it… So why not head to our trekking holidays page for some inspiration!

Inspiration for a year of adventures!

Now that the New Year has rolled in, the fuzzy head has cleared and you’re looking forward to a great 2012, it’s time to start planning your adventures.

With so many places in the World to visit, a massive range of activities to complete, and only 12 months to do it all in, we thought we’d put together a list of some of the best adventure ideas, month by month to inspire you.

All of them are provided by our ‘muchbetter‘ members, so you know that your adventure will have a positive impact on the area you go…

January – Northern Lights Wilderness Adventure

Experience the beauty of the Northern Lights on this multi-activity trip to Lapland. Cross country ski, snow shoe and dog sled amongst frozen lakes and untouched forests.

February – Winter Skills Snowhole Expedition

Instead of descending to the valley in the evenings of your expedition across the Cairngorm Plateau in Scotland, why not stay high and make the most of your time – sleeping in your own snowhole!

March – Ski Touring Holiday in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina might not be the obvious choice for a ski holiday, but the untouched wilderness is an experience not to be missed… Ski tour between the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar. Click here to see more ski touring holidays.

April – Marathon and Half Marathon Training on the Galapagos

You’ve got the New Years resolution to run a marathon, but the training has been cold and wet all spring… so why not treat yourself to this training camp in the beautiful surroundings of the Galapagos!

May – Klarlvdalen Kanot Canoe Tour

May has to be one of the best times of year to visit Sweden – it’s getting warmer, spring has sprung and the dreaded insects are only just waking up… These flexible self-led canoe tours are the perfect way to explore the Karlstad area of Sweden. See our canoe and kayak holidays page here.

June – Horse Trekking in Turkey

Run by Relief Riders, one of our muchbetter Pioneers, this is an amazing trip to Turkey, exploring the Cappadocia area on horseback. Along the way you’ll also be involved in some inspiring community based initiatives along the way.

July – Hiking Day Tours on the Peninsula of Trolls

Trolls?! Sounds intriguing! Explore this remote area of Iceland in July to experience the amazing scenery on offer. This area is as close to the Arctic Circle as you can get without actually being in it, but you’ll still be able to experience near 24 hour sunlight! Find more inspiring walking holidays here.

August – 1 or 2 week Surfariz

It’s the height of summer, Cornwall is experiencing a heat-wave, and the turquoise sea is as warm as it gets in the UK. So why not head down there for a week or two of surfing mixed with a bit of self-healing and relaxation through a range of alternative therapies. Follow this link for even more surfing holidays!

September – 2 Week Mountain Biking Adventure to Machu Picchu

Explore the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu on a mountain bike, whilst also visiting the hills around Cusco and the Incan settlements of Maras and Salineras. Lonely Planet author Katy Shorthouse and your local guide will tell you all you need to know about the fascinating culture. This link contains more info on cycling holidays.

October – Learn to Kayak in Nepal

Why not! With some world class whitewater, Nepal is a go-to destination for whitewater kayakers, so it’s also the perfect place to learn this amazing sport. This 4 day course is perfect for beginners to experts. Even morekayak holidays!

November – Learn to Dive with ReefCI in Belize

Diving gives you the opportunity to see a whole new world under the water… You’ll need to know how to do it though, so why not learn in the warm waters of Belize? You’ll also get the chance to be involved in some ocean conservation – protecting the ocean for your next visit! Find more diving holidays and marine conservation holidays here.

December – Snowshoeing in the Highlands of the Western Carpathians

What better way to finish off your year of adventures than a snowshoeing trip in Romania. It’s off the beaten track, so you’ll not bump into anyone else… T
he silence, empty forests and great local guides will ensure this is a trip you’ll never forget.

So there you have it – a year’s worth of adventure ideas. Your guide to making the most of 2012. We hope you’ll find some great ideas in here! There are so many incredible holidays on Much Better Adventures, we hope you’ll find what you are looking for. You can start your search from our Activities page, where you’ll find links to even more adventure ideas.

Best of the Grapevine, 2011

Its been a busy year at Much Better HQ new staff, new systems, loads and loads of great new companies and holidays and lots more of you guys our visitors!
The Grapevine has also been packed full of articles 163 if you count this one! Given that its the end of the year, we thought wed take a look through the past year and pick our favourite article of each month. Without further ado here we go!
January
Aspiring Adventures ask: Volunteering, who benefits?
Steve and Katy from Aspiring Adventures debate who really benefits from volunteers. With the rise of voluntourism placements, it was a particularly enlightening article.
February
Tom goes snowshoeing with Indie Outdoors
In February I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try something totally new to me snowshoeing. Walking through untouched snow was certainly something Ill remember for a long time!
March
The softshell on your back.. who made it?
Our resident techspert (see what I did there?!) Ed has been writing a series of articles on the sustainability of kit we all use in the outdoors. This article delved into the softshells which are gaining in popularity at the moment…
April
Cycling in Iceland a how to guide.
Iceland is one of those countries that, once youve been, youve just got to go back to… Heres a great account of Tom and Legs trip, cycling around Iceland.
May
Finally, a muchbetter Alternative to Carbon Offsetting
We all travel, we all know that this does have a negative effect on the environment. So how can we minimise this? Check out what we think is the perfect alternative to carbon offsetting.
June
VIDEO – a muchbetter member’s TED talk
If you are aware of TED Talks, youll know that TED feature some of the most interesting and inspirational speakers from virtually any subject. One of our very own muchbetter members, Omar Samra from Wild Guanabana is one such individual.
July
How to – Environmentally Friendly Diving
An interesting and informative piece on how you can reduce the impact of your diving a must read for divers!
August
Meet the members – Diamond Beach Village
Despite having loads of great general interest articles, we are a site designed to help you find great holidays! We have a regular Meet the Members series, and so heres a fantastic example of a muchbetter member.
September
Obituary – George Band
It was a sad moment in the office when we heard of the death of George Band a highly accomplished mountaineer who perhaps didnt get the recognition he should have.
October
Adventure sport in schools, what should be done?
With surfing entering the curriculum for high school students in Hawaii, we debate what can be done about introducing more adventure sports into schools.
November
The Toxicity Of Surfing – Infographic
More surfing this time looking at the environmental impact of the surfing industry. Could do better, we think!
December
Rowers rescued as boat is capsized by freak wave on Transatlantic charity challenge
December bought a dramatic firsthand account of what happens when your rowing boat capsizes in the mid-Atlantic!
Well, theres a year in articles for you! Thats only 12 of the 163 articles weve posted in 2011, so theres plenty more to explore in the Grapevine!
Were always looking for contributors, so if youve got a story to tell, do get in touch!
Heres hoping for a similarly packed 2012, we hope you all have a good one!

Its been a busy year at Much Better HQ new staff, new systems, loads and loads of great new companies and their holidays, and lots more of you guys!

The Grapevine has also been packed full of articles 163 if you count this one! Given that its the end of the year, we thought wed take a look through the past year and pick our favourite article of each month. Without further ado here we go!

January – Aspiring Adventures ask: Volunteering, who benefits?

Steve and Katy from Aspiring Adventures debate who really benefits from volunteers. With the rise of voluntourism placements, it was a particularly enlightening article.

February – Tom goes snowshoeing with Indie Outdoors

In February I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try something totally new to me snowshoeing, with Indie Outdoors. Certainly something I’ll never forget!

March – The softshell on your back.. who made it?

Our resident techspert (see what I did there?!) [Ed. “Rubbish!”] Ed has been writing a series of articles on the sustainability of kit we all use in the outdoors. This article delved into the softshells which are gaining in popularity at the moment…

April – Cycling in Iceland a how to guide.

Iceland is one of those countries that, once youve been, youve just got to go back to… Heres a great account of Tom and Legs trip, cycling around Iceland.

May – Finally, a muchbetter Alternative to Carbon Offsetting

We all travel, we all know that this does have a negative effect on the environment. So how can we minimise this? Check out what we think is the perfect alternative to carbon offsetting.

June – VIDEO – a muchbetter member’s TED talk

If you are aware of TED Talks, youll know that TED feature some of the most interesting and inspirational speakers from virtually any subject. One of our very own muchbetter members, Omar Samra from Wild Guanabana is one such individual.

July – How to – Environmentally Friendly Diving

An interesting and informative piece on how you can reduce the impact of your diving a must read for divers!

August – Meet the members – Diamond Beach Village

Despite having loads of great general interest articles, we are a site designed to help you find great holidays! Heres a fantastic example of a muchbetter member – Diamond Beach Village, from our Meet the Members series.

September – Obituary – George Band

It was a sad moment in the office when we heard of the death of George Band a highly accomplished mountaineer who perhaps didnt get the recognition he should have.

October – Adventure sport in schools, what should be done?

With surfing entering the curriculum for high school students in Hawaii, we debate what can be done about introducing more adventure sports into schools.

November – The Toxicity Of Surfing – Infographic

More surfing this time looking at the environmental impact of the surfing industry. Could do better, we think!

December – Rowers rescued as boat is capsized by freak wave on Transatlantic charity challenge

December bought a dramatic firsthand account of what happens when your rowing boat capsizes in the mid-Atlantic!

Well, theres a year in articles for you. Thats only 12 of the 163 articles weve posted in 2011, so theres plenty more to explore in the Grapevine!

Were always looking for contributors, so if youve got a story to tell, do get in touch.

Heres hoping for a similarly packed 2012, we hope you all have a good one!

Skitouring in the Neretva valley, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Outdoors and Adventure Company Scorpio, are an adventure company run by local mountaineering instructors organizing outdoors activities on the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Why the Neretva Valley in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a holiday destination?

Bosnia and Herzegovina is emerging as a new holiday destination for sustainable tourism, it is an intriguing mixture of East and West culture with churches, mosques and synagogues the one next to the other and the genuine hospitality of its inhabitants, always ready to welcome you and make you feel at home. This is the most known aspect of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the one that is the most familiar to those spending one day in Mostar or Sarajevo. But there is much more to it. The country is still unspoiled by mass tourism, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and real adventures. Its mountains, especially during the winter, are largely untouched and very few persons visit them. Thats where the real adventure begins.

Favourite spot for ski touring in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

There are many areas where ski touring can practiced: almost all the main mountains of BIH are well suited for this activity: it is enough to follow the summer hiking trails. However, there is an excellent concentration of mountains in the area between Sarajevo and Mostar, that is the boundary between Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this area you will find the most attractive and different mountains. From Bijelasnica, the mountain where the 1984 Olympic games took place, to Visocica, a long ridge, in the middle of a very beautiful plateau, which provides an excellent view on the most important mountain of Bosnia and Herzegovina, before skiing down the south face of Visocica mountain, a natural slope with excellent powder. Bijelasnica and Visocica represent an excellent training, a perfect introduction for Prenj and Cvrsnica, two impressive mountain ranges, separated by the Neretva River, which represent the highlights of ski touring in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The access to these mountains is quite difficult, the distances relatively long, but the experience is highly rewarding, as you will enter a completely different environment, where the tracks of yours skis will probably be the only ones during the whole winter. There is some reasons why the Prenj massive is called the Bosnian Himalaya. Although its main peaks are little more than 2,000 mts, reaching them during the winter is a real challenge. The same is with Cvrsnica Mountain, located in a near valley. It is a 2,200 massive dominating the lake of Blidinje, with two impressive peaks and a number of separate valleys where skiing is possible even in May, in a spectacular environment.

Favourite places to grab some food and drink in Neretva Valley?

Along the route, you will find many places for homemade food, where you can taste food locally made A few outstanding places can be Dzafers hut in Luka village, an excellent relax once back from Visocica mountain, and probably the only place in the remote village, as well as the restaurants in Konjic or Blidinje area, perfectly in line with the best of Bosnian tradition: bureks, roasted meat, cheese, salads, soups a unique mix of taste and energy.

Whats the best time of year to come to Bosnia and Herzegovina?

For ski touring, the months of February-March-April are definitely the best ones. The snow is abundant, the days are long, we can even enjoy springtime in the valleys, while skiing on the top of the mountains.

Top locals tips

You can arrive to Bosnia and Herzegovina via land or via air. Direct flights connect Sarajevo to Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Stuttgart. Via land, you continue from Zagreb either along the coast or inland. Getting around is easy amongst the main towns, but public transport is still relatively problematic, especially if you have large luggage. When it comes to reaching the mountains, very often an off road vehicle, is required, especially during the winter months. A local guide is often necessary as there are is no GPS data available and the maps are very hard to find. As for gear, proper skitouring gear, including crampons and iceaxe, is necessary as weather conditions can become very difficult. Amongst the things not to miss, Mostar and Sarajevo with their own rich cultural heritage represent two excellent city breaks, to rest after a few days of ski touring…

Don’t forget to check out Scorpio’s fantastic adventures, including their ski touring holiday!

Event notice – RGS – Discovering People, Hilary Bradt MBE

The Royal Geographical Society are holding one of their Discovering People events on the 30th of November, with the BBC’s Martine Croxall talking to the fantastic travel writer and publisher Hilary Brandt MBE.

Hilary, who was arrested in Uganda following the Entebbe Raid, was jailed in communist Ethiopia for discussing capitalism and got lost in the Madagascan jungle for three days, will be talking about her love of travel and hitchiking.

Hilary may be best known through her Brandt guide books, which have been advising travellers who go to ‘out the way’ places since the 1970s when Hilary co-wrote the first guide whilst on a barge floating down a tributary of the Amazon.

The event will start at 7pm on the 30/11 and will be held at the Royal Geographical Society (with IGB), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR. Nearest tube station is South Kensington, the RGS is located here.

Tickets cost 10 (or 7 for RGS/IGB members) and can be booked at the RGS website.

Ski Train tickets now available

If you’re planning on heading to the mountains this winter for some skiing, but not too keen on burning a chunk of fuel in an aeroplane, you’ll be happy to hear that ski train tickets are now available…

With tickets only becoming available 2-3 months before travel dates, buying tickets in advance can be a bit of a nightmare when planning a trip.

By heading to www.raileurope.co.uk you can purchase tickets to Bourg St Maurice, Aime La Plagne and Moutier, from 109 return. Other routes are also available, as well as Eurostar routes.

Tickets are currently available for dates from 11th Dec to 12th Jan, with later dates becoming available shortly.

If travelling by train isn’t possible for you, you should check out the Much Better Adventures carbon friendly Flight Finder!

Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival about to kick-off

Edinburgh seems to have a disproportionate amount of mountaineers for a large UK city, perhaps thanks to a thriving outdoor scene generally in Scotland, so its no surprise that it hosts one of the UK’s biggest mountain film festivals.

This year the festival has a fantastic line-up, including films and talks from Jonny Dawes, Catherine Destivelle and Al Humphreys. Talks and films are being shown at the George Square Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh University (travel details here), from the 6th to the 9th of October, in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.

Members of the public also have the chance (still!) to submit photos for the photography competition, along with films for the festival.

To get you in the mood, here is a little taster of what you can expect…

Check out the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival website for further details of all the events.

If you have any events which you wish to be publicised in the Grapevine, please send them through to us!

UK avalanche awareness talks are back this autumn

With more and more people hitting the ski slopes in winter, there comes an increase in those who want to get off the beaten track, and carve their own fresh tracks in the snow. Off-piste skiing and snowboarding, along with winter mountaineering and ice climbing, is a great way to experience the mountains in winter. As everyone knows, avalanches are incredibly dangerous, and often it is those who leave the more populous areas in search of virgin snow, who find themselves in danger.
In order to help educate people about the risks, the Henrys Avalanche Talks (HAT) series is back touring the UKs indoor ski slopes this autumn. Covering the basic rules of how to avoid avalanches, and what to do when they do hit, the talks may well help you stay safe this winter. HAT are offering more in-depth talks on 2 dates, for those after more detailed information.
Tickets are 8 and you can catch the talks at the following dates;
Ride Hard Ride Safe Introductory Talk 7.30pm
Tuesday 25 October 2011 7.30pm Xscape, Leeds
Wednesday 26 October 2011 Xscape, Glasgow
Thursday 27 October 2011 The Snowdome, Tamworth
Wednesday 2 November 2011 Ellis Brigham , Covent Garden
Tuesday 8 November 2011 Xscape, Milton Keynes
Wednesday 9 November 2011 Ellis Brigham , Castlefield, Manchester
Ride Hard Ride Safe In-depth Talk 8pm
Thursday 3 November 2011 Ellis Brigham , Covent Garden
Thursday 10 November 2011 Ellis Brigham, Castlefield, Manchester
More information on the HAT talks is available on the Henrys Avalanche Talks website.

With more and more people hitting the ski slopes in winter, there comes an increase in those who want to get off the beaten track, and carve their own fresh tracks in the snow. Off-piste skiing and snowboarding, along with winter mountaineering and ice climbing, is a great way to experience the mountains in winter. As everyone knows, avalanches are incredibly dangerous, and often it is those who leave the more populous areas in search of virgin snow, who find themselves in danger.

In order to help educate people about the risks, the Henrys Avalanche Talks (HAT) series is back touring the UKs indoor ski slopes this autumn. Covering the basic rules of how to avoid avalanches, and what to do when they do hit, the talks may well help you stay safe this winter. HAT are offering more in-depth talks on 2 dates, for those after more detailed information.

Tickets are 8 and you can catch the talks at the following dates;

Ride Hard Ride Safe Introductory Talk 7.30pm

Tuesday 25 October 2011 7.30pm Xscape, Leeds

Wednesday 26 October 2011 Xscape, Glasgow

Thursday 27 October 2011 The Snowdome, Tamworth

Wednesday 2 November 2011 Ellis Brigham , Covent Garden

Tuesday 8 November 2011 Xscape, Milton Keynes

Wednesday 9 November 2011 Ellis Brigham , Castlefield, Manchester

Ride Hard Ride Safe In-depth Talk 8pm

Thursday 3 November 2011 Ellis Brigham , Covent Garden

Thursday 10 November 2011 Ellis Brigham, Castlefield, Manchester

More information on the HAT talks is available on the Henrys Avalanche Talks website.