Chalet White Eden – Sainte Foy Tarentaise – Chalet Review 2016

Now here’s a couple of questions for all you ski holiday enthusiasts to ponder. Put to one side the resort and the weather, what are the ingredients that make a great chalet holiday for you? Is it the food, the location, the other guests, the rooms, the facilities, the price; or is it a combination of all these things? And how many truly great chalet holidays have you been on? There’s a lot of variables to take into account, and as a chalet company, a lot to get right if you want to run a successful business in a crowded market place. Hats off then to Small Wonders, who have got a very good handle on the majority of these factors, and tie them all together in a great venue that is Chalet White Eden.

The winner of the Ski Club Ski Holiday For Life competition, Rob Wycherley, has been in Sainte Foy Tarentaise this year.  He gives us his review for Chalet White Eden, Small Wonders.TheLodgeexterior4skiinout Everyone at Small Wonders, from the Managing Director down to the chalet staff in resort, hold the same philosophies regarding genuine hospitality, taking pleasure in looking after their customers, the enjoyment from being in a wonderful environment and that crucial aspect, attention to detail. All this became evident in the week that I spent as their guest in Chalet White Eden, tucked nicely in against the Home Run in the small resort of Sainte Foy in the Tarentaise, close to Bourg St Maurice and within striking distance of the Paradiski and Espace Killy. We’d chosen to hire a car and drive the just over 2 hours from Grenoble, giving us flexibility during the week, but the chalet will arrange a minibus pick up from the station at Bourg, as well as run you to other resorts should you choose to stretch your ski legs. After a short drive up the mountain from the Bourg to Tignes road you arrive in the resort of Ste. Foy, a collection of modern, tastefully presented, chalets and residences. Chalet White Eden is in the upper part of the village, and has the benefit of an underground car park, that proved to be an absolute godsend due to the levels of snow that we had during the week.

The chalet itself is only a few years old, and unlike a lot of its competitors in this price bracket spread across the Alps, it is not lacking for space. Aside from the underground car park there is room for a separate ski and boot room (equipped with powerful heaters and a sofa to change your boots on, heaven, and a massive tick from me!) as well as a sauna, a lift, generous living areas, a

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Jacuzzi on the balcony (great fun to bubble away in as the snow falls) and large bedrooms and en-suites, where you don’t have to trip over you and your companion’s gear as you get ready in the morning.

White Eden is set up in a style of what is best described as boutique chalet-hotel, with Savoyard architecture, and a smattering of art and carvings, making for a sophisticated but relaxed environment, with subtle lighting and a welcoming log fire in the hearth. Twice a week there are “Le Chic” Happy Hours, where champagne and mouth-watering canapés are served up, however outside of these times there is an honesty bar, which also includes quality teas and coffees. Although the hosts are generous with after dinner drinks, at this level of service with typical properties in the Alps, local beer and wine runs free of charge throughout the stay.


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Now on to the food; one word, wow! Expertly cooked and beautifully presented, with a wonderful repertoire and great matching wines. My mouth is still watering from the thought of it all after 3 weeks. Local produce is high on the list, and after an initial foray into gauging the right amount to serve for the guests on the first night, we settled into a well-balanced and perfectly timed series of dinner parties with our fellow holiday makers. Unusually for chalets in the Alps, during the week that I stayed it was a cosmopolitan mix of Europeans, with guests from France, Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland; and myself and my buddy were the only Brits in the mix. As the French were the most numerous, it was their language that dominated at the table, which might be a bit intimidating if you don’t speak the lingo, but everyone made a real effort and we all learned more about each other and had a lot of laughs in the process.

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For those of you interested in bringing children, as after all the resort is fabulous for families, there was a first sitting for dinner, and plenty of space for the kids to retreat to so that they can watch television and access the free wifi.

So, back to those questions I posed at the start. Small Wonders have that combination right, and it is testament to the company and their product that there was an almost unanimous re-booking for 2017 from the guests that stayed. This was a great chalet holiday, oh, and the snow played its part too!
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Have you heard of this resort? If you have, you’re in the minority. There might be a number of reasons why you could have, either you’ve passed through the main village on the road from Bourg St Maurice to Tignes and Val D’Isere, you might have a young family and wanted something quiet and safe, or lastly you’re a back country officianado who has heard whisperings of the awesome off-piste, and acres of powder that remains untouched days after all the other nearby major resorts have been skied out.

To be honest with you, I was very fortunate to find it, being given the opportunity as a guest of Small Wonders, staying in Chalet White Eden which I was reviewing for the Much Better Adventures website. Like you, I went online and checked out the usual sites for a review of the resort, full of statistics and mouth watering photos taken on bluebird powder days. I was apprehensive, as for a week’s skiing I normally plump for large ski stations with excellent links, miles of piste, ample eating and drinking opportunities with access to a range of off-piste opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I love a smaller resort, and have been fortunate enough to ski in plenty across the globe, but normally from a larger centre, or for a long weekend or day trip. Ste. Foy however lends itself to do things the other way around, so you can stay at a smaller, more intimate resort and then use it as a base to explore other larger ones that are nearby. In my case, and having the benefit of a hire car, I skied in Val D’Isere and then a day in Meribel where I caught up with friends, though there are other resorts nearer such as Les Arcs, La Plagne, Tignes and La Rosiere within 40 minutes or so.


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For those with family, or with more intermediate desires, then the resort offers ample skiing with accessible pistes from a handful of well linked chairlifts. This makes it easy to navigate for those inclined to use piste maps, and gives reassurance that older children won’t get stuck in the wrong valley when they pester to go off with friends. There are a small number of restaurants to rendez-vous at, all serving good mountain fare, but in busier periods, or with inclement weather it is best to book for meals. My stay co-incided with European half term, but it never felt too busy or crowded on the slopes, and lift queues only became apparent when bad weather forced the closure of the two top lifts due to high winds and avalanche risk.   

So then, what about the off-piste opportunities? Well, if you catch the weather right and you have fresh snow, you’ll think you have won the lottery. The top lifts open up a significant amount of area, from the unpisted blacks through to tree skiing and itineraries, it is all here, and what’s more there are only a small number of like minded individuals doing the same, so it is possible to make fresh tracks for a number of days after. My friend and I cut first lines on an epic run of 1,300m of vertical from the top of the lifts via the deserted hamlet of Le Monal down to the village of Le Miroir. For a long time we were following the hoof marks of a small deer, which met an unfortunate demise on the path with only its head left on show in a pool of red snow! Eeek! We didn’t hang around long to look for the culprit, but safe to say we asked locals from the safety of a bar about the likely wildlife able to carry this ambush out. At Le Miroir there is a handy bus service that takes you back to the main resort. To get the best from the off-piste then, hire a local guide, gear up and get stuck in.

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Safe to say that the nightlife in Ste. Foy is pretty quiet, but there are a small number of bars and eateries, including a pretty decent wine bar that has some atmosphere, so you can venture out on the chef’s day off. We ate at the Maison a Colonnes at the base of the slopes, and thoroughly enjoyed a “Witch’s Hat” pierrade (see pic) with all the theatre of cooking your own grub.

Well then, there you have it, a super little destination that is becoming increasingly better known in skiing circles, and ticks a lot of boxes for a wide range of needs. It’s a relatively new resort that retains a lot of charm, and for those that have found it there are enough compelling reasons to keep coming back, and to keep it as quiet as possible from the rest of the skiing fraternity.

Damn, I’ve let you into my secret.

Want more of Rob? Check out his review of Go Ski Meribel Chalet Review 2015

 

Why rock climbing can be good for your health

With the New Year here and about its a time that many of us look for new and more innovative ways of keeping fit and getting ourselves back on track.

Although going to the gym is an appealing option for many people, for some its just an area of over-crowded athletes, and for some of us this means looking elsewhere to get a real challenge.

The great outdoors offers an almost unlimited amount of options for people who are looking to keep fit and get outdoors at the same time.

If you are looking to combine a little adventure with a bit of health and fitness, then chances are that rock climbing is one sporty activity that you could look to take up to help you along with this task.

How can I get involved with rock climbing?

Once youve made the decision that you want to get stuck into rock climbing then it can often be hard to know where to start.

Luckily there are a number of avenues that you can follow if you want to get involved in this way.

One of the best and easiest ways to start out is by joining a rock climbing club, as this will allow you to meet like-minded people who are looking to get involved in sports just like you and where you to plan trips together.

Joining a rock climbing club can also be a great way to learn about the rock climbing industry from insiders, who have been rock climbing indoors as well as outdoors for years and who can give you information and insider tips on where is great to climb, the equipment that you need and the best times to climb.

What do I need?

Rock climbing requires good sturdy equipment.

If you are looking to get started on the rock climbing circuit then investing in the correct equipment can go a long way to ensuring that you really get the most out of your experience.

Its never easy when you are starting out but by making sure that you have the appropriate safety harnesses, the right climbing equipment and have undertaken at least some sort of basic training before you hit the rock faces, will make your first experience at rock climbing not only safer but also more enjoyable.

After all, rock climbing is not only physically tough; it can also be mentally exhausting.

Is it really good for my fitness?

Rock climbing is an exercise which works the entire body and it can leave you feeling incredibly sore afterwards.

Rock climbing is designed to build both strength and stamina and it does each of these tasks quickly, giving you a complete body workout and leaving you feeling exhausted but good, after your exercise.

Guest post by Paul James, Images from Alex Messenger.

Check out our selection of greatclimbing holidays-from mountaineering expeditions, ice climbing, rock climbing and via ferrata.

Paragliding off Kilimanjaro to raise 1 million dollars

Whilst many are looking for the next big adventure, the next record to be broken or the most almost-imaginative-stunt (Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartners 24-mile skydive from high in the stratosphere being one of them) a real world first was recently launched in London and is also a truly international event, for a great cause.

Female Adventurer Squash Falconer, who summitted Everest last year and has ridden a motorbike from the UK to Mont Blanc, climbed it, then paraglided off it, is joining a team of around 200 adventurers, including Commissioner of Police for the City of London Adrian Leppard and 1,000 porters from around the world to climb the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, before paragliding down from its 5895 metre peak on January 29, 2013.

The plan is to donate 100% of monies raised to support 3 charities, “One Foundation”, “Plant with Purpose” and World Serve International. These organisations are undertaking groundbreaking work in Tanzaniato address the severe problems of poverty in rural communities, deforestation and humanitarian issues including clean drinking water, HIV, nutrition and sanitation. They hope to raise at least 1 Million USD.

The challenge is the vision of Australian paraglider, Adrian McRae. Adrian spent two years negotiating with the Tanzanian government for a once-in-a-lifetime permit allowing a team of paragliders from around the world to launch off the peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain on the planet.

Wings of Kilimanjaro has already secured support from adventurers in over 60 countries from Peru to Russia who will begin their climb on 29 January 2013.If you want to support you can climb as a spectator, or fly with a professional flyer. The minimum to raise is just $5000 US.

Find out more at http://wingsofkilimanjaro.com and http://squashfalconer.com

Fancy climbing Kilimajaro and other charity treks? Check out the muchbetter options.

Written by Katy Dartford

Main image (Squash Falconer in action) credit David Spurdens.

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!

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!

Kit Review: Rab Generator Smock

Time tested 18 months
The Rab Generator Smock is an incredibly diverse piece of kit, which Ive used over the past 18 months to fill a range of uses.
The jacket features Primaloft insulation which is lightweight, warm, packable and isnt affected by water like down insulation is. Rab have used Pertex Quantum fabric for the shell, which is similarly lightweight, and is constructed with rip-stop properties. Whilst not totally windproof, the pertex quantum material cuts out most of the wind, and with the excellent Primaloft insulation, the jacket becomes a very good 3 season outer layer, assuming its not raining. The long zip means that the jacket opens up easily, and can be pulled over a bike helmet with no problems. A hand warming pouch at the front of the jacket provides shelter for chilly hands, although hands are separated by a sheet of fabric. The chest pocket is deep enough for an OS map and easily accessible.
Thanks to its ability to be pulled over a helmet, this jacket has spent a fair bit of time stuffed into trail packs, ready to be taken out during rest stops at the top of climbs, and even, when required, left on for cooler descents.
Im a big fan of layering, and as such Ive an un-insulated ski jacket. The Rab Generator Smock provided fantastic insulation for the ski season, often just matched with a warm base-layer underneath. Even in -20 degree temperatures, I never felt too cold. Inevitably when skiing, moisture does collect in certain areas, the arms especially. Other than the long zip, there is no other venting on this jacket.
Rab havent designed the Generator Smock as a wet weather jacket, so it would seem unfair to dwell on its wet weather performance. Not that this would be a particular problem, however. Without a waterproof shell, the Pertex Quantum offers a small degree of water resistance, with short showers not posing much of a problem. Longer spells of rain, or heavy downpours would leave you wet though. This is where the Primaloft has its benefit over down insulations, as it continues to perform well when wet, and doesnt clump up beneficial for when it is drying out.
Aesthetically the jacket could be a little better. I personally like the Pertex Quantum fabric its smooth and shiny, and has a very nylon-y rustle about it (ok, Im not selling it, I know!). However, Ive certainly heard people talk about my bin bag jacket. The front pouch-like pocket also seems to bulge out a bit, making me look somewhat chubbier than I really am! In reality though, this is just nit-picking.
I guess my only other concern is the jackets sense of fragility. The jacket weighs in at 330 grams (medium), which is fairly light thanks to its 30g/m2 Pertex Quantum fabric. The durability of this fabric is always in the back of my mind as I sit on, or brush against rocks. On forums and the like I have also heard mumblings of a fall in build quality of Rab kit recently. This may well be hearsay however, and despite my concern, the jacket has held up very well. Ive not suffered any tears in the fabric, no loose threads hanging anywhere, the elasticated drawstring at the waist has performed perfectly with no stretching and the zips still zip very well.

Time tested 18 months

The Rab Generator Smock is an incredibly versatile piece of kit, which Ive used over the past 18 months to fill a range of uses.

The jacket features Primaloft insulation which is lightweight, warm, packable and isnt affected by water like down insulation is. Rab have used Pertex Quantum fabric for the shell, which is similarly lightweight, and is constructed with rip-stop properties. Whilst not totally windproof, the pertex quantum material cuts out most of the wind, and with the excellent Primaloft insulation, the jacket becomes a very good 3 season outer layer, assuming its not raining. The long zip means that the jacket opens up easily, and can be pulled over a bike helmet with no problems. A hand warming pouch at the front of the jacket provides shelter for chilly hands, although hands are separated by a sheet of fabric. The chest pocket is deep enough for an OS map and easily accessible.

Thanks to its ability to be pulled over a helmet, this jacket has spent a fair bit of time stuffed into trail packs, ready to be taken out during rest stops at the top of climbs, and even, when required, left on for cooler descents.

Im a big fan of layering, and as such Ive an un-insulated ski jacket. The Rab Generator Smock provided fantastic insulation for the ski season, often just matched with a warm base-layer underneath. Even in -20 degree temperatures, I never felt too cold. Inevitably when skiing, moisture does collect in certain areas, the arms especially. Other than the long zip, there is no other venting on this jacket.

Rab havent designed the Generator Smock as a wet weather jacket, so it would seem unfair to dwell on its wet weather performance. Not that this would be a particular problem, however. Without a waterproof shell, the Pertex Quantum offers a small degree of water resistance, with short showers not posing much of a problem. Longer spells of rain, or heavy downpours would leave you wet though. This is where the Primaloft has its benefit over down insulations, as it continues to perform well when wet, and doesnt clump up beneficial for when it is drying out.

Aesthetically the jacket could be a little better. I personally like the Pertex Quantum fabric its smooth and shiny, and has a very nylon-y rustle about it (ok, Im not selling it, I know!). However, Ive certainly heard people talk about my bin bag jacket. The front pouch-like pocket also seems to bulge out a bit, making me look somewhat chubbier than I really am!

In reality though, this is just nit-picking. I guess my only other concern is the jackets sense of fragility. The jacket weighs in at 330 grams (medium), which is fairly light thanks in part to its 30g/m2 Pertex Quantum fabric. The durability of this fabric is always in the back of my mind as I sit on, or brush against rocks. On forums and the like I have also heard mumblings of a fall in build quality of Rab kit recently. This may well be hearsay however, and despite my concern, the jacket has held up very well. Ive not suffered any tears in the fabric, no loose threads hanging anywhere, the elasticated drawstring at the waist has performed perfectly with no stretching and the zips still zip very well.

Overall, this is one of my favourite pieces of kit. Its versatility and warmth mean I use it almost daily (except in the summer!). I would definitely recommend this piece to anyone looking for a good autumn/winter/spring insulating or outer layer.

Got all the kit, but need somewhere to use it? See our Trekking Holidays and Walking Holidays pages for ideas.

Photos by Haute Productions.

Video = This is My Winter

This is possibly the best ski/snowboard pre-season edit we’ve seen this year. Stunning locations, mental lines and plenty of sketchyness… Well worth 30 minutes of your time!

Enjoyed that? We’ve a wealth of other great ski and snowboard articles in the Grapevine, so why not check out our article on Getting Fit for the Slopes, or Ski touring in the Neretva Valley? We also have guides to ski areas, such as Doorstep Ski’s Guide to Morzine, and Meet the members articles, such as Sno-Limit.

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!

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.

MuleBar bring out compostable wrappers.

MuleBar are rolling out compostable wrappers across their range as a way of combating the environmental pressure caused by food wrappings. With increasing numbers of people taking part in events, and consuming energy products during their leisure time, our countryside is becoming covered in plastic.

MuleBar’s compostable wrappers are obviously not an excuse to drop litter, but enable you to take home and dispose of them in an environmentally sensible way, echoing the company’s sustainable ethos.

Using non-GMO wood pulp from certified sources, the wrappers can be composted at home, or industrially. The way the composting takes places means that the wrappers won’t degrade on your shelves, as they require warmth, moisture and the presence of micro-organisms to initiate the degradation.

The compostable wrappers are first being used on the most popular flavour, Apple Strudel, and their range of products can be found on theMuleBar website, in cycle shops and independent sports retailers (as well as in selected Tesco stores).

Whilst we’re on the subject of MuleBar, check out the MuleBar GIRL video below – great little edit!

Ladies Pursuits from liammurphyfilms.com on Vimeo.