Back in a cold and damp May this year, Claire Maxted and Sarah Ryan of Trail Running Magazine ran part of the Knoydart section of the Cape Wrath Trail as a recce of the new Cape Wrath Ultra, which will take place for the first time in May 2016.
The Cape Wrath Ultra takes place over 8 days covering 400km with over 12,000m of ascent. The race starts at Fort William and finishes at Cape Wrath at the North Western tip of Scotland.
Half the race is on rocky trails; a quarter over mud, streams, and boulder fields; and the rest over completely un-trailed terrain. The longest day is a punishing 64km and the toughest is (day 4) around Beinn Eighe to Kinlochewe.
The Cape Wrath Ultra has a bag drop system for overnight kit but if, like Claire and Sarah, you want to recce the route you’ll need to carry a tent and sleeping bag. Both Claire and Sarah went with a ‘sleep system’ approach of combining two PHD sleeping bags, one inside the other.
They ran with our Minimus Bag boosted with our Filler Bag to provide warmth for May’s -5°C at the Barisdale Bothy. It’s a clever system, two bags give three options: The Filler on its own in high summer, The Minimus on its own for the cooler nights of Autumn and Spring, and the two bags combined for Winter months. What’s more two small stuff sacs pack easier than one in a runner’s backpack.
Feedback from Claire and Sarah: “genius.”
Following a successful expedition to the Fox Jaw Cirque, East Greenland in 2014, Simon Smith (with climbing partner Graham Dawson) are about to be the first British team to visit The Bilibino Valley in the Siberian Arctic.
Simon and Graham aim to achieve first ascents of a series of newly-discovered granite monoliths, including “The Kommander”. They’ll be climbing alpine style and living for 3 weeks in the Siberian wilderness which is frozen for 8 months of the year.
Simon will, again, be taking one of our ‘K Series’ Rondoy Down Jackets. In Greenland he found it had "exceptional warmth to weight ratio” and was “fantastically rugged … after the 6 week expedition it still looked brand new despite rough ledge bivis & daily wear."
We wish Simon and Graham all the best in Siberia.
Jon Griffith and Will Sim recently returned from climbing the unclimbed NW face of Mt Deborah in Alaska. They’ve called their new route ‘Bad to the Bone’. The climb involved about 2200m of ascent in a really wild and remote part of the State.
Their tent got flattened at 5am on the first night meaning they had to dig a huge snow cave. Fortunately the Ultrashell fabric on the Hispar 600 ‘K Series’ Down Sleeping Bags we supplied meant the bags stayed “impressively damp-free throughout”. In fact Jon said they were “ace.”
Kili in a Kilt
Nick Hopkinson (MBE) has just summited Kilimanjaro in a kilt. Not the first to do so, but probably the warmest thanks to these Wafer down shorts we made him. We think it's forgiveable not being a 'true scotsman' at 5895m!
Nick also took PHD Omega down boots for the tent, down mitts which "were amazing", a Minimus down jacket, a Toubkal down jacket, a 'Filler' down sleeping bag liner, a 'Design your Own' sleeping bag, and - finally - Minimus Down Trousers! He says "all the gear was fantastic and made the trip more comfortable."
Wall to Wall 2014
Simon Smith and his team mates* had a fantastic six week expedition to the Fox Jaw Cirque, East Greenland last summer. They put up five new routes, and repeated three. The new routes included ‘Rampant’ on Left Rabbit Ear (E4 6a).
Simon took one of our new ‘K Series’ Rondoy Down Jackets and found it had "exceptional warmth to weight ratio” and was “fantastically rugged … after a 6 week expedition it still looks brand new despite rough ledge bivis & daily wear." Read Simon’s report on the Rondoy Jacket, and the full expedition report.
* - Cath Alldred, Sion Brocklehurst, Robert Durran, and Pat Ingram.
Jorasses North Face #10 for Jon Griffith - "powered by PHD kit"
On 2 November Jonathan Griffith completed his fifth route on the Jorasses North Face this season (making a career total of 10). That’s quite an achievement.
Jon used our sleeping bags and down jackets on most of those routes. With conditions so good this year he could avoid the busy hut, and bivvy at the base or on the face.
Jon says that even if the hut hadn’t been so full he would have “still opted for bivying given how light your bags are”. He says that our bags have been “instrumental to the routes I’ve done this year … some of the hardest routes, like ‘Manitua’ and ‘No Siesta’, were powered by your bags.”
Our unique 1000 fill-power down is one reason we’ve been able to make our kit so – in his words – “insanely” light.
We’ll leave the last words to Jon: “‘Game changer’ is not a quote I use often but what you guys do has undeniably changed how I climb in the Alps and in the Great Ranges. Doing ten routes on this iconic face has been…well…a dream!”
Ed Stafford made his name as the first person to walk the length of the river Amazon, an incredible feat that took more than 2 years.
Ed is about to start filming a new series for Discovery Channel, and he's packing one of our Minim Ultra Down Sleeping Bags.
We're not sure where he's going (except that's it a "very remote desert location") but at just 330g this bag is so light and packs down so small Ed will hardly notice he's carrying it.
Photo credit: TheLazyWorkaholic
Adele Returns from Dhaulagiri (8146m)
Adele Pennington is one of the World's top female mountaineers. She was the first British woman to summit Everest twice, and is the only British woman to have climbed five 8000m peaks. Adele has just returned from Dhaulagiri (8146m) where bad weather forced her to abandon the attempt at a high point of 7500m.
Adele uses PHD high altitude clothing and sleeping bags and makes no secret of the fact she is unwilling to compromise on quality gear when climbing in such hostile environments. On this trip she took her Diamir 1200 sleeping bag, her Omega Shell suit, Omega Down suit, Alpha Belay Jacket, Omega Mitts, and Omega Boots.
Adele has posted a video of the trip here, and is available for guiding.
Arctic Race Seasons Begins
Andy and Alan, sponsored by Polaris Bikewear, are riding the 1000 mile race on mountain bikes and needed the lightest possible jackets for temperatures as low as -40c.
The Hispar jackets weigh just 700grms (24oz) and they pack down small. We used our water resistent Drishell fabric & our highest quality 1000 Down.
Arctic Race Seasons Begins
Our Hispar 1000 sleeping bag is an ideal choice for winter races in the Arctic Circle. These are the bags we've just made for two bike riders, sponsored by Polaris Bikewear, entered in the 1000 mile Iditarod invitational.
The bags are warm enough for -46c (-51F) but weigh just 1470grms (52oz) thanks to our highest quality Down. They also have water resistant Drishell outers.
Ben Weber: 360 Extremes Expedition
We've just had a visit from Ben Weber who called in at the factory to collect the expedition kit we made for him and his partner Natalia in preparation for their 360 Extremes Expedition. Over three years the pair will sail, cycle, and kite-ski around the globe. They will travel via both the south and North Poles, and the expedition patron is, naturally, Ranulph Fiennes.
For the expedition Ben selected the Denali Jacket made with a waterproof HS2 shell, Xero Salopettes, Xero Windsuit, Omega Mitts, Xero Boots, Overbags and VBLs, Ultra Down vest, Tiaga fleece jackets and Trousers and Extreme Balaclavas.
We wish them good luck on the start of their expedition November or December 2014.
Jon Griffith & Andy Houseman - Charakusa Valley
When Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman were planning their expedition to the Charakusa Valley in Pakistan they both wanted the "warmest for weight" sleeping bags in the world, so they turned to our Design Your Own Sleeping bag site. Planning to climb Link Sar (7041m) and Sulu Peak (6050m) and taking a single-skin tent that typically creates heavy condensation, Jon knew he need to specify our Drishell waterproof fabric for the outer, as well as for the inner hood panels. They also took with them our new Filler bags and Wafer down socks for flexible extra warmth. You can follow Jon and Andy's progress at Andy's blog. Photo: PHD sleeping bags at the col (5700m) below North Ridge of Drifka (6447m).
Jamie's Northern Exposures
Jamie Hageman (right) is a professional artist living in Scotland. He paints from high mountain camps and, with all the extra equipment he carries, needs a very light winter sleeping bag, and a warm jacket to handle everything from heavy downpours to the coldest of British winter mountain weather. He chose our Hispar 500 Sleeping Bag and a Kappa Jacket as they fit his requirements perfectly.
Jamie says that over the last year he has "worn the Kappa non-stop for everything" and "it was great to know that if the weather got warm and wet (and it did a few times), the Kappa could keep me dry." He did a few technical climbs on his trips and "enjoyed tucking myself away from the elements with the hood up".
One of the places he bivvied with the Hispar sleeping bag was Coire na Caime on Liathach for sunrise on the Northern Pinnacles. His picture of the Pinnacles (below) from that trip is fantastic - and all the better for being a painting.
From Siberia to the Russian Route, Eiger North Face
Last seen with Tom Hardy in Siberia, the very same PHD Omega Down Jacket has just shown up being worn by Neil Chelton on his winter attempt of the Russian Route Eiger North Face with Andy Kirkpatrick and Ross Kane. Thanks to Andy for the video and photos.
More on Andy's blog.
PHD supply 'Driven to Extremes' team for trip on Siberian Kolyma Highway
The new UK Discovery Channel mini-series 'Driven to Extremes', highlights three of the world's most punishing road trips. The Siberian leg, a 1,000 km drive along the Kolyma Highway from Yakutsk to Oymyakon (the coldest inhabited place on earth), teams actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception etc) with Mika Salo (ex Formula One racing driver).
PHD were chosen to supply Tom, Mika and the rest of the team with gear to keep them warm in temperatures that fell to -68C. They used our Omega Jackets, Omega salopettes, Omega mitts and Xero 1300 Sleeping Bags.
Adele Pennington Becomes 1st British Woman to Summit Five 8000'ers
Adele Pennington successfully summited Lhotse on Friday 25th of May wearing one of our Omega Down Suits. At 8,516m Lhotse is Adele's fifth 8000m mountain and she is now the only British woman to have climbed five 8000m peaks. We kitted Adele out in a made-to-measure xxs Omega Down Suit.
Adele also used a "short and slim" PHD Diamir 1200 Down Sleeping bag to cope with the extreme night time temperatures. We already offer 'Short', and 'Long' sizes across our sleeping bag range, and have just introduced a 'Extra Long' sizes in our Minim range. The Minim range will soon be available in 'Slim', 'Wide', and 'Extra Wide' fittings too (watch this space).
Kenton Cool Summits Everest in our Xero Wind Suit
When Kenton Cool completed his mission to take an Olympic gold medal to the top of Mount Everest, he was wearing a specially-made PHD Xero Wind Suit.
It's Kenton's 10th time on the summit: a feat unequalled by any other Briton.
Let's not forget his back-up team: whose hard work was essential to the success of the expedition (we also made a suit for Kenton's cameraman).
Our capacity to make-to-order in small quantities meant we were able to make Kenton's Wind Suit in the corporate colours of his main sponsor, Samsung.
Sir Ran Fiennes to attempt 'most difficult polar challenge in history'
Sir Ranulph Fiennes announced his plan to walk across the Antarctic continent in the polar winter of 2013. No one has attempted such an expedition before, which will take place in total darkness and in temperatures down to minus 90 degrees Celsius
PHD are proud to be official suppliers of Down Jackets, Down Sleeping Bags, Down Trousers and Down Mitts and Boots to the expedition.
Expedition Organiser & Leader, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, said PHD's down clothing is "a keystone of our ability to mount this, the most difficult and ambitious polar challenge in history".