Expedition kit fit for purpose

I believe that there are 4 pieces of kit which are absolute essentials and form the backbone of my kit on any expedition, whether instructing DofE students or out in Nepal climbing Everest. These are boots, sleeping bag, rucksack and waterproofs. Having comfy feet, being toasty in the coldest conditions, feeling my backpack is robust enough for the jobs ahead, staying dry and warm on the inside in the harshest of weather – and knowing that this kit will not be a liability – is key to me being at my best in any situation.

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Outdoors Down Under

After winning best ‘Spirit of Adventure’ image in David Noton’s annual Chasing the Light photo competition, we asked winner Todd Stein to write about outdoor life Down Under.

The winning image, Milky Way over the Outback, was taken in July 2016 during a camping trip to Kooroorinya Falls Nature Reserve, south of Hughenden in Outback Queensland. We were the only campers, so the caretaker let us camp in this unused corrugated iron shack, which had a lovely fireplace just outside, where we did our cooking. My wife and children were already asleep when I noticed that the burnt down fire was just bright enough to illuminate the rusty shack. I took 6 vertical shots and stitched them on my computer to create this panorama.

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The Mother of all Mountains

I made the decision to climb Everest back in 2014. I’d already reached the summit of Manaslu, the world’s 8th highest mountain, in September 2013. Before that I’d said no to Everest swayed by the negative journalism, the commercialism, the ‘buy your way onto the mountain’ attitude – but, probably, most of all because I did not think I was capable. However, I decided that I’d said no too many times in my past life – I had never even thought I was capable of walking up Snowdon in years gone by! I wanted to climb Everest to test my capabilities, face my fears and do it for everyone who I’ve had the pleasure of leading up a mountain, in the UK and abroad.

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Owling in Páramo

Now that we’re into April, this breeding season’s owling is well into its swing. Owling is the name our group gives to the activity of putting up nest boxes and monitoring them for these magnificent birds. In the UK, Barn Owls, Little Owls and Tawny Owls breed inside pre-existing cavities, such as tree hollows and outbuildings, but all will breed in nest boxes. Short-eared Owls are ground nesters and Long-eared Owls prefer to breed in old Magpie and Crow nests.

I started owling in 2006 and have been hooked ever since. I get immense joy seeing owls up close, but am predominantly driven by a desire to provide additional nest sites for them, to ring any chicks, and to contribute to the BTO’s nest record scheme. Whilst ideally we’d like all owls to breed in natural cavities, research has shown that a shortage of suitable nest sites can limit owl numbers. Furthermore, at some sites, especially in modern farm buildings, nest boxes can provide a more secure nest site compared with semi-exposed sites without vegetation.

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