Diving in Eygpt

From the 29th October 2014 to 30th January 2015 I will be working with Blue O Two in The Red Sea. Should be weeks of sun and warm water diving.

Hopefully I will be able to do some stuff with Red Sea Sharks whilst I am out there and might even see "Henry" who I sponsor

I will be on live-aboard dive boats most weeks so am likely to post weekly on my return to dry land.

Dartmoor Climbing

My last clients of 2014 were Toby (12 today) and his dad Steve. We started at Haytor where Toby and Steve followed me up Bulging Wall before Toby led Step Across on Pre-placed gear and the second time with a mixture of pre placed and placing his own. After a short lunch we headed round to Hound Tor to see if it was any less windy (not really) where Toby led Paddy twice placing his own gear. We also looked at abseiling, reading a guidebook and coiling ropes. A busy day with nice weather but very cold in the wind.

The next post explains why these are the last clients of 2014.

70 Apprentices at Runnage Farm

This week I have been again working in my role as a member of Bridgwater College staff with 70 apprentices at Runnage Farm for a week of outdoor activities. Due to the numbers involved, my main job was managing the 10 instructors and other staff but I did get out and about at some points.

During the week, the students went rock climbing either at Sheeps Tor, The Dewerstone or Dart Rock if raining. They had a days off road cycling and a 2 day expedition with some challenges involved. Even with the weather not being great, we managed to get a lot done during the week.

In the evenings we had an interesting talk from Darren Swift about his expedition to Everest back in 2003, watched Touching the Void and even a Disco in a marque.

My thanks to the team of instructors involved.

Climbing at Dart Rock

On the final day of the L3 Residential, Dan and I took the students to Dart Rock for some climbing away from the rain. We had a mix of bouldering, top roping, lead climbing and caving going on.

This week is the first work I have done with this particular group and I am looking forward to working with them again in the future

Torbay Coasteering

On day 3 we headed to Torbay and I took half the students Coasteering whilst Dan took them out on Sit on Top Kayaks before swapping over. The water was warm and there was just enough swell to be fun.

As the students had been gorge walking yesterday, they were able to transfer these skills to the coastal environment and needed very little input from me other than letting them know where it was safe to jump.

River walking in The Plym

Back out with the L3 students in the River Plym today at The Dewerstone. As the river had gone down drastically since Monday it was fine to be in there and the students had fun trying to work their way upstream against the flow. By working as a team they made progress against flows that the individuals were unable to walk against.. The other students were with Dan looking at Navigation before swapping over.

The picture below shows why we did not do this on Monday.

Sunny Climbing at Sheep's Tor

Today I was working in my role of outdoor education lecturer at Bridgwater College and was based at Sheep's Tor with the L3 Outdoor Adventure students. I had half the group in the morning whilst the others went biking with Dan. We swapped after lunch had had a great time in the sun.

The aim of the day was for the students to be able to run a safe session for themselves and they managed this really well with only a few pointers from me.

SPA Training Day 2 - Cheesewring

Today we were at Cheesewring Quarry near Liskeard, somewhere I have not been for some time. It stayed dry today and we covered abseiling, group management, problem solving and revisited some of the skills from yesterday to see how much easier it is in the dry.

All 8 candidates now need to go climbing and assist with groups before they decide to book an assessment. If anyone based in Plymouth, Somerset or Essesx need help with groups let me know and I can put you in contact.

SPA Training Day 1 - Dewerstone

Today I was working for Mark Garland directing an SPA training with Mal Dickson at The Dewerstone. It was one very wet day with heavy showers and hail interspersed with some warm sunshine. We spent the day looking at setting up climbs and abseils and top roping a few routes to look at belay and climbing skills.

We then visited the Life Centre wall for a much drier evening session

Boots vs Trainers

I have been aware for some time (years) of the ongoing views of Boot vs Trail Shoes vs Trainers in the hills. A post on the Facebook DofE Assessors page has prompted me to write this which contains a mixture of my opinions/experience and some facts.

This is based on summer walking in hill or mountain terrain.

So here we go

I have use a well known high end brand to show some differences in weight and price. This is probably the regular recreational user end of the market

Boots - £130 - A pair Scarpa Cyclone Boot at 1100g size 42
Approach Shoe - £135 - A pair Scarpa Vortex Shoe at 920g size 42
Trail/Run - £100 - A pair of Scarpa Spark at 538g size 42

I have use a well known low end brand to show some differences in price. This is probably the DofE end of the market

PRICE (and as often at the lower end, no weights listed)
Boots - £65 - A pair HiTec Alltitude
Approach Shoe -£50 - A pair HiTec Alto 
Trail/Run - £30 - A pair of HiTec Phantom

I have looked at a number of other makes and have come to the following conclusions

At both ends of the market the boot seems to be the more expensive option and the boots are heavier

The trainer style is definitely lighter and normally much cheaper.

The approach shoe is often similarly priced to a boot and is lighter but not as light as a running shoe/trainer.

1)Boots support my ankle/I will twist my ankle in trainers
There is no evidence to suggest this is true. In fact, most evidence suggest that in order to prevent ankle injuries you need to strengthen you ankles and you do this by wearing footwear that allows your ankles to move.

2)My boots keep me dry
Well they might if you step in a puddle that is lower than the boot. However, wet grass and deeper puddles will allow water in and boots take longer to dry out than trainers

3)Boots give me better grip
Not true, the sole gives the grip, the boot has little to do with is (we are not talking about hard snow)

Often people are not used to wearing boots so to insist they wear boots to walk on terrain they are unfamiliar with is not a great idea. Shoes or Trainers that they own already, are comfortable and don't give blisters are a much better option.

Skiers break their legs/damage their knees because the leg is clamped in a boot from the shin down and the ankle can't flex or roll.
Personally I view the ankle as a sacrificial joint and I would rather sprain or strain it than break my leg/damage knee by weaning boots unnecessarily

Boots are heavier than trainers. If (using examples above) we compare them, I would be lifting around 600 grams every pace. For me this is 37kg per 100m so in my 10 km day 3700kg of unnecessary weight.

Heavier boots = heavier impact = more erosion
Lighter shoes = light impact = less erosion

So my choice is
Running Trainers for 90% of my summer work on the moors and in the mountains
Occasional Boot use for wet rock scrambling

Please lets stop forcing the MUST WEAR BOOTS myth in our work with DofE and novice groups etc and educate them to make their own decision based on personal and environmental considerations.

Some other blogs with views


The Ramblers Association offers the following advice on the best footwear for walking and hiking:
  • For short walks in urban areas or easy countryside, all you need is a good, comfortable pair of shoes that won’t cause blisters. Use tough shoes that are a good fit, with an arch support, a slightly elevated heel and "breathable" uppers such as leather. Casual shoes or quality trainers with heavy soles will do.
  • If you go walking regularly, you could invest in a pair of proper walking shoes or some lightweight walking boots. These will give your feet and ankles support and may be waterproof. For highland walks over difficult terrain, good walking boots are essential.

will add more as I find them

Clinical studies

The factor in footwear design that has most frequently investigated is the possible role of high-top shoes in reducing the risk of ankle sprains (Petrov 1988). The results from three studies indicate that, in the absence of additional taping or external support, wearing high-top shoes does not reduce the risk of ankle sprains. Indeed, in one study, the wearing of low-top shoes resulted in a lower incidence of ankle sprains compared to high-top shoes (Rovere et al. 1988). In two recently published meta-analysises, it was also concluded that the role of footwear in the prevention of ankle sprains was not clear (Quinn et al. 2000).

In summery, although a protective influence of footwear is suggested from the results of biomechanical studies, footwear without additional support from taping and bracing does not appear to have a strong influence on the risk of ankle sprain. The potential negative effect that footwear may have on the proprioceptive function of the foot requires further investigation.

Risk factors for lateral ankle sprain: a prospective study among military recruits.

Milgrom C, Shlamkovitch N, Finestone A, Eldad A, Laor A, Danon YL, Lavie O, Wosk J, Simkin A.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel.

In a prospective study of risk factors for lateral ankle sprain among 390 male Israeli infantry recruits, a 18% incidence of lateral ankle sprains was found in basic training. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of lateral ankle sprains between recruits who trained in modified basketball shoes or standard lightweight infantry boots. By multivariate stepwise logistic regression a statistically significant relationship was found between body weight x height (a magnitude which is proportional to the mass moment of inertia of the body around a horizontal axis through the ankle), a previous history of ankle sprain, and the incidence of lateral ankle sprains. Recruits who were taller and heavier and thus had larger mass moments of inertia (P = 0.004), and those with a prior history of ankle sprain (P = 0.01) had higher lateral ankle sprain morbidity in basic training.

1: Sports Med. 1995 Oct;20(4):277-80.Links

The role of shoes in the prevention of ankle sprains.

Barrett J, Bilisko T.

University of Oklahoma, Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, USA.

Ankle sprains are a common sports injury that can cause significant, chronic disability. Studies aimed at prevention through the use of footwear have focused on the biomechanical aspects of foot and ankle anatomy, proprioceptive input of the foot/ankle complex, external stresses applied to the joint, and shoe traction. These studies support the use of high top shoes for ankle sprain prevention because of their ability to limit extreme ranges of motion, provide additional proprioceptive input and decrease external joint stress. Despite this biomechanical evidence, clinical trials are inconclusive as to the clinical benefit of high top shoes in the prevention of ankle sprains. Further study is necessary to delineate the benefits of shoe designs for ankle sprain prevention

3 Star Sea in Cornwall

Today I was down at St Austell with Dan who was going for his 3 Star Sea. Rich Uren was the assessor for the day and I had a nice paddle observing the assessment and being the body for a rescue. Conditions were good with some swell to play with and we saw a couple of seals whilst we were out and about. Well done Dan for  good pass.

Sunny Sea Kayak in Torbay

The day started with heavy rain and a browse (with quite a few purchases) at the AS Watersports sale in Exeter before heading to Torbay with Dan for some sunny sea kayaking from Meadfoot Beach. The plan was just for Dan to get some time in a sea boat as well as for me to get back in my Avocet which has been at AS Watersports for some TLC as it was looking a bit battered. In the sale this morning Dan bought the same cag and buoyancy aid as me so we must have looked like a set of twins.

Bees and Blue Lagoon Diving

Today after "helping" Ken with his bees (well standing and watching the bees get buzy), Ken and I dived in the Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy. I have swum, kayaked and coasteered here before so it was time to look underneath it all. Well it all went very dark and poor vis at around 16m so we stayed just above this and swum round looking for Lobsters. We saw three small ones and a few crabs.