What's in Your Gear Store? #3

© Ian Fenton

In this series of short articles, we ask climbers that all-important question that gets a gear freak's eyes bulging: "What's in your gear store?" Generally, "store" could be representative of something ranging from a messy pile on the floor to an obsessively organised, purpose-built storage cupboard adorned with hanging compartments, electrical tape, labels and shiny kit categorised by brand, function and size...or, if you're really posh, you'll have a gear room.

This week Ian Fenton has let us into his gear store.

Ian's dry gear store  © Ian Fenton
Ian's dry gear store
© Ian Fenton

"Prior to working in the outdoor industry, I always loved to know how gear could be used and abused. I think this helps you push, and with a good partner get out of anything."

Ian and Bev Fenton  © Ian Fenton
Ian and Bev Fenton
© Ian Fenton
Ian is a 50-odd year old climber and instructor from Lancs, via Aviemore and North Wales (and spends quite a bit of time in Orpierre, France) and is now back in Lancs. He is a freelance instructor who provides a number of MTE courses both indoors and out, and also runs personal coaching courses indoors and out.

Ian started climbing on grit in the 70s, and still climbs on that and other rock types as often as possible, though preferably in the sun. Ian holds the Mountaineering Instructors Certificate, and International Mountain Leader, allowing him to work anywhere in Britain at any time of year, and internationally away from Glacial terrain.

Gear all re-racked and re-coiled
© Ian Fenton

First bit of owned kit: I started climbing with my ‘big’ brother in the Scouts, they would not allow us to lead, so we borrowed their oldest thinnest rope, and we treated it as our own to go climbing.

Using a thin Scouts rope in the Lakes, 1972
© Ian Fenton

First bit of bought kit: Not quite my first bit of bought kit, but I remember ‘saving up’ to buy my first two Friends when they came out, a 2 and a 3; and I’ve still got them.

Favourite item: My Patagonia down jumper, my local shop had two and as he could not sell them said I could buy one at half price, I bought both as two for one, and keep one here and one in France, brilliant for indoors or out, and they seem indestructible over 10 years on.

What I couldn’t live without: I guess my 5.10 boots, I have used 5.10 for over 15 years, and swear by them, both rock and approach shoes, though don’t walk across your mum’s new white lino floor in them if you want your tea made!

Most battered/ loved kit: For over 10 years this was my Karrimor Alpinist light sac, I could not find anything as comfortable (designed and made in Accrington, Lancs, so perfect), but recently I have given in to a Deuter, which seems as comfy, and if it does half the service of my Karrimor it will be fantastic.

Friends on old Bonatti krabs  © Ian Fenton
Friends on old Bonatti krabs
© Ian Fenton

Can’t bear to throw away: See first bought kit.

Most recent purchase: An Edelweiss Performance 9.2 rope, I have used thinner ropes for a while, and love their knotting and handling properties, and when I get on longer pitches I need all the help I can get, so less weight and friction offsets my increases.

Item that got me out of tricky situation:  I guess two things which may seem weird and not really gear-related, but always climbing with partners I trust, and knowledge. Prior to working in the outdoor industry, I always loved to know how gear could be used and abused. I think this helps you push, and with a good partner get out of anything.

Desert island kit: If on my own, 5.10 pinkies, a chalk bag and the Bridestones; I’d be happy as a pig at the Bridies.

Luxury item: Probably my Zojirushi flask with hot Vimto, lasts about 24 hours and the smell, then taste always makes me smile.

A well-used flask  © Ian Fenton
A well-used flask
© Ian Fenton

Strangest thing used as gear: When we started climbing we thought it was ok to place pegs in routes where they were mentioned as runners, so I made a whole set of pegs out of bits of scrap school desks stacked outside our school, one peg outlasted three editions of the Yorks Grit guide as the ‘large protrusion of metal’ in Trespasser at Heptonstall.

Strangest use for bit of gear: I drove onto a beach on Anglesey and the car sunk up to its belly about 75 metres onto the beach, so we tied together two 50m 9mm ropes and persuaded a 4 x 4 driver on the car park to have the other end, it was amazing to watch the stretch before the car was ‘boinged’ out of the sand!

Quick-fire Questions

Hoarder or get rid of it: Hoarder

Organised or disorganised: Depends who you ask...

Brand loyal or best of everything: Brand loyal

Get it scratched or keep it shiny: Scratched

Quick wash or polish and clean: Quick wash - but often


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24 Mar, 2015
...more than slightly alarmed by the rattler, great anti-theft device though!
25 Mar, 2015
Thats 2 out of 3 using IKEA stuff to house alot of it! I do the same!
25 Mar, 2015
When are we going to see inside a girl's gear store?!
26 Mar, 2015
Hi Rachel, There will be some from women arriving soon hopefully. If anyone wants to show us inside their gear store they're welcome, by going into Articles and "Send us Your Article" at the top of the page. Can't promise to use them all though!
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