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 up-and-coming 22 year-old Scottish winter climber Uisdean Hawthorn has let us into his impressive self-built gear store.
Up until very recently my gear has been in the back of my van, piled high in a cupboard or spread out on all radiators around the house. However, Dad and I now have a wee store room that I built and organised for him. I thought by doing this, he wouldn’t mind so much when I borrow his gear. He was quick to point out it’s now very easy for him to tell if something is missing! Hmmm maybe it wasn’t such a good idea then (I’m climbing a lot at the moment so his always seems to be shinier, and less ripped or broken than mine).
"I regularly use my nut key as a spoon as I always seem to forget mine."
First bit of owned kit: My Dad gave me his old Salewa crampons they were very bendy and rubbish. Dad used a set on the North Face of the Eiger in the 80’s and they had both broken and fallen off by the time they topped out. Why he then got another pair who knows!
First bit of bought kit: Grivel Salamander helmet. The foam on the inside fell out before a climb so I put a spare glove in the top to fill the space. After that I decided to go for something lighter.
Favourite item: My Van - it gets me to the crags and allows me to climb and no fancy bit of hardware can top that!
What I couldn’t live without: Hammer on my Axe, even though it’s not quite as big as I would like, on a thin ice route being able to hammer a peg or anything that you can in is definitely worth it as it could be your last bit of protection for a long long way.
Most battered/ loved kit: Number 7 DMM off-set, I always save it for the crux. It just fits in places where regular wires don’t and if it isn’t quite seated in correctly then I batter it with my axe.
Can’t bear to throw away: Anything, I mean why do I still have those crampons!?
Most recent purchase: A Homebase extendable pole, jubilee clip and a crocodile clip that I have turned into a clip stick, all for £5.
Item that got me out of tricky situation: My ski goggles, in full-on Scottish conditions - 60-70 MPH winds, sideways hail the lot. Robin Clothier and I were half-way up Route 2 on Ben Nevis when Robin snapped an axe clean in half. At least after putting my goggles on I could see just about enough to rig the abseils and get us out of there!
Desert island kit: All my joinery tools - at least I could build a boat and escape or make somewhere nice to live.
Luxury item: An IPod, an audiobook makes those long, cold bivis pass a lot faster.
Strangest thing used as gear: I once stacked two cams together as we didn’t have one big enough. The silly French guidebook said there would be a bolt, there wasn’t! Not quite sure if they would have held, thankfully I didn’t have to find out.
I have also wedged my belay plate in a crack as a runner.
Strangest use for a bit of gear: I regularly use my nut key as a spoon as I always seem to forget mine...
Hoarder or get rid of it: Hoarder
Organised or disorganised: Organised but organised to me may be disorganised to most
Brand loyal or best of everything: Best of everything
Get it scratched or keep it shiny: Scratched, normally very scratched
Quick wash or polish and clean: Quick wash
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