Sep 6, 2012

The People You Meet: The Royal Mail Postman bearing gifts of mountain kit

One of the more random people that I’ve met along the way of in this crazy mountaineering journey is my friendly local Royal Mail postman. Central London isn’t exactly the mountaineering mecca of the world and you’d have a much easier time finding a pair of Gucci heels or Alexander McQueen gown within a ten mile radius than a pair of high-altitude boots and a matching down suit. So, needless to say, I can now add ‘online shopping’ to my extensive CV alongside being able to light an epigas stove above 7000m and set up an altitude tent in the comforts of my bedroom.
Over the course of past expeditions I’ve learned to pack ‘lite’…. Generally this equates to 1 x ‘stuffed to the max’ 110 litre duffle bag complete with equipment duct-taped to the shoulder straps and bottles training from the frame… I look more like bulky yak trying to navigate Heathrow Airport check in lines than a fashion-conscious traveller trying to schmooze my way into business class. There are times when fashion comes second to function – and packing for Makalu (or any big mountain for that matter!) is a prime example of one of those cases.
Packing for Makalu presents an interesting predicament – I finished packing last night. In a state of panic at the sight of the mountain of bags in my front room, I spent my morning writing to JET Airways grovelling for (a) an upgrade AND / OR (b) a *tiny bit* of excess baggage allowance above and beyond the permitted 30kgs.  I have about 45 kilos… essentials.
When I look at the ‘snapshot’ of kit below, I can’t help but admire (yet again!) early mountaineering pioneers such as George Leigh-Mallory and stand in awe of their achievements wearing wool socks, gaberdine jackets and leather boots..!! Climbing isn’t just about going up and down a mountain. It’s the culmination of years of planning, testing new equipment, getting to know your equipment, and the 'i' word... investment....


  1. Dare I suggest putting your heaviest stuff in your carry-on baggage (all of which surely is on the list of "must not be in the hold"). You could also try wearing your down suit and plastic boots on the aircraft... strange as it sounds it provides ample padding when fighting over the armrest with whoever is unlucky enough to be seated next to you (or get your own back if they happen to be a large passenger). It could also get a request from your adjacent passengers to have you moved to an empty row - then you can stretch out and sleep.... especially if you can develop a sudden hacking cough which of course could be highly contagious ;-)