Hot & Cold

Montane Ambassador Rebecca Ferry is an accomplished ultra marathon runner, and enjoyed a contradictory couple of months between refreshing mountaineering skills in quintessential Scottish weather, and competing in the 6-stage ultra the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge:

I love a challenge, and what better way to start a new year than to embark upon two completely different ones. First up in January – a week of climbing and mountain skills in Scotland using Glen Coe in the Western Highlands as a base.  I’m told it is the best location in Scotland for reliable mountaineering snow and ice conditions yet all I saw for most of the week was rather heavy rain and gale force winds…  Great for testing the repellent qualities of my kit!

The first couple of days mainly consisted of refreshing personal skills and efficient movement on the snow and ice (or slush and puddles) , climbing knots, snow anchors and avalanche assessment with the following day seeing the group tackle  a general mountaineering day on grade II ground.  It was a good opportunity for us to see who would be better suited to working and climbing together over the following days.  It also proved a rather useful exercise in really seeing how effective the kit I had was as there was quite a lot of waiting around.  Fortunately, my Terra Mission Pants kept my lower limbs dry and my Fleet jacket managed to look after the upper half keeping me dry even though the rain was really driving down fast and hard.

The remaining days saw the start of some really wonderful and very different climbing routes like Aonach More, Number Two Gully Buttress and some great pitched routes.  We even managed to find some snow on some of the higher routes.  I ensured that I carried at least three pairs of gloves and a few spare layers to change into as I climbed.  All of my kit I transported in the Yupik 50 litre Rucksack which was surprisingly comfortable to climb with whilst allowing ample storage for all my equipment and ropes.  It did a tremendous job of keeping things dry in pretty abysmal conditions!

The week tested both myself and my kit thoroughly, However, there was one piece of clothing that proved invaluable and has become a staple in my bag – the Phoenix Lite Jacket.  Recently I used it fast packing in the Himalayas and was comfortable and warm enough to run in at 5000m.  It is impressively lightweight and therefore easy to pack into most bags for fast packing.  For instance, in the Himalayas, my bag was only 20 litres.  For the weight, it manages to pack impressive warmth.  The cut of the jacket allowed for freedom of movement when both running and climbing.  In Scotland, I wore it underneath my rain jacket and a few layers and the hood was secure enough to fit comfortably underneath my helmet and still allowed for unrestricted movement   Equally, it stayed in place even in 60 mph winds.

From the mountains of Scotland, I then went to compete in the jungles of Costa Rica in the Coastal Challenge.  This is a six day multi stage race set along the Costa Rican tropical Pacific Coastline.  It weaves into the Talamancas, which is a coastal mountain range in the south west of the country.  It finishes near the border of Panama in a UNESCO heritage site.  The weather and terrain could not be more different!  Kit choice needed to be lightweight, breathable, offer some UV protection and be able to withstand multiple river crossings, constant sweat and jungle!  I was incredibly happy with both the Claw shorts and T shirts.  They dried quickly post river hopping / swimming and consequently, made for chafe free running. I was incredibly happy to start my season with a win in the shorter adventure category which was 140 km and 4000m climb over the six days.

I can’t wait to start my next challenge!

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