Christmas Present Review

Christmas Present Review

Last year was highly successful for Christmas presents: I told everyone I just wanted money for a new pair of climbing shoes (see Choosing Footwear), chose my climbing shoes and then bought them.  Ea-sy.

This year, I decided that this had been too certain an outcome: where was the unpredictability and sense of achievement?  Where was the Risk?  How well would my family do?  


Bobblehat on man
Yes.  Should be straightforward: buy him a bobble hat.  But unwittingly, the non-climber strays into a subtly textured minefield of nuance, image and vanity.  This is in stark contrast to what we say we like about climbing: its really about showing off and dressing up.

So what did I receive?  One Bobblehat.  See picture.  It has a red band with the word 'ALPINE' on, a stylised picture of a mountain, with snow on it against a blue sky wth snowflakes.  Topped off with a bobble.


I LIKE it.  Its from Marks and Sparks, so no other climber will ever have one.  I like it says Alpine on, and I like the mountain, the snow and the bobble.  

Negatives: I spent too long trying to decide if it was a specific mountain or a generic one.  


A rich field for climbing related gifts.  Books appeal to climbers because it feels as if we are doing serious research into our hobby. We can pick up tips from the greats, refine our knowledge of places we haven't been to (and aren't planning on), and pick up a load of trivia so we can correct our mates.

But again! a potential minefield.  You're a boulderer and your missus gets something about Everest? Boom.  Epic sulk.

High risk gamble by the Missus...
Book with man

It pays off! 

Anything written in someone's authentic voice is a winner: witness the deserved success of Andy Cave's Learning to Breath, or Nick Bullock's Echoes, books which dealt with the author's jobs as much as climbing.

This book is shaping up nicely (three chapters in anyway).  In it Jamling Tenzing Norgay explores his ethnic identity as a sherpa, struggles with his relationship with his famous Dad, and quests for a mountain-based buddhist spirituality.  Good read so far, with genuine insights about Nepal and Sherpas, and much more sophisticated than the normal 'Of course the Sherpas are the real heroes, here I have included one of them's name'.

Negatives: it is about the '96 Everest disaster, already covered in 16 other books (this is noted by Jon Krakauer in the introduction).  Luckily, it is from an original and interesting viewpoint, and its better written than others.  Nonetheless - other mountain disasters are available.


I sort of guessed this one, as I flamboyantly lost my cherished watch earlier this year.
Tanya chose to replace it with an identical one.  

It is the Citizen Ecodrive, which believe it or not is solar powered (you can  just see the solar panel in the face in the right light).  It is also stylish as fuck, with its simple face and green canvass type strap.  I abused my last on and it was going strong after being immersed, sweated into, scratched with various masonry and rock types, concreted, and subject to magnetic storms, welding and swearing.  It didn't give a fuck, it just went on, tick-tock, tick-tock.  Like clockwork.

The strap I replaced a few times, but I always quite enjoyed sewing and riveting old army shirts - I felt like a tech-crusoe.  But sadly I let the last strap get too threadbare ... and one day it was gone.  The replacement does seem to have a beefier- but just as cool- strap, so here's hoping.

Verdict?  I LOVE it!

Negatives: it hasn't got loads of functions like telling you height above sea level, barometric air pressure etc etc.  Then again, I can't be a arsed with stuff like that anyway, so actually I think I'll put that down as a positive.

Stocking Fillers:

Hit! Luggage Scales: now to find out the weight of my pack in the hills, a new dawn for the gram anorak.

Hit! Marzipan fruits and various confectionary: that's the winter rations sorted.

Hit! a book about making things out of wood.