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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    epoch, seal, penguin, antarctica, spindrift, kayak, geoff murray

    BGLE 80th Anniversary Sea Kayak Expedition Antarctica 2017. By Geoff Murray

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    Expeditions & Adventures

    Our expedition was called the BGLE 80th Anniversary Sea Kayak Expedition Antarctica 2017. BGLE stands for British Graham Land Expedition. This expedition took place in 1934-37 and was led by Australian John Rymill. The expedition performed valuable scientific and exploratory work in this relatively unknown region with the northern base being on Argentine Island which was our expedition’s final destination.

    Rymill was also the surrogate leader of a previous expedition in East Greenland in 1932 whose aim was to investigate the possibility of establishing a transcontinental air route between England and Canada. They were sponsored for this expedition by PanAm airlines. 
    The Greenland expedition was based in Tugtilik (also known as Lake Fjord) which is 100kms north of the nearest tiny settlement of Sermiligaq pop. 230. Sermiligaq is in itself a very remote location and Tugtilik is extremely remote. Rymill had to take control of the expedition after its leader, Gino Watkins, died in a hunting accident very shortly after reaching Tugtilik.

    Camp at Wordie House, Winter Island, Antarctica, 2017 by Geoff Murray

    I paddled to Tugtilik with a small group in 2016 and we became only the 4th kayaking expedition to reach this location in the last 84 years. Hence, there was a tangible link between my East Greenland expedition and this latest Antarctic expedition.

    Humpback Whale, Antarctica 2017, by Geoff Murray

     

    "... a stunning yet at the same time, deadly coastline. Landing places are few and far between with huge, unstable ice cliffs or vertical rock faces between."

    The distance between the start point, Enterprise Island, and Argentine Island was 300km and this involved paddling a stunning yet at the same time, deadly coastline. Landing places are few and far between with huge, unstable ice cliffs or vertical rock faces between. Icebergs are an ever present threat as they can capsize without warning and glacier faces can be equally unstable, calving spontaneously. Likewise the weather was a serious consideration, with the possibility of violent katabatic winds always in the background (as we found out one day!)

    But the rewards were immense, as we sighted whales, seals and penguins in one of Earth’s most spectacular locations as we paddled the Antarctic coastline.

    Fur Seal, Antarctica 2017, by Geoff Murray

    I took a new Mont Epoch tent with me, slept in a Mont Spindrift sleeping bag and kept warm during the day wearing Mont Polartec Power Stretch Pro fleece under my Icicle jacket. This stuff works and I was not once cold.

    A wonderful trip to an awesome location!

    Geoff Murray
    Mont Ambassador, wilderness and landscape photographer, explorer

    Goeff Murray, Antarctica 2017

    Emma Island Camp, Antarctica 2017, by Geoff Murray

    Winter Island Camp, Antarctica 2017, by Geoff Murray

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  • News & Events

    Posted by Will

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    TAGS

    information night, fundraiser, community, Reach For Nepal, mont shop, fyshwick, nepal, canberra

    Nepal Community Rebuild Trip & Information Night

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    News & Events

    Nepal has some of the most stunning, remote mountain ranges in the world; however, these rugged and isolated areas were some of the hardest hit in the 2015 earthquake. Join us on the 11th of May to hear about how Mont and the Reach for Nepal Foundation (RFN) are offering you a chance to get off the beaten track and experience the genuine culture of Nepal while making an actual difference in a remote village.
     
    On the night you will learn how Reach for Nepal is making meaningful change to the lives of rural Nepalese affected by the earthquake, and the unique cultural and trekking experiences offered on this amazing trip. There will also be some tasty treats from the Hungry Buddha Himalayan restaurant!

    The night will be presented by Lachhu Thapa and Lou Nulley, co founders and directors of the Reach for Nepal Foundation. Lachhu is based in Canberra running both the Reach for Nepal Foundation and the Hungry Buddha restaurants but is originally from Pokhara in Nepal. Lou is an experienced Himalayan trekker and brings an extensive project management skillset to the operation.

    Two local Canberra organisations partner to present the trip of a lifetime. Change peoples lives on this genuine 'off the beaten track' adventure: 3 days physical work rebuilding a remote village school, genuine cultural experiences & guided trekking through some of the World's great ranges.

    INFORMATION NIGHT
    When: 5.30pm Thursday 11th of May
    Where: The Mont Shop, 18 Pirie St Fyshwick ACT 2609
    RSVP: On the Mont Facebook or by email to shop@mont.com.au.

    Change peoples lives on this genuine 'off the beaten track' adventure: 3 days physical work rebuilding a remote village school, genuine cultural experiences & guided trekking through some of the World's great ranges.

    THE NEPAL COMMUNITY REBUILD TRIP
    When: Departs Kathmandu Oct 30, 2017
    Cost: AUD $2,690/person, twin share
    Group: Minimum 6, Maximum 12
    Fundraising for RFN by participants is encouraged.
    Autumn (September to November) in the Pokhara region offers the best weather and visibility for trekking.

    HIGHLIGHTS
    • Three day Community Rebuild Project in a remote village
    • Unique insights into Nepal village life, working alongside the community
    • 5 day trek with stunning views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges
    • Sightseeing in Kathmandu including Pashupatinath and Boudhanath
    • Pokhara Peace Stupa Walk
    • Mountain flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu

    THE PROJECT
    You will be involved in building classrooms at the Shree Sadin Adharbhut School of Lachowk, Kaski where children must take it in turns to use the existing classrooms. These classrooms also double as an office and a library. The next closest school is 2 hours away.

    THE REACH FOR NEPAL FOUNDATION
    The Reach for Nepal Foundation was established after the devastating earthquakes of Nepal in April 2015.
    RFN is a not-for-profit organisation working to provide practical and financial assistance to rural Nepalese communities affected by the devastating 2015 earthquake.

    Mont is proud to be partnering with the Reach for Nepal foundation, their unique cultural connection and knowledge of Nepal allows their aid to help remote and isolated communities often overlooked by other aid programs. Find more information about the projects at www.reachfornepal.org.

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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    TAGS

    holidays!, staff, ambassador, adventure, expedition, snow camping

    2016 Adventures at Mont

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    Expeditions & Adventures

    2016 was an exciting year for Mont staff and ambassadors. Adventures ranged from weekend jaunts to month long expeditions, from local climbing crags and ski fields to the ends of the earth (well, the North and South poles at least). Mont has a long history of supporting a love of the outdoors, and in it’s 35th year, Mont’s staff and ambassadors continued to chase adventure…

     

    Kate Leeming

    Making your commute to work look easy is Dr Kate Leeming. Off the back of her first Breaking the Cycle Expediton – a 10 month, 22,040km journey through Africa, her Great Australian Cycle Expedition (25,000km), and her 13,400km Trans-Siberian Cycle Expedition, Kate took on Greenland in 2016. In preparation for an expedition to the South Pole in 2017, Kate used her time in Greenland for extensive testing of her gear and systems.

    Kate Leeming on her All Wheel Drive bicycle. © Phil Coates Kate Leeming testing her All Wheel Drive Bicycle in Svalbard, Greenland. ©Phil Coates

    Expecting temperatures between -5 and -20C, warm spring conditions proved challenging for Kate and her team with eight days of blizzard conditions delaying the expedition’s start. Warmer temperatures meant soft snow and slush – a modified route was selected to make best use of time, and Kate spent seven demanding days on the bike. With variable weather conditions, Kate often rode into howling headwinds, at times having to push her bike through soft, unconsolidated snow that even her all wheel drive bike couldn’t conquer. The fourth day of the expedition brought better conditions, “the sun shone, the wind died down and I was treated to sweeping vistas as I pedalled for 50km…”.

     

    “the sun shone, the wind died down and I was treated to sweeping vistas as I pedalled for 50km…”.

    Kate finished off at Uunarteq (Kap Tobin), an abandoned settlement on the East coast of Greenland. Kate reports that she is feeling confident for her upcoming Antarctic expedition, with a good idea of how she will fine tune her bike, clothing, and physical fitness to ensure she has the best chance of success.

     

    Lis Andres

    Lis Andres
    A young crusher from Canberra, and Mont Junior Ambassador, Lis Andres embodies the spirit of climbing. Always keen and pushing herself to the limit, Lis was the 2016 Youth D Boulder Champion, maintaining this position from 2015. Lis competed in many competitions in 2016, taking first place in her category at a Tour de Corde, Queensland, ACT, NSW, Victoria, and Tasmania State Boulder Championships, and to top it off, the Australian Bouldering Championships. Lis also pulled out podium finishes at Lead Climbing nationals, and Sydney Bouldering Series, and was invited to compete in the Youth A’s Boulder division at a state level. When she’s not climbing, you’ll find Lis canyoning, mountain biking, or training…for climbing!

     

    “taking first place in her category at a Tour de Corde, Queensland, ACT, NSW, Victoria, and Tasmania State Boulder Championships, and to top it off, the Australian Bouldering Championships.”.

    Lis is looking forward to another successful year in 2017, having already topped the podium in the Youth C’s division. Mont is proud to sponsor Lis, and wishes her good luck for her competitions in 2017. Keep crushing!

     

    Mont Adventure Racing Team

    In July 2016, Mont joined forces with a local Canberra adventure racing team, to bring to life Mont Adventure Racing. Making up the team is Lee Rice, Dane Roberts, Paul Cuthbert, Thorlene Egerton, Aaron Coles and Tom Brazier – all active outdoors enthusiasts and experienced adventure racers. The 2016 Adventure Racing World Championship was held in the Shoalhaven area of NSW, and the team trained hard throughout the year to prove themselves on home turf. Mont Adventure Racing entered four pairs at the 2016 World Rogaining Championships, held at Ross River, NT – Paul’s pair came in at 6th overall, Lee’s pair at 56th, Thorlene’s pair at 67th, and Dane and Aaron at 82nd.

    The Mont Adventure Racing Team during the X-Trail Expedition Race in China

    Internationally, Lee and Thorlene represented Mont Adventure Racing at the XTrail Expedition China, the first Adventure Racing World Series event to be held in Asia. Racing with former members of the team, Lee and Thorlene brought home 17th position, doing well to keep up with highly competitive international teams.

     

    Geoff Murray

    A seasoned bushwalker and professional photographer, Geoff Murray captures stunning images from every one of his adventures.

    The Mont Epoch tent in the remotes of Greenland. Earlier this year Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray and a team of kayakers made their way to Lake Fjord, a remote and spectacular area of Greenland visited only 4 times by kayak in the last 84 years.

    Geoff and a team of kayakers made their way to Lake Fjord, a remote and spectacular area of Greenland visited only 4 times by kayak in the last 84 years. Their destination was the 1932 basecamp of explorer Gino Watkins. Watkins was surveying the possibility of landing Trans Atlantic flights in East Greenland. He died at this location whilst seal hunting from his kayak.

     

    Eric Philips (North and South Pole)

    Eric Phillips is a polar explorer, and has been a polar guide since 1993. In April 2016, Eric took the lead for the 13th North Pole season for his company Icetrek. Eric teamed up with another Mont ambassador, Jade Hameister and Jade’s father, Paul Hameister. Like all good expeditions, this one started with a delay – cracks in the ice runway of Barneo Camp caused a 10 day long hold before Eric, Jade and Paul could get onto the ice and organise airdrops at their resupply points. Arriving at Barneo Camp at three in the morning, April 14, the polar trio helicoptered to their starting location, 150km from the North Pole, and managed 10km after no sleep before setting up camp. Steady progress came over the next few days, with reasonable, if cold, conditions. 25th April, the final day of the expedition – conditions continued to allow (relatively) smooth progress for the team with only a large pool and some heavy cracking of the ice slowing them down. 90 degrees North came as 4PM ticked over, and the team celebrated as a joy flight passed low overhead.

    Eric Philips and co on their way to the South Pole

    Reminiscent of his first Transantarctic glacier traverse in 1998, Eric switched hemispheres for the second half of 2016 to take on the South Pole via the Reedy Glacier. The Reedy Glacier has a steady 1600m altitude loss over its 200km length, which provides a generally crevasse free surface in the lower sections. Large sections of exposed ice make travel easier than on most glaciers, but these factors don’t reduce the Reedy Glacier traverse to a walk in the park! 6th December, Eric’s team flew to Union Glacier Camp, where they were delayed a day due to poor visibility before they were dropped at their starting point on the Ross Ice Shelf. Moving steadily on the icy surface, Eric’s team were surrounded by unclimbed peaks as they crossed onto the Reedy Glacier on the 12th of December. Winds were high most mornings, petering out around lunchtime as the sun heated up and the pressure differential between the glacier and the shelf below mediated.

     

    "Eric’s team were surrounded by unclimbed peaks as they crossed onto the Reedy Glacier"

    Less than a week in and localised high winds slowed the team down, making tent pitching difficult and travel towards the South a serious challenge, forcing an early rest day. 19th December, “Crux Day” went without too much resistance for the Philips team. Following on and off wind, the wind returned and the team dealt with heavy crevassing, at one point with all three members on the one 60m long snow bridge. Having pioneered the traverse of the Reedy Glacier, the team pushed on to the pole, with 386km to go. A blizzard that came and went battered the team leading up to Christmas Day, which then gave way to blue skies and high spirits at the halfway mark. As the New Year came round, Eric battled with altitude sickness and low moral – their team reaching nearly 3000m elevation. Reaching the pole just 10 days into the New Year, Eric’s team were triumphant in forging a new route across challenging terrain.

     

    Jade Hameister

    Inspired by the likes of Lydia Bradley and other pioneering female adventurers, Jade Hameister is a 15 year old from Melbourne looking to complete the “Polar Hat Trick”. Jade’s Polar Quest “started” in April 2016 when she joined Eric Philips for a North Pole Expedition. The real start though was months of training leading up to the first expedition – weightlifting, cardio, and a lot of dragging tires around on the beach. Jade is extremely driven in pursuing her goals, and proved her commitment and dedication on her North Pole Expedition. Kitted out in a bright pink Mont expedition suit, Jade skied to the pole with Eric and her father, followed by a cinematographer as they battled windy and weathered ice.

     

    "This expedition made Jade the youngest person to ski to the North Pole from outside the last degree of latitude, being just 14 years old at the time."

    Jade pulling her sled through rugged terrain on the way to the North Pole

    Jade has delivered an inspiring TED Talk, and her Polar Quest has developed an extensive media following around Australia. We are continually inspired by Jade, and wish her the best of luck for her 2017 expeditions to round out the Hat Trick. In April 2017 she will be heading to Greenland, hoping to be the youngest woman to traverse coast to coast, and then an 1170km push to the South Pole in December 2017. Mont is proud to be supporting young adventurers and wishes Jade all the best with her goals for 2017.

     

    Etienne Blumstein

    Etienne during one of his epic training runs
    In 2016, Mont sponsored local Canberra runner and former elite cyclist, Etienne Blumstein-Jones. Etienne was showing strong form at the start of the year, pulling out top ten finishes in his first four races – 2nd at the Buffalo Stampede, 2nd in the Mt Buller Skyrun, 3rd in the Vertical Kilometre Buffalo Stampede, and 9th in the Roller Coaster Run held at Mt Dandenong. This consistent high performance proved the value of Etienne focussing on his running technique and working to build on his strengths. Backing up this performance early in the year, Etienne continued to show his strength, with 4th place in the Sydney Tower Stair Challenge, and 8th in the Bush Capital Half Marathon.

     

    "Mt Buller Skyrun – placing second overall with back to back wins on consecutive days for stage 2 and 3"

    Of particular note is Etienne’s performance at the Mt Buller Skyrun – placing second overall with back to back wins on consecutive days for stage 2 and 3, 3rd place for stage 4 and 8th place in the first stage. Etienne continues to perform at a high level and in 2017 is building up to a good performance at the Australian Mountain Running Nationals in April. Etienne is also looking forward to taking his racing overseas, set to represent Mont at the Matterhon Ultraks held in Zermatt, and the Mt Difficulty Race (aptly named) in Cromwell, New Zealand.

     

    Gail’s Bushwalk

    Gail's walking partner navigating a wet trail/torrent
    Only 6 weeks after starting at the Mont Shop, staff member Gail was cheeky enough to sneak off for 8 weeks of leave, with plans to walk the 650km Australian Alps Walking Track. The track starts from Baw Baw National Park in Victoria and takes a meandering route through the Victorian high country, into Kosciuszko National Park, eventually finishing in Canberra. The weather had other ideas with repeated snowfalls, walking tracks becoming surprisingly large creeks, and creeks becoming flooded rivers. With peak snow depth hitting the mountains just as Gail was attempting her walk, well after ski season, re-evaluation of her plan was needed. Snow shoes were donned, extra thermal layers were procured and end-to-end plans became a series of week long missions through the high country.

     

    "After 31 days out bush, 3kg of salami and nearly 50 cup-a-soups later, Gail walked back into Canberra"

    After 31 days out bush, 3kg of salami and nearly 50 cup-a-soups later, Gail walked back into Canberra and straight into the madness of the November Factory Sale. She is now in love with Mont’s Odyssey and Moondog Jackets, and has spent the summer quietly regrowing her toenails and fantasising about the next bushwalking adventure.

     

    Mont Staff in the Snowies

    While Gail planned around the somewhat unexpected snow conditions, other Mont staff members revelled in what made for perfect spring skiing conditions. Sarah and Nick completed an AST 1 Avalanche Skills Training Course, and managed to sneak in many backcountry jaunts between work. Multiple summits of a snow covered Mt Kosciuszko were made, many sunrises watched from snow caves and bivy bags, and a whole lot of lines cut through untracked slopes.

    A prototype of the new Epoch Tent on the Main Range, by Mont staff member Michelle Welch

    Jennie Milton, a professional snow kiting guide in both Australia and Canada made time to catch up with Andrew and Michael, and Sarah and Nick for 2 days out to North Ramshead, and Leann, Michelle, Sarah and Nick spent a weekend out skiing on the Ramshead Range, testing out prototypes for Mont gear coming in 2017.

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  • Product spotlight

    Posted by Will

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    TAGS

    4 season, spindrift, kiandra, alpine, sleeping bag, Hydronaute XT

    Sleeping Bag Comparison: Kiandra Tapered Rectangular vs Spindrift Mummy Boxfoot

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    Product spotlight

    The Mont Kiandra and Spindrift are two sleeping bags regularly considered for 4 season and alpine camping trips. Both sleeping bags are rated from -9ºC to -15ºC, both sleeping bags are made from highly water-resistant and extremely breathable Hydronaute XT fabric, both are filled with super-high loft down (between 785 & 850), and they're within 100grams of each other in weight.

    So how do I choose which is right for me? Read on...

    Kiandra and Spindrift Sleeping Bags side by side
     
     
    The Kiandra Sleeping Bag
    The Kiandra is part of the Tapered Rectangular Series which are often praised for their versatility across a wide range of temperatures.

    The Tapered Rectangular series sleeping bags have full length side and foot zips allowing you to open them out flat in warmer conditions, and close them up in colder conditions.

    The Kiandra Sleeping Bag has full length side and foot zips so you can open it out flat in warmer conditions

    In addition the Tapered Rectangular sleeping bags have continuous baffles (down chambers) from top to base. You can see the direction of the baffles in the seams across the sleeping bag, they start at the zip, run across the top, around the side to the base and finish on the other side of the zip. Continuous baffles allow you to distribute down according to the temperature; in warmer conditions move down from the top to the base, and in colder conditions move more down to the top.
     
     
     
    The Spindrift Sleeping Bag
    The Spindrift is part of the Specialist Boxfoot Series which are specifically designed for alpine and winter conditions. The Spindrift, and all Specialist Boxfoot, are less versatile than the Kiandra, but for that lack of versatility comes a significant increase in efficiency.

    You will notice right away the narrow and very tapered shape, this is called Mummy shape. A Mummy shaped sleeping bag is the most efficient because it minimises unused space that your body must warm up.
     
    Spindrift Boxfoot with no zip is much more efficient and warmer
     
    You will also notice that they do not have a foot zip, rather they have a 'boxfoot'. A boxfoot provides significantly more efficient warmth because of 1) the lack of a zipper and 2) the down chambers underneath the soles of your feet when you're lying on your back. The boxfoot prevents the sleeping bag opening out flat, but makes huge improvements in warmth efficiency.
     
    Spindrift sleeping bag with vertical baffles prevents down shift to reduce cold spots
     
    Another significant feature of the Spindrift is the vertical baffles around the torso. Rather than continuous baffles as seen on the Kiandra, the Spindrift's vertical baffles prevent down movement and maintain even down coverage around the entire torso. These vertical baffles are significantly warmer and more efficient in trapping warmth. You can see these baffles by the vertical seams on the chest (and base) of the Spindrift.

    In Short
    If you find it very hard to stay warm in sub zero conditions or if you're buying a sleeping bag purely for temperatures of -9ºC to -15ºC then the Spindrift will be your best option.

    If you're buying a sleeping bag for occasional adventures in –9ºC to -15ºC but predominantly temperatures up to 0ºC or just above then the Kiandra will be a much better match.

    At Mont we always suggest taking a sleeping bag that is rated to at least 5ºC below the forecasted weather, as it is much safer and easier to cool down if you're too hot, than to warm up if you're too cold.

    See the Kiandra Sleeping Bag

    See the Spindrift Sleeping Bag

    If you need anymore assistance with your selection of a sleeping bag or any other equipment please do not hesitate to contact Mont today.

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