Author Archives: Mike Austin

Gear of Desire. A 1980’s retrospective

Back in the 80’s the northern English town where I grew up had an ethnic clothing store.  It was packed with tie dye scarfs, Che Guevara T-shirts and continuously pumped the smell of patchouli oil out of its front door. It was located adjacent to a second hand record shop (bear with me younger readers…I appreciate that these are some alien concepts) where I would browse through the back catalogues of Led Zeppelin, Boston and Dio….does anybody remember Dio?  Really you shouldn’t – they were Continue reading →

Kenton & Me

The global mountaineering superstar Kenton Cool recently released his autobiography detailing his climbing exploits. On the dust sleeve of the book Sir Ranulph Fiennes is quoted as saying something along the lines of Kenton being the greatest mountain chap that ever was, and anyone saying different is a damned fool. Exciting stuff then. I’m waiting for the audio book version. Maybe Brian Blessed will narrate it… The climbing press’s adoration for Kenton has always struck me as somewhat odd. Not because his achievements aren’t worthy; Continue reading →

Lost in Translation – Big lines in the Chamonix valley

Have you ever seen the movie Lost in Translation? It’s a film about disconnection and a longing for something you can never have. In it Bill Murray says to Scarlet Johansson. “It gets easier as you get older, and you know who you are and where you want to be. The pain doesn’t affect you as much”. I bring it up, as this was a bit how I was feeling as April slipped away. The feeling of disconnect is a common malaise felt by those Continue reading →

Reflecting on Risk

As AvalancheGeeks looks to wrap up our avalanche courses for the season, and the persistent weak layers within the alpine appear to be entering a dormant stage (those deeply buried avalanche dragons now lurking in the basement will appear again later in the season, be sure of that), perhaps now is a good time for reflection on what we’ve delivered on our courses and its value, after all, without reflection, there can be no improvement. Reflection indeed, as this season the Alps have gone through Continue reading →

Crazy Like a Fox

This season started in a frenzy of work for the Geeks. Early December is the time when it’s traditionally quiet for mountain professionals, so it was an ideal time for us to deliver two intensive AAA Level 2 courses aimed as CPD for The Association of Mountain Instructors (AMI) followed by staff training for Glenmore Lodge, the Scottish National Centre for Outdoor Training. Initially Tignes, then the high Italian resort of Cervinia provided good snow and sunshine for the busy four-day program, where we used Continue reading →

How to prepare for your Level 1 Avalanche Course

Open this post and then click below to be directed to a link to Backcountry Magazine where they have a great article on how to choose a quality avalanche education provider and what preparation you should be doing  in order to get the very most from your course. http://backcountrymagazine.com/stories/mountain-skills-prepare-level-1-avalanche-course/

Price is secondary to safety. Gear is secondary to wisdom

At the top of our Kit Review page you’ll find the above words. Words to live your life by if you’re involved in the avalanche avoidance game. But as with many things, as time moves on then the game changes. Trying to change the avalanche game is a small American company with some very big ideas when it comes to avalanche safety. www.avatech.com are in the process of releasing their SP1 – a digital penetrometer that gives the user an instant snow profile beneath their Continue reading →