Stok Kangri Training Weekend

17th Jun 2015

We run training events for all our long haul expeditions and last weekend it was time to welcome our Trek and Mountain Stok Kangri team to our training base at the Hollowford Centre in our home village of Castleton.  The training events provide a great opportunity to pass on imporatnat information to team members and last weekend's event was made particularly special because we were also able to welcome representative’s from Trek and Mountain magazine, Rab and Lowe Alpine to attend the event. 
The Hollowford Centre is a beautiful venue positioned right in the heart of the Peak District National Park.  It sits in the lea of famous local landmark Mam Tor and we use a traditional stone barn for our events there. The team congregated on Saturday morning having travelled from various parts of the country and, after tea and biscuits, they were welcomed with an introduction to the weekend programme followed by a presentation from Rab and Lowe Alpine marketing expert Emma.  I have enjoyed working alongside Rab for some time and, having tested their garments in some especially challenging conditions, I know that having such a prestigious and well respected brand on board will make a huge difference to the team.
Emma shared some history on the Rab and Lowe Alpine brands as well as telling us about the Polartec fabric technologies used in many of their products.  Emma has a clear passion for the brands she represents and her enthusiasm shone through in her presentation.  She went on to share the exciting details of the brilliant equipment package the companies are providing for expedition team members.  All bases are being covered with everything from gloves to down layers and hats to hardshells on offer (we recently outlined full details of the package on our latest news page here).  
Many of the garments utilise Polartec fabrics including, among others, NeoShell, PowerShield, PowerStretch and Alpha insulation.  Polartec had also kindly provided various fabric swatches and technical literature and the team soon became very knowledgeable about the various fabrics.  A lot of science, research and development goes into modern materials and understanding how different fabrics work is the best way to ensue you get the best performance from them.   As we listened to Emma I learnt plenty of new information on this widely respected American brand including the unusual fact that they started their business by making carpets! I’m only pleased to confirm NeoShell and their other fabrics feels absolutely nothing like carpet!  I have actually been using Neo Shell intensively over the winter and have also used Polartec Alpha and I rate them both very highly.  NeoShell is comfortable in a wide range of conditions, breathes incredibly well and is durable enough for intensive use.  Using garments made in this fabric has actually totally changed the way I use hard shells.  Polartec Alpha has also completely changed the way I use Softshell clothing.  Full reviews of the Rab Neo Guide (which is made from NeoShell) and Rab Strata Hoodie (insulated with Polartec Alpha) are coming very soon.
Before the team were let loose to try some of the clothing on, Emma finished her session by sharing details of the Lowe Alpine rucksack and duffel bag that the team will be using.  Lowe Alpine is another well pespected brand with a great heritage and I learnt from Emma that they created the first internal frame rucksack - a design that has now become standard throughout the industry.   We have selected the Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 32 rucksack for use by the team as it’s another model I’ve used continually over the last winter.  It has proved to be very durable, extremely comfortable and with just the right features to be functional for a range of activities. I love this rucksack and it will be ideal for expedition requirements.
Finally, Emma distributed some jam packed goodie bags of fabric and leather care products kindly provided by Nikwax.  As well as producing high performance care products Nikwax are committed to minimising their environmental impact and when selecting care products I would certainly urge you to look into the manufacturers environmental stance.  Given the contents of the bags we should certainly have the cleanest and best smelling team on the mountain!
Following Emma’s presentation we watched a slideshow about the expedition itinerary and discussed the personal expedition kit list in some detail.  Having the chance to chat through the kit needed is an important part of the training for the team and the group were able to ask plenty of relevant questions (and hopefully get answers that sounded reasonable!).  We then enjoyed a pub lunch before, in a well timed lull in the rainy weather, we headed for an adventure on the local crags.  The training weekend is as much about team bonding as information sharing and with this in mind we simply went out for a fun abseil. It was a great few hours and, as several of the team had never abseiled before, we were delighted to achieve a 100% abseil success rate.
Most of the team were camping for the night and so we headed from the crag to the campsite.  This gave us the chance to trial the pitching and liveability of the expedition tents we’ll be using in India.  This year we are using new Vango tents which are a durable and stormproof design with great features for easy living.  The team were suitably impressed with their portable hotels!  In the evening we headed for a team meal.  It makes sense that, if you are going to head to India, choosing an Indian restaurant made good sense and so we headed to Sangam’s Indian restaurant in Hathersage.  The staff team at Sangams always offer a warm welcome and great food.  Some team members who were less familiar with Indian cuisine enjoyed the chance to experiment with new dishes.
On Sunday we convened for a morning of classroom sessions focussed on emergency procedures, expedition admin details and a presentation about altitude.  The team had plenty of questions and it was great to put them at ease about the upcoming adventure.  As we parted in the June sunshine there was a very positive feel to this group of like minded adventurers.  An exciting adventure ahead, amazing support from some prestigious brands and a brilliant team.  We really couldn’t ask for more.
We currently have 2 places left on the expedition so, if you want to be part of something big this year, please do get in touch and we’ll be delighted to welcome you on board.
Posted by Paul