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  • High line helicopter rescue at sea
    bedecked with 3 cameras My manually inflated lifejacket finished off the required dress code The cutter looked quite large from the jetty but it soon became cramped as we all got aboard and motored off to meet the Sea King This was part of Coastguard volunteer training and two trainees were with us to take part in the Highline The first part of the preparations for any boat that is going to receive a crewman from a helicopter in flight is to make sure that the highline itself does not end up as a dangerous rat s nest of rope on the deck Our coxwain had brought a bucket to feed the line into The second most important aspect is to have your boat travelling into the wind if possible If the target for the Sea King is a yacht then the sails should be down motor on and the boom lashed Follow the pilots instruction for a heading and speed and then leave the rest to them The Sea King we were working with took up station off the port quarter and started to move closer and lower The spray starts to fly at this point a Sea King has a downdraught of about 130 knots and anything not tied down like the sea starts to move around As this is happening the winch operator on the Sea King is lower the highline This is a lightweight line with a bag of lead shot attached to the end The weight of the bag is decided by the amount of wind blowing either way it is best not to be clouted by the bag as it swings inboard Once the highline has been taken onboard the Sea King lowers their crewman and starts to move even closer to the target boat At this point the roar from engines and downdraught from the rotors makes conversation impossible The amount of spray being blown around also rises and it becomes like a shower cubicle in the back of the launch Seen from the Sea King as the crewman gets ready for contact As the winch cable is extended our coxwain started to use the highline to guide the crewman towards the rear of our boat The highline is attached to the crewman with a lighter piece line so that should the pilot have to do an emergency abort he can simply pull away knowing that the man on the winch wire will go with him Almost before you realise we are joined by the Sea Kings crewman as he steps on the top of the engine cover the boat is now feeling very crowded The winch hook was unclipped with some haste and the Sea King banked steeply away and headed for open water and then turned and moved to execute a landing on Battery Park This was not quite what we had planned The plan had been to reverse the highline and for the Sea King to recover it s crewman

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/highline.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Iditarod dog sled race
    let himself get dragged by his neckline whilst the other dogs ran on This clearly could not continue and I really did not have the time or inclination to tolerate his behaviour He too was subsequently dropped I saw very little of the checkpoint at Finger Lake being busy with the dogs the whole time I put sweat wraps on Yetta and Shelly and spent plenty of time here servicing the dogs feet with protective cream Teams were still arriving as I prepared to leave Although I would have preferred to travel down the infamous Happy River to Rainy Pass in daylight this did not suit my schedule and so it was in complete darkness that we travelled the rollercoaster ride through the steep hills as if on a black run in a ski resort travelling hell for leather pulled by sixteen eager huskies At one point the sled took a serious flip into deep snow on a severe downhill turn and I sank the snow hook two inches into a tree trunk This required a 45 minute surgical operation with an axe to remove the hook and free the team After descending the final four infamous steps of Happy River I stopped on the flat to give the dogs a fish each Several of them would not eat however and so we continued after only a five minute break The Team at rest At Rainy Pass checkpoint the teams were starting to spread out Parking spaces were much more plentiful which made resting up easier I managed to find an area of floor in the checker s log cabin It was 4 30am After ninety minutes sleep and a good rest for the dogs out journey over the Alaska Mountain Range and down Dazzle Gorge was to be a daylight if windy run The initial stage out of Rainy Pass was every bit as I remembered it in 93 steep and open but this time with a fierce wind blowing I was very glad I had a well designed hood with its fur ruff The Dazzle Gorge was a daunting prospect of which I had high expectations These were to be fulfilled as soon as we started to descend I soon managed to tangle up the whole team on a narrow part of the river bank with a cliff facing and the river flowing It was my own fault I had not been sufficiently aware of what lay ahead Pistol in lead did not want to go over the fast flowing water and braked at the alternative of the cliff resulting in this almighty pile up The disentangling procedure resulted in Shelly s getting a dunking and we all ran like hell to get her warm and dried out Towards the bottom of the gorge the glare ice took over as a major problem and we were obliged to slide our way forward to get across sometimes on all fours We arrived at Rohn at about noon which was where I opted to take the mandatory 24 hour stop I had lost various precious items in the gorge as we bounced down the treacherous twists and turns Most important of these was the snow machine track brake which had been ripped off by rocks The time in Rohn however was memorable Mary Lou Vanderbilt Whitney the New York heiress and socialite turned up in a chartered 4 seater aircraft in pursuit of Larry Williams the musher she was sponsoring and we chatted for some time I cooked for the dogs removed their harnesses put them all on drop chains lay down some straw for their beds and tied them to separate trees to try and get them some proper rest I changed the plastic runners on the sled and made repairs to the track brake I got a mushergram here from Lena On leaving Rohn you travel down the glare ice of the Kuskoquim River for a while then over a glacier with many bare rocks and then into a windblown area they call the Buffalo Tunnel before hitting The Farewell Burn thousands of square miles of desolate terrain ravaged by forest fire After making it down the glacier the sled was wrecked with the right hand stanchion completely snapped As it was turning dark I elected to rest and use the remaining daylight to carry out repairs I cut down a tree selected a straight branch shaped and notched it out with my knife and tied it all back up a repair which was to last until the Bering Sea at Unalakleet some 620 miles further on During this operation in the half light the dogs all pricked up their ears I looked up Five buffalo were observing us about thirty feet away We escaped conflict however and continued on our way I managed to miss the shelter cabin on the 90 mile stretch over The Burn and camped beside the trail in the early hours made a fire fed both the dogs and myself rested for thirty minutes and then continued towards Nikolai where we arrived at 5 00am Nikolai is an Inuit Indian village of 120 inhabitants It also has a satellite telephone which enabled me to ring Lena By now I had lost my no 1 knife my no 1 headlamp my Swiss Army knife my prescription sunglasses We were down to spares The splits in my fingers were getting nasty The serious cold conditions however were yet to come Packing for the trip The next checkpoint McGrath was a morale boost even though I stayed for only four hours Lena and several friends had flown out to the town in small planes to see us pass through I left at 9 00pm and reached Takotna four hours later This was a super checkpoint where the villagers had an oil drum of hot water going for the mushers use a nice change from boiling snow I accepted the considerable hospitality of the forty strong population

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/iditarod.html (2016-02-10)
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  • 3 season boots
    you re yomping over rough terrain and you won t notice any stones underfoot Similarly torsional stability in 3 season boots is more desirable because it means you can scramble happily without tiring your feet and you re less likely to feel a long day if you re backpacking How can you judge torsional stiffness Just grab the boot at both ends and twist in opposite directions If you go

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/3seasonboots.html (2016-02-10)
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  • 4 season boots and crampon compatability
    off a ledge when traversing a snow slope The uppers of the boot need to be pretty stiff to withstand winter use too So ideally they are made from leather that is around 3mm thick A stiff upper provides better support and protection to the foot which you ll need if you re going to start kicking lumps of ice off a snow slope to get a firm grip underfoot A thick upper will also keep your feet dry for longer as it will impede the flow of wet snow and water Most important of all perhaps is a good sole If you want to stay upright on snow and all that thick mud that collects in the valleys during winter you ll need a boot with a deep tread Many modern soles are also designed with anti clog sole patterns so they shed snow and mud more easily Fit and comfort are important so always try a number of boots to get the best fit Just because someone recommends a boot it doesn t mean that it will fit your shape of foot CRAMPON COMPATIBILITY One of the biggest debates that arises when you mention four season boots is their suitability for crampons A crampon will stay on a boot better if the boot is totally stiff but for more comfort when walking many crampons will also fit slightly more flexible boots without any problems A number of manufacturers are now starting to grade their boots and crampons so that a level of compatibility can be achieved The system used is outlined below and it follows that boots in the B3 category are ideal for C3 crampons but will also take C2 and C1 crampons while a B1 boot can only be recommended for use with a C1 crampon

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/4seasonboots.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Altimeters
    than announce the height They can also give you ascent descent rates the total ascent or descent over a given period barometric pressure and usually barometric trend useful for weather forecasting One model even measures windspeed Other features can include thermometer compass pedometer and more Oh and they tell the time H ow useful these features are depends on how much data you like to collect and what sort of trips you do On walks of more than a day I find the barometric trend information valuable as I can make decisions as to the next dayâs route based on what I think the weather might do On occasion I ve set off on a high level walk in a storm because the pressure had risen rapidly overnight and then had the expected good weather later in the day Seeing a rapid rise in the pressure after days of wet weather is always encouraging Similarly a fast plunge in pressure has seen me choose a sheltered route despite the clear skies early on a decision usually justified when the weather deteriorates later A ir pressure is what altimeters measure and translate into height above sea level So when the air pressure changes an altimeter will show a change in height despite not having been moved A rise in pressure is recorded as a fall in altitude and vice versa So if your camp appears to be higher in the morning than it was the night before the pressure has dropped To compensate an altimeter should be reset every time you know the exact height you re at otherwise it can become very inaccurate As an example I set an altimeter to the height of my house then recorded the apparent changes in altitude over the next 24 hours This showed

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/altimeters.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Bum bags and waist packs
    and mountain bikers but they have plenty to offer walkers and backpackers I often wear one round my front when carrying a heavy load to give me quick on the move access to sundries such as map compass mini binoculars camera film sunscreen and energy bars A bumbag can carry gear on strolls away from camp while larger ones can be used for shorter lower level walks when you don t want or need to carry a pack but do want to have a few bits of gear with you STYLES T wo types of bumbag are available Traditional models are long fairly narrow and curves round the body This is the style best suited for use with a big pack as it is comfortable worn over the belly The more recent trend is for lumbar packs ö tall rather than long designs which gain their name from the fact that they fit into the lower back They re more stable than traditional models which makes them good for running and cycling and they carry more weight more comfortably than traditional designs But they re not comfortable when worn round the front Some bumbags come with water bottle holders or

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/bumbags.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Crampons
    that the more flexible boots are a limitation for fitting crampons is simply down to the fact that no one has yet been able to devise a scheme for putting points onto your soles without having to strap them to the boots or employ the step in binding which only works with rigid or near rigid boots Who knows what advances in footwear design might bring Strap on crampons should be adjusted so they fit snugly to the boot You ought to be able to pick up the boot with crampon on the sole without it falling off even without the straps done up They generally come supplied with nylon webbing straps as standard though some may find fiddling about with them rather trying once they ve frozen stiff Neoprene straps on the other hand are unable to take up water so they won t freeze With step in crampons apart from adjusting the length you also need to adjust the height of the heel clip to take account of the thickness of the heel on your boot The strap provided with these is really just a keeper strap making sure the heel clip can t be pulled back and if the crampon did somehow twist off it would at least still have something to stop it clattering down the mountain This kind needs a near rigid boot with a pronounced welt or sole unit designed to accept step in bindings One positive development in recent years has been the means of adjusting the things to fit your boots without having to fiddle with nuts and bolts Of course in the normal way you d expect to have your own crampons already adjusted to fit your boots all done from the warmth of home But there can be the odd

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/crampons.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Day sacks and small rucksacks
    move with you rather than against you You ll get a sweatier back than with a sack that is held away from you but I d rather have comfort and stability Hipbelts or waist straps stop the pack bouncing when moving fast and increase the stability without the need for excessive strap tightening The variety of back systems means it s important to try on rucksacks loaded to check they are comfortable if you feel pressure points or rubbing try another model You re going out for the day you don t need to carry much so it doesn t matter if your packed lunch ends up in a carrier bag right Wrong That might be the extent of your kit requirements for a half hour stroll from the car park but there s a bit more to it than that if you want to enjoy a full day out in wild country You need something with space enough not just for sarnies and a bottle or flask of drink but your waterproofs a spare jumper hat and gloves as well as a survival bag if you re heading into wild country That takes up a bit more space than a carrier bag so your ideal daysack will probably be in the 20 to 30 litre range 35 max Back Smaller daysacks will have a soft back in other words no frame or stiffening As you get up to the 30 litre end you ll see sacks either with alloy staves or rigid plastic inserts to keep the back stiff The bit that makes contact with your back wants enough padding to give you a comfortable fit and protect you from any hard lumps you might have packed in the sack Better quality sacks will have back panels allowing a

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/daysacks.html (2016-02-10)
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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-27