My experiences with Osprey.......
Early days – testing the original Ceres Alpine pack in 2000:
I was fortunate to get the chance to test this iconic pack, which was one of the first Osprey models to come into the UK back in 2000. The Ceres was faultless in design and really jumped out as a product that had been engineered by people who really understood climbing. I used that pack on so many trips and expeditions, from Scottish and Alpine Winter, to exploration in Mongolia and Cuba, to UK cragging.
The indestructible Ceres!
My regular climbing partner, Mark Garthwaite, who is one of Scotland’s most accomplished winter climbers, was also given an original Ceres pack at the same time as me, back in 2000. He has used it solely for all his climbing for the subsequent fifteen years, including the North Faces of the Eiger and the Grande Jorasses in winter. He’s very hard on his equipment and I presumed this pack would finally have bitten the dust, but I couldn’t believe it when he showed up with it on our recent trip to Arctic Norway and it looked almost brand new!
‘The Welsh Triple Crown’in 2014, with the iconic Variant 37
In the winter of 2014, I managed to complete Snowdonia’s mythical climbing challenge: a one-day link-up of three contrasting climbs: a 100m vertical ice climb - Central Icefall Direct VI, a 40m vertical trad climb - Lord of the Flies E6 and a fiercely overhanging boulder problem called Jerry’s Roof V9. In preparation, I knew I was going to have to be at the top of my game in all three disciplines and also that equipment choices would be critical. I had to carry a lot of gear and make seamless switches from rock to ice like a triathlete at a changeover station. I decided to use the awesome Variant 37 (Osprey’s statement alpine pack at the time) and this enabled me to transport and access an array of kit such as axes, crampons and helmet, and the carrying comfort was a blessing towards the end of the day when fatigue started to kick in. But little did I know just how important this trusty pack would prove to be. As we reached the top of Central Icefall, there was a deafening roar and half the route collapsed, sending a shower of car-sized ice blocks crashing down on to the slope below. As we descended, hearts in mouths, I spotted my pack halfway down the hillside, with its contents strewn everywhere and was incredulous to discover that it was still in one piece!’