Thursday, 12 July 2012

Our blog has moved!

You may have heard or noticed, for those of our friends of Facebook or regular customers in store, that we now have a snazzy new website up and running! It's very exciting, with a new and improved layout designed to make it easier for you to find that great deal, check out related items or keep up to date with what's what in North Wales. It's worth a look at the new site below:

The new Joe Brown's Website!!!

It's also got a new News and Events section, which is now our new blog, so there will sadly be no more updates on this one. It's a bit of a shame that we're leaving the old one behind, but again the new blog will be shinier, jazzier and full of the exciting trip reports and gear reviews that we've always had. The link is again below, so please check it out and let us know what you think.

The new Joe Brown's Blog page!!!

Again, hopefully see you at the new site, (or better still in store next time you're here!) and keep checking for the latest news!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

New running shoe area in Corner Shop!

We've had a bit of a rearrange in our shops in Llanberis this week, and our range of running shoes, clothing and equipment have been moved down the road to our Corner Shop! With a bit more space to have a wander round and try the shoes out, we're hoping it makes life a little easier for members of our local running clubs, and anyone visiting who's after getting the right shoe first time out.

We have quite a range, with no less than 18 models of shoe to chose from, from three different manufacturers. As well as this, we stock socks, bags, and other paraphernalia designed to make your off-road running even more enjoyable! Whether you're taking a little jog round Bryn Engin or Cannock Chase, or even taking on this year's OMM Mountain Marathon, pop in and we'll help you out as much as we can.

Hopefully run into you all soon!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Report from the Himalaya

As i'm sure you've noticed if you've been reading this blog for a while, we here at Joe Browns love going away. We love talking about going away, and love playing with the kit while we're there. A second best is hearing about our customers going to far off and exciting places, scaling mighty walls and mountains and playing with those toys they got from us before. For most, this is taking a new pair of walking boots round the Lake District, or a pair of axes to Scotland for the winter, but Sergio Zigliotto has taken it one step further. Well, maybe more than just the one step...

The image on the left shows Sergio sporting one of the Mountain Equipment Redline Down Suits we were selling last year, atop the summit of "the mighty Putha Hiunchuli (also named Dhaulagiri VII) of 7246 meters, in the wonderful region of Dolpo". We received this photo one day from a very happy Italian, and asked him for some more info:

"I went to Nepal with a German Agency called Amical Alpin and together with other 12 mountaineers" he explained, at around late-September to late-October. This is often classed as the best time to visit the area, as the monsoon rains have stopped and the temperatures are at their best. Still, with temperatures dropping to "-27°C and a strong wind" it's still no piece of cake!

"This area is still remote and there are just a few trekkers going there.
We had to take 2 domestic flights to arrive to Juphal, where the trekking to
starts. It takes 8 days then to arrive to base camp at 4950 meters."

Sergio explained to me that he had been through some fantastic places and unique villages, "where people still live in a quiet way and "far from the madding crowd"." where the locals were of Tibetan ancestry, and keen to keep hold of their heritage and traditions. As almost everyone i've spoken to who has visited the area, Sergio had only nice things to say for the people, saying they were, "Really nice and interesting".

"After we arrived at BC, we started the acclimatization period, by fixing the high camps and coming back to BC many times" Sergio explains, "We fixed C1 at 5450 mtrs, C2 at 6200
mtrs and C3 at 6550 mtrs"

But it seems Sergio and his team were now on a bit of a race against time, as a cold front was blowing in, with a now or never attitude adopted. "With a temperature of -27°C and a strong wind we climbed the West Ridge up to the summit, where just the 6 of us arrived at 9.30 am. Thanks to my ME Redline down suit, I [did not have] any freezing problems and enjoyed the view from the summit for half an hour time." A snow storm arrived during their descent, complicating matters slightly, but all parties arrived safe and sound back at Camp 1.

Sergio explained how it was a phenomenal trip and a "a fantastic adventure in the high altitude and in remote areas, where it is still possible to find a true wilderness and lonely places." making us slightly jealous here at Joe Browns. Still, the photos have been flying round the staff since we received his e-mail, and it's been fantastic to know we were able to be (albeit a small) part of his amazing trip. Congratulations go out to all involved in their expedition, for their success and safe return, and we hope to hear from him again soon.

If you've been somewhere exciting with something from here and wish to share it with us, please feel free to e-mail us at and we'll put a brief trip report on here to share with our other customers, followers and friends.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Rab MeCo Competition.

Six New MeCo Long Sleeve 120 Tops to be won. Worth £40.00 each.

(Men's Colour will be Spring Green & Women's Colour will be Violet)

For the month of October you have the chance to be one of 6 lucky winners.

All you need to do is visit the Rab Web Site to discover the answer to this one simple question.

What does the name MeCo stand for?

E-mail us at with your answer during the month of October and you will be entered into the free draw to win one of 6 MeCo tops.

Please include your postal address, a day time phone number, gender and garment size in case you are one of the lucky winners. You will be notified by e-mail or telephone.

Competition closes on the 31st October and winners announced in the first week of November.

No purchase necessary.

No alternative prizes available.

Good Luck!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Squamish Select

Week two was just about to begin, my fingers and skin having rested enough to give them another beasting! Having got the hang of the slopey nature of the rock there, it was now time to tick off some more of the classic problems that Squamish had to offer. Possibly the most highly renowned problem there is known as Superfly V4 and really is a truly stunning line and thoroughly recommended. The rising traverse to the left is also a fantastic problem too, although it's name escapes me.

However, just next to Superfly sits the most talked about boulder problem i got up; a small, sitting start route, a bit of a one-move wonder, this classic doesn't have a name and isn't in the guidebook. Yet, Simon, my host and bouldering companion, told me he'd never seen anyone do it. It's pictured below, and summarised bouldering for me perfectly: fun, sociable and quite frankly a little bit daft! Quite at odds with the fantastically technical V3 slab that came next - another problem where i was able to cut out several moves from Simon's beta. Still, it was quickly on to another classic, Easy in an Easy Chair V3, although my antics on the miniature boulder left me with pain in my abs, so i was forced to take it easy for the rest of the day.

The penultimate day now, and we took a hike further up towards the base of the Chief. As we gained altitude, the landings became rockier, the boulders higher, and my inclination to get on them slightly less. A few easier problems, some more milage gained, but then one of the highlights. After a few hours of falling off very close to the ground, we took a walk up to base. The sheer scale of the face is almost unimaginable, at least until you realise the small green things near the top are actually trees, and those small dots on the wall are climbers. Although i may not have gone to climb this monolithic wall, it was certainly stunning to be there and a sight i will not forget in a hurry.

The last day we went to one of Simon's favourite haunts for warming up and ticked along the classics Squamish Days V2 (massively overgraded if you want an easy tick) Squamish Days traverse V2 and Anatomy Lesson V3. Sloppy Poppy V4 is also a must for any passing climber as it's moves are truly fabulous, even if it did nearly break us all. I finished my last day down near Superfly again, trying the rising slopey traverse of Baba Hari Dos V7 once more and using the last few hours of daylight to really run the skin thin, and enjoy being in the forest for the last time. An amazing venue, and one of the most spectacular climbing spots i have ever been, Squamish and the Stawamus Chief are now at the top of the list of must-visit venues.

I spent a few days visiting some family in Thunder Bay on the way home, indulging in some non-climbing activities such as some shooting, boating (with a speed boat out at camp) and a little light hiking. While my love of Vancouver was great, my time in Ontario cemented my belief that Canadians are some of the warmest and nicest people i've ever encountered, in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Oh Canada!

After 27 hours in the air, six airports visited, five cities explored, nearly three weeks off work and countless questions regarding the two enormous bouldering pads on my back, I have returned from a trip of a lifetime: I've been in Squamish!

This trip had been planned for months in advance, taking a very different approach to various other trips documented on here like my Spanish, Italian and French excursions of the last two years. I was met in Vancouver by my friend Simon, after travelling half way round the world alone, and he graciously lent me a sofa for the duration of my stay. Even though he was working in the mornings, every day we managed to drive an hour north to the base of the Stawamus Chief for some mild-core bouldering. I've left projects all over Europe before, and really didn't want another hard climb left almost done, so decided to tick off some of the Top-100 problems of V5/6 and under. I was not disappointed.

The first day or two were a bit damp, so mainly spent relaxing and heading Downtown to watch the hockey, although we managed to go and have a quick look round the Apron. Not an ideal place to begin, with poor landings and sandbag problems, but day three soon improved. The Titanic boulder was superb, and Titanic V3 remains one of the best i climbed in my time there. A quick glance at Airtight Garage V7 involving a tricky fall reinforced my belief to aim to concentrate on easier climbs, although my ability to read rock well soon reared it's head on a tricky V3 mantle whose name escapes me.

With the weather improving everyday and the venues becoming better and better, day four was spent a little further north again. Back in March, i went off to Fontainebleau and met a fantastic couple called Steve and MC who live in Whistler, so we drove that bit further up the Sea to Sky Highway and went off to explore the more remote climbing at Pemberton. Strangely, the rock wasn't quite as rough here, and again the climbing improved on the day before, with Pimp Slap V6 (i'll be honest, we missed the first move, making it better but slightly easier) and Into the Light V5 both excellent climbs worthy of their Top-100 status.

Now, it is worth noting the subtly rough nature of the granite in Squamish and by this point in the trip my skin was beginning to feel the effects (something very unusual for me and my leather hands!) so while day five was still a climbing day, I said at the start that it would be taken nice and easily, with no hard problems attempted. Next thing you know i was working on Close Shave V7, with my beta-cheater mindset on again, missing out the slopey rail in the middle of the problem! While i lacked the strength, my companion Simon quickly clocked up only his second Squamish V7, much to his delight, and my dismay....

Then out of the woods came a familiar creature: my old travelling companion, Stu. Regular readers will have read about Stu; my Canadian friend formerly resident at the Pen y Gwyryd who has accompanied me on several of my foreign excursions in the last couple of years. He's now living back in Calgary and made the 10-hour drive to come meet up. While it's always nice to meet up with old friends, Stu was a good mate of mine who has climbed with me all over Europe and it was really nice to catch up. Sadly by this point i had to forgo any climbing as my skin was about to start bleeding but another stunning day was had.

Luck with the weather seemed to be on my side for a change, too, as the first Saturday in Canada was a rainy one, tying in nicely with a much needed rest day. We caught a bus Downtown, and had a look round, examining the scenes from the riots following Wednesdays Stanley Cup finale, and the much-less documented aftermath. A nice relaxing day was ended with the great view over English Bay, and i was reminded of the geniality of the fantastic Canadian people. This was followed by another rest day and a day trip to Seattle (to acquire another stamp in my passport) and i found this to be as amazing a place as Vancouver, and another fantastic city to remember.

But this was a climbing trip, and there was more left to be sent. I'll continue at a later date, so as not to make too long a post, and will include some of the best photos from the trip too.

Monday, 20 June 2011


Have you even wondered how far you could go if you just kept on keeping on?

Have you ever wondered at what point your mental toughness would let you down and whether you had ever really reached your limit?

This year I decided to try and find out….

To raise money for the John Muir Trust and WaterAid, last month I attempted to complete the UK Big 3 mountain rounds in one BIG multi-day push! This includes the Bob Graham Round (England), Paddy Buckley Round (Wales) and Ramsay Round (Scotland). Overall this amounts to 187 miles, 113 mountain summits and 25300m of ascent (that's about 3 times Everest)!

Each classic round in the UK Big 3 is an ultra-distance, 24h fell-running challenge in its own right. There are several amazing fell running records for the UK Big 3, such as Mike Hartley running them all consecutively in 3d 14h 20m (1990) or Helen Diamantides completing all 3, each within 24h over one season (1989)! But I couldn’t find a record of any women tackling the Big-3 in one go (running or otherwise). My idea was to break each round into several days and try to complete the whole lot over 10 consecutive days on the hill.

After a lot of hard training, I began my challenge with the Paddy Buckley Round in Snowdonia. This round involves jogging 62 miles with 8534m of ascent, taking in 47 tops, including Snowdon, the Carneddau, the Glyderau and the Moelwynion. On arrival in Wales, I was greeted by such low cloud that I needed fog lights to find the Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel in the middle of the day!!! Immediately I was concerned about how much longer the challenge would take me if it was necessary to do the whole thing on a compass bearing! Nevertheless, I began my round with Cribau Tregalan the following morning, starting from the Watkin Path car park on May 16th and finished with Yr Aran on May 19th. The first day was by far the worst; with 19 miles in poor visibility and drizzle, I began to seriously worry that I had bitten off more than I could chew (would I fail straight away on Day 1?!!)

Stricken with anxiety, I started up Pen Yr Ole Wen in the rain at the beginning of Day 2. Fortunately, by the time I reached the summit, I had begun to adapt to the conditions and relaxed into the job at hand despite the weather. Day 3 (Moelwyns) and Day 4 (Eifionydd Hills) brought brighter spells and enjoyable running. From my final summit I looked over to Snowdon, now totally clear of cloud, and felt excited at the possibility that it might actually be do-able; one down, two to go…

On May 20th I arrived in Wasdale to begin the Bob Graham Round. The most well-known of the 3 rounds, the Bob Graham is a circuit of 42 fells in the English Lake District, including the peaks of Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Scafell and Scafell Pike. I began my round on May 21st with a straight-up ascent of Yewbarrow. The visibility was again poor on the tops but this time the wind was gathering strength, slowing my progress on ridges and exposed summits, such as Steeple. By Day 2 the wind was gusting 60-70mph and was genuinely tortuous! On the summit of Skiddaw I was forced to crawl into a shelter made of stones near the trig-point. I had never been in wind like this and came close to being lifted off my feet several times! Therefore, when the forecast for Day 3 predicted 110mph gusts (hurricane force winds!), I decided I would have to stay indoors. On Day 4 the winds had dropped enough to be manageable and so I decided to try and tackle both legs 3 and 4 on the same day. Starting at 6am, I raced along the Dodds from Threlkeld, despite being constantly battered by evil hail carried on strong winds. After stopping briefly for a re-fuel at Dunmail Raise, I continued over the Langdale Fells and on towards Scafell. Feeling strong at this stage, the 30 miles and 3780m took me a total of 12.5 hours. Now on the summit of Scafell, the skies were clearing and I was beginning to feel invincible. Surely nothing could stop me now……

How wrong I was.

Arriving back home in Scotland for the Charlie Ramsay Round, I was met with heavy rain and brooding skies. The round scales 24 munros and covers a distance of 60 miles, with 8534m of ascent. Initially, I remained buoyant, knowing I could cope with poor visibility, rain and powerful winds. All I had to do now was run the 11 peaks of the Mamores ridge! But as soon as I set out from Glen Nevis on May 26th my morale began to dip. Soaked to the bone and beginning to flag, I wondered about the futility of it all. What AM I doing!!!

In constant rain, the ridge was eerie and intimidating and my brain didn’t feel much like scrambling either. Ten hours after setting out I was relieved to be standing on the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor but after walking a further 8km to Staoineag bothy, I was thoroughly done-in! Day 2 dawned clear and I began to enjoy myself again, admiring the view and feeling more upbeat. Even when the weather turned and winds escalated in the afternoon, giving rain and terrible gusts on the summit of Stob Choire Easain, I could taste victory. With a smile on my face I struggled against the wind down to Leacach Bothy. Just one day left to go…..

The End…. All that night, tossing and turning, I tried to ignore the wind outside and the drumming of the rain. But in the morning I had a horrible sense of foreboding, which I tried to shake but my morale was critically low. No sooner that I had started up Stob Ban it began to snow. SNOW!!!! This unsettled me greatly at first. Just when I thought that Mother Nature could do no more! It was gusting 60mph but between blizzards, the views were spectacular and the sun shone through. I managed to enjoy the Grey Corries but in the distance, I could see that the Aonachs were getting white with new snow and dark clouds seemed to stick there despite the strong winds. After a sketchy scramble up Stob Coire Bealaich, I started towards the giant Anoachs (1234m and 1221m) through deepening graupel. By the time I was on Aonach Mor the weather was starting to feel TOO serious. I was blown to my knees several times and I struggled to get back up in the wind! Thankfully I had walking poles to give me extra grip, as my fell shoes slipped about in the snow, which has drifted to several inches in places! It was definitely not sensible to push on in this weather, alone and fatigued.

Unaware that a group of friends had secretly amassed on the summit of Ben Nevis to greet me, I bailed down the ski tows of Aonach Mor with my tail between my legs.

Overall I had jogged 177 miles and climbed 111 mountains, totalling an overall height of 24,366m. By not reaching the final two summits, I fell short of completing the challenge by a mere 10 miles and 932m!

I was obviously gutted to have failed so close to the end of the UK Big 3 Challenge but felt happy in the knowledge that I gave it my best shot. Thank you to Joe Browns for sponsoring me in this adventure, through which I raised over £2000 for WaterAid and the John Muir Trust.

BUT now the challenge is out there, unfinished and waiting for some other crazy to have a stab at…..

Go on. You know you want to!

Keri Page