I read this post on a blog I subscribe to about gear, and thought two things, one, I couldn't come up with ten pieces of outdoor gear that I just love unconditionally (is any piece of gear really that good) – although I am pretty damn fond of my sea kayak – and, two, the difference between mediocrity and greatness in the outdoors never comes down to gear. So, I came up with my own list of what's important in the outdoors whether you are hiking, climbing, ski touring or kayaking and it has nothing whatsoever to do with gear. In no particular order then:
- The ability to see things as they are, not how you wish they were. This means not just conditions, but your group, your abilities and even why you failed last time. Will Gadd thinks this is the pretty important too.
- Know how to navigate. Not follow your GPS around, but really know how to read a map, plan a route, identify potential difficulties along the route and alternatives around those difficulties, how to route find (both on a macro and a micro level) and all the other myriad things that go along with planning and executing a new trip (what gear you'll need, how long it will take, etc.). Really tough for the new generation who have never gone out without the latest electronic gizmo in their hands and a stream of detailed trip instructions from the web.
- Be imaginative. See new routes at your local crag, or up the nearby mountains and go make them happen. Visualize great traverse routes on maps, across mountain ranges or oceans, through valleys. Learn to forge your own route.
- Show commitment and perseverance. Be mentally tough and resilient. Follow your own path. You can never be great if you are always striking off to do the next hip thing (think, stand-up paddle boarding – how long will that last?). Succeeding requires hard focused work over a long period of time and has little to do with gear.
On a new traverse route through the Badshot Range
that turned out as good as it looked on the map.