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Beyond the Bale : June 2018
“The big cable knit jumper made by Sunspel of Nottingham was outstanding. Trekking across an ice cap in the summer can actually be quite hot work, but the jumper was able to wick away my moisture to the surface. Every 15 minutes or so, I turned to my twin brother who would brush off all the frost and ice of my sweat on the shaded side of my back. It worked very well at keeping me dry. “The old clothing could cope with temperature ranges down to about -15°C to -25°C, but then I’d have to put on another layer if the temperature dropped further.” Hugo said the old style clothing he used on Mt Elbrus wasn’t much different to what his brother Ross used in Greenland. “We added a silk scarf and shirts, felt hat, gabardine outer jacket and trousers made to a Burberry design by Barrington Ayre tailors of Cirencester, and putties like they used in World War 1. “Natural fibres, such as wool, are much better than synthetic fibres because nature has designed and made them to cope with natural environments. ADVENTURER ROSS TURNER “After our experience in Greenland, the performance of the Elbrus kit was no surprise. It was very breathable, comfortable to wear, and fairly lightweight even compared to the modern equivalent. “On Mt Elbrus, the normal temperature was around -10°C or -15°C. It wasn’t too cold, but proved that simple layers of wool jumpers, silk shirts and wool outers were perfect for mountaineers in the 1920s.” OLD VERSUS NEW: THE VERDICT Ross said although explorers 100 years ago had to survive horrendous hardships, their traditional clothing made from natural fibres was certainly good enough for the task. “The main requirements for our clothing in Greenland and on Mt Elbrus were breathability, mobility and comfort, and of course the ability to keep us warm when resting or camping. “Natural fibres, such as wool, are much better than synthetic fibres because nature has designed and made them to cope with natural environments. “Both snow-trekking and climbing require you to work hard and this in turn generates body heat and sweat. Natural fibres, especially wool, are very good at wicking away moisture vapour. “To maximise the performance of old style clothing made from natural fibres, it’s important to understand how to layer the clothing, but when that’s sorted, the clothing has equal functionality to the modern kit. “The main drawback with the old kit was that it is generally about double the weight of the modern equivalent. However, modern spinning and knitting techniques have created wool garments that are nowadays much better fitting, far more durable, lighter, softer and more comfortable.” In fact, recent research shows that under certain conditions you can dress 20-25% lighter with wool than with synthetic apparel and still get the same insulation and comfort. Hugo said the courageous explorers of the early 20th century set the standard for polar and mountaineering clothing and equipment for the next 50 years, up until plastics became easier to make and more ‘fashionable’ than natural materials. “But I think there is a wonderful lesson to be learnt from the past; utilise the best technologies with the best natural fibres to produce a product that combines the best of both worlds. “Even on these two expeditions, Ross and I both used modern Merino wool base-layers and down jackets when setting up camp which reflects how good people still find natural materials on expeditions. “Nowadays, as well as wool hats and socks, we always wear Merino wool base-layers – they are the best.” More information www.theturnertwins.co.uk Ross and a stylishly dressed Hugo about to climb Mt Elbrus in Russia. PHOTO: Oksana Danilova In 2016, the Turner twins travelled on an expedition to Australia’s ‘continental pole of inaccessibility’ – the most distant point (920km) from the coastline – using powered paragliders called paramotors. The twins started near Adelaide and three weeks later reached the centre of Australia, near the small indigenous community of Papyuna, 161 km west- northwest of Alice Springs. “Rural Australia is absolutely epic. The vastness of the land was very evident when flying at around 5,000ft,” Ross said. "The outback is by far the most adventurous place we’ve been in Australia. Meeting the amazing local people and seeing the beautiful country was very special.” TO THE RED CENTRE OF AUSTRALIA OFF FARM 11