Sale Athee – The Dirty Amythist and Exped HL M Mat Test

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The line of Sale Athee on the Charpoura side of the Aiguille du Moine


If you are looking for the lightest airmat for bivis and the fast and light approach, read on as this will be of interest to you.


Time for a mountaineers snack of cheese and sausage at the bivi


Will soaking up the rays at our bivi spot in the Charpoura


Bouldering in the evening light


When I received the Exped Airmat HL M through the post I was impressed by the small pack size which similar to the size of Thermorest’s popular NeoAir. However when I opened the stuff sac I realised about 1/3 of the volume was due to the ingenious pump that is supplied to keep moisture out of the mat, although Exped claim the mat is impervious to hydrolysis. Leaving the pump at home will save a few precious grams and more importantly reduce your pack size.


Small pack length of around 7 inches


The inflation pump that fits into the stuff sac with the mat


This is a very comfortable mat with a shoulder width of 52 cm, length of 183 cm and thickness of 7 cm. The mat boasts next-to-skin comfort and anti-slip GripSkin honeycomb-pattern coating. I put the mat to the test in the Charpoura basin for an open bivi this summer on route to climb the mega Sale Athee 7a+ on the Aiguille du Moine – a contender for the best rock routes I have done in the Alps. Despite our bivi location being on rock I had a great nights sleep with no cold spots from the ground or dead arms from pressure points when lying on my side. The mats is full length so you avoid cold feet problems with ¾ length mats.

The low packsize to comfort ration means I’ve also taken to chucking the mat in overnight bags when I am away guiding in other places of the Alps and if I get the chance to ride the mountain bike tour of Mt Blanc this autumn it will be coming with me for a remote bivi.

Full metric specification can be found below along with a short video from Exped taking you through all the design features.


Will putting into Yosemite style back foot/knee cams on the pod section


Will heading off on a gorgeous 6C pitch


Will further up the pitch with stunning views to the Dru and Sans Nom


The crux 7A+ fist sized crack


Will coming up another amazing 6C+ pitch


Will nearly the belay


Myself and Will on the summit





4 °C




7 cm


183 cm

Shoulder Width: 

52 cm

Foot Width: 

35 cm

Weight Mat: 

310 g

Weight Pump: 

45 g

Weight Packsack: 

10 g

Packed height: 

18 cm

Packed diameter: 

7 cm

Pack volume: 

0.8 l

Product contents: 


Mini Pump


Repair kit

instruction sheet

Repair manual


2 years


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The Cosmic Virgin

After a very busy month ski mountaineering almost every day, the unsettled weather last week brought a chance to rest, hydrate and eat lots; like 5 or 6 meals a day. I was almost light enough to race a bike again!

I also got bored of standing around taking photos and with a neck injury healing up its been good to ski some long pitches and get some downhill power back that has evaporated with all the ski mountaineering. I did however take a few shots of Ally Swinton popping his Cosmiques Virginity in one of the blower runs his week in between gasping for air!

Cosmique-2 Cosmique-10 Cosmique-17 Cosmique-19 Cosmique-31 Cosmique-33 Cosmique-34

Nonne Eveque

We planned for a 2 day stay in the Couvercle refuge and set off carrying food, stove and gas for the stay. On the approach to the hut the wind kept getting stronger and snow quality for skiing was deteriorating rapidly. At the hut we stopped for an hour or so to brew tea and wait and see if the wind  would drop.  We could see the big South facing ski lines were covered in wind polished, crusty snow, there wasn’t going to be any good skiing in the Telefre basin the next day. We decided to take our kit and go home via the Nonne Eveque which would be sheltered from the wind and contain good snow. I have been wanting to go there for a few weeks now as its not often that the moraine is easily passible and the hot afternoon sun usually runnels this West facing line.  Its a great line, never that steep, with the added interest of a narrow ice choked chimney at its base. Breche Nonne Eveque route 1

Nonne Eveque Couloir

Photo credit: Phil Ingle. Check out his page at Eveque-9Nonne Eveque-1926th Feb 2013 Nonne-EvequeNonne Eveque-24Nonne Eveque-32Nonne Eveque-34Nonne Eveque-38Nonne Eveque-42Nonne Eveque-5226th feb Nonne-Eveque