Goodbye innov_ex hello OutdoorGearCoach


Leaving innov_ex and my businesses behind and starting OutdoorGearCoach


Mike on the crags

Mike on a winter route

Mike:  Sunday 6th October 2013

After Mary’s late-night party, I left early in bright sunshine to go back up to Cumbria to climb, then some clouds and spots of rain appeared.

Arrived at Pete’s, its fine. Went on to Borrowdale, low cloud, rain drifting across in lumps.

Pete: “Shepherds or Troutdale Pinnacle?” Guidebook says “TP can be done in the rain although rather harder but still enjoyable”. Am feeling rather doubtful but he heads off up the track.

Arrived bottom of crag, will he back off? it was slanting wet rain and strong wind.

umhhh? Pete takes out his rope and harness, Oh dear, he is not backing off? uummh!

Breaking the best advice I ever had from a manufacturer’s catalogue,Wild Country. (‘never talk whilst roping up’)

Pete: “ You know that product training idea you were talking about? I have the feeling it’s a really good idea, an industrialist and innovator getting together with an academic, who you’ve collaborated with to write a book and teach innovation, is something different than anybody else is doing. I know where you are coming from with all that Innov-ex stuff, but…….I think you’ve got to leave that brand behind, keeping innovation and the history of course. The website has to say what it does and be really direct”.

Mike: “Yes see where you are coming from, its bugging me a bit”.

Pete starts pitch 1 then brings me up: “The website has to say what’s in the tin and do what it says on the tin.”

Mike, silence, its wet and slippery and …….phew. “Pete, I am concentrating”.

Pete: “Hey its easy now, under this overhang there are 2 dry footholds”.

Reached arete at last and nice comfy belay seat, windy but stopped raining.

Thinking for a moment whilst Pete engineers his way up the crux greasy corner:

Yow, he is over the top. My turn, ……….tight, ………..phew. Hey good lead Pete!

Let’s take care on this wet grass up here.

Me – You know what you were saying about our new website? What about ‘gear coach’

Pete: Yeah like the word coaching but needs outdoor…….

Outdoor Gear Coach? ………And so a name was born!

Mary :

The party was my retirement celebration, not an ending so much as a set of new beginnings. More time for the hills and outdoors, for travelling, writing for the joy of it and for new ventures.  It was exactly 35 years ago that I arrived in Lancaster as a young academic.

Mary enjoying cold and sunshine above Wasdale.

Mary enjoying cold and sunshine above Wasdale.

I loved my years working at Lancaster University and especially enjoyed the 14 years working with Mike on our book, Invisible on Everest, our annual Innovation for Extremes conference and especially our innovation courses. We decided to use all that joint work experience in new ways and had been bouncing ideas around since June. Mike’s climb with Pete meant we could start articulating and visualise what we were doing. Since October this has evolved into our publishing, training and communications platform to build better understanding of the use of outdoor gear.


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