Thursday, April 7, 2011

Preparing for Scotland

On Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I'll be lecturing about the US National Healthcare IT program in Edinburgh, Scotland

Since I'll have Saturday and Sunday free, my hosts graciously arranged a trip to the Scottish Highlands to climb:

Aonach Eagach 
Bidean nam Bian
Ben Nevis via Carn Mor Dearg (the highest point in the UK).

I asked my hosts what kind of weather to expect in May.  Their answer -
Ben Nevis has an average year 261 gales per year and 171 inches of rain.

I'm used to the mountains in the lower 48 US states - the Sierra, the Tetons, and the Whites.   All are dry climbs with an occasional brief afternoon shower.

For Scotland, I must choose boots that are completely waterproof, grip wet rocks, and are light/compact/easy to pack.     Did I mention that Ben Nevis in May may have snow at the top?

After considering many brands and possibilities, I decided on a new boot technology - the TrekSta Men's Evolution Mid GTX.

Treksta designed these Gortex lined books by scanning 20,000 feet to create a three dimensional shape that is quite different from other shoes.    The sole is made from sticky rubber plus a series of fiberglass embedded inserts that add traction on rock, ice and mud.

The shoes weigh 15 ounces each, are ankle height, are completely waterproof, fit like a glove, and are stiff enough for technical climbing.

It was tough to find a boot that would work in the constant rain of the Scottish Highlands, but the Treksta's seem like an amazing departure from the road usually travelled by boot manufacturers.

Armed with my usual total body Gortex and the same clothing approach I've used in New England, I'll let you know how I fare with the Scottish Highlands next month.


Ben said...

Don't climb Ben Nevis at night.. I tried that and it was terrible. Also be carefully if it's foggy - several people have died up there. Enjoy the Highlands, they're wonderful!

Alan said...

Scottish weather from a Scot:

The west coast tends to be milder and much wetter and the east coast drier but windy and cooler. The weather can be great in May but you never know what you are going to get. The last time I was home, three or four years ago, it was mid-April and the weather was sunny and in the seventies--not what I expected. In Edinburgh everyone was lying out in the sun in the Prince's Street Gardens. Sometimes you get a couple of fantastic weeks in May and then nothing so good the rest of the summer. The changing weather and light can be absolutely fantastic. Years ago I visited Skye in April and vividly remember standing on the western coast and watching clouds, and sun, and rain roll in in wave after wave every few minutes.

At the time of the American revolution, Edinburgh's medical school was the preeminent medical school. Many of the early American medical schools were started by graduates from Edinburgh. If you are on Chambers Street have someone show you where Burke and Hare delivered the cadavers. Other medical trivia: Conan Doyle, who was a student at the medical school, based the character of Sherlock Holmes on a medical lecturer. (The city has at various times been home to many famous writers and authors: Hume, Smith, Boswell, Stevenson, Scott, Spark, McCall Smith, Welsh, Rankin, Rowling, ...). Have fun.

Ian McNicoll said...

Hi John, I believe you met my Ocean Informatics colleagues, Heather and Hugh Leslie a couple of weeks ago. I am a former Scottish GP with family in Edinburgh and am involved in local primary care informatics as well as my wider openEHR remit. I would love to hear your talk if at all possible- is this in an NHS meeting or academic setting?

I hope you get good weather for your trip to the Highlands but watch out for the 'midgie'!! see

Anonymous said...

I thought UK put moratorium on EHR for primary care.

Anonymous said...

Would love to see a copy of your presentation or summary of your talk. I think we all benefit by looking outside of our country, and a vicarious peek in this instance would be appreciated!

Alan said...

Anonymous wrote: "I thought UK put moratorium on EHR for primary care".

I can't speak to the details but law, health, education, and other matters are generally different in England and Scotland. My understanding is that the implementation of electronic records in Scotland is much further along and less beset by problems.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you'll find a purveyor of Gore-Tex kilts on the Royal Mile...

Ankur Seth said...

Hi John,

Good to know you are travelling to Scottish highlands, i would recommend visiting Isle of Sky and Cuith-Raing, the most scenic place that I found in Scotland. Happy travels!!