|Cosy winter camping in -4 degC in Austria|
As you know, our van is a fully electric 2015 Nissan e-NV200 with a 24kWh battery pack, this was the only size battery available 7 years ago. We bought the van 2nd hand 6yrs ago in 2016 and converted it to a campervan.
|Removing the old 24kWh battery|
My partner Amy recently wrote an article for UKC about how to use trains to go on climbing trips. Here's a link to the original article. The article was based on the experiances Amy and I have had taking the train to climbing destinations all over Europe and even all the way to China! Here's a copy of the article:
How I got into train travel and my motivations
European EV Charging Cables (AC)
The Short version (TLDR): No, special cables required!
|EV Charging Station in Hungary|
Note: his post was written from the perspective of a Welshman travelling from Wales in the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, YMMV.
Activating Charge Points (RFID and APPs)
|Rapid charging on Fastned network in Germany, one of the best charging networks in Europe|
"COVID-19 has driven the message home to appreciate the local, but more importantly, climate science is telling us clearly that flying for adventures or sport cannot be justified. Therefore, flying for adventures should not be communicated as a desirable behaviour within our culture, no matter how intrepid or boundary-pushing the trip was."
DMM a local climbing hardware manufacturer recently published an article I wrote about my electric campervan. Read the original article on DMM's website here.
Growing up in Snowdonia North Wales DMM has always been one of the local companies I admire the most: their ethos of in-house designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art climbing hardware resonate with me. The DMM factory being located on the shore of Llyn Padarn a leisurely 5min bike ride of my house. 10 years ago when I started my own company I was keen to where possible manufacture locally to keep transportation energy to a minimum. This is worked out well, we still manufacture all our electronic energy monitoring and EV charging hardware in a factory in Bangor, local manufacture has lots of benefits.
It was an honour to write an article for DMM. The reception of the article was very positive, hopefully it will help inspire others to lower the ecological impact of travel. Here is a copy of the article:
Our van is an early Nissan e-NV200 model with a small battery (24kWh) compared to new electric vehicles (EVs), which have ranges of 200+ miles (longer than most people’s bladder range!), but the fact that even low range EVs like ours can do long journeys shows how extensive the charging infrastructure in the UK and Europe actually is.
On the way we climbed in:
Austria (Zillertal): Ewige Jagdgrunde / Bergstation - awesome granite crack climbing, wish we had longer here. The bouldering in this area looked fantastic. Sadly it started raining. The Zillertal area had an excellent guidebook.
Italy: Napoleonica - amazing location high above Trieste, a bit hot and polished
Slovenia: Misja Pec / Osp - Totally awesome, been on my wish list to visit for many years. Did not disappoint. Great climbing in a beautiful location and nice campsite. Keen to return when temperatures are a bit cooler.
Part 1: Wales 🏴, England 🏴, France 🇫🇷, Belgium 🇧🇪, Germany 🇩🇪, Austria
Train travel and EV travel are very low carbon in comparison to flying, especially in France where most of the electrical energy is generated by low carbon sources (mostly nuclear).
A train is a very good option for travel to the south of France, it's possible to get a direct train from London to Marseilles, we've done this trip via train several times before. It's very quick an easy. However, we were keen to squeeze in a days climbing in the alps and would require a car to travel around and reach the wedding venue.
Our Nissan e-NV200 EV campervan is currently in a bodyshop getting new rear doors and a bumper after being rear-ended last month. The E-NV200 is totally capable of making a trip to the south of France (we drove across France on our way to Spain). However, with a 24kWh battery and 70 mile range it would have taken us 2.5-3 days from N.Wales to travel to the south of France; obviously not ideal if only going for a short period. We were very lucky that my in-laws kindly offered to lend us their Tesla Model S for the trip, we did not need much persuading to take them up on this very kind offer! Since the Tesla is a 2015 model it's got free supercharging which meant our total fuel cost for the trip was less than £5 (charging at home). It's possible to rent a Tesla Model S for £80/day with free supercharging.
Driving a Tesla long distance is very smooth and easy, the in-built sat-nav automatically navigated us to supercharging locations and told us how long to charge in each location. The Tesla Models S60 has a range of 200 miles, we found this to be plenty, we often felt like we wanted a break from driving before the car needed charging! Most supercharging stops where less than 30min after 3hrs of driving at 80 miles when road conditions allowed with A/C running since it was over 30 deg C outside! Autopilot was engaged taking control of accelerating / braking and steering while on the motorways, this made the drive very easy and relaxing.
Here's a video edit of the trip:
|Great Van Camping Spots In Jaen|
As you can tell, I'm totally sold on the benefits and practicality of EVs, even living in rural Snowdonia range and public charging has not been an issue. I discuss these issues in depth in my Zero Carbon Future post.
We've been driving a 2014 24kWh Nissan LEAF and more recently a 2015 24kWh Nissan e-NV200 both of which we bought 2nd hand. We recently converted the e-NV200 to a campervan, it's been a super fun project. We've got some exciting EV campervan trips planned soon!
Since we got our first EV, 8 of our friends who live within a 10-mile radius in Snowdonia have also made the transition. I'm happy to say that recently my dad has decided to swap his 14yr old diesel pickup for an electric van! He decided to go with a Peugeot Partner Electric van since it has 3 seats in the front. With the help of Jonathan from eco-cars.net we managed to purchase a 2015 Peugeot Partner Electric in an auction. I picked up the van a few days ago.
|Reaching southern Spain after driving the e-NV200 campervan from North Wales UK|
I used to own a diesel Citroen Dispatch campervan which I converted myself many years ago. This van served me well on many trips, however, as soon as we got a Nissan LEAF electric car a couple of years ago I sold the Dispatch campervan. I couldn't justify the high cost of running a diesel van compared to an EV and driving an internal combustion vehicle just felt old and wrong. The future is certainly electric. Switching to an EV is one of the most effective ways of reducing personal CO2 emissions, see my blog post Zero Carbon Future (low carbon present).
Visiting Norway is something that we had been talking wistfully about for the past few years. Our honeymoon seemed like the perfect excuse to finally splash out (we knew a trip to this amazing country would be more expensive than a typical European adventure). So this summer we made it happen.
|Paddling back after a day climbing at Flatanger, still baking hot and super sunny at 9pm!|
Nice to see that other people in the industry are aware of their footprint. I'm a professional skier based in France, and drove to the Alps from North Wales in my 24kw LEAF EV, with a seasons worth of kit, 7 pairs of skis, and a house plant called Barbara. The car has been mega in the snow, and we've had the biggest winter in 30+ years. The cold not a massive problem (-28 at times), and remote climate control is amazing! The local charger is supplied from the hydroelectric dam. Best decision I ever made.
|Overland Route to Morocco|
Unfortunately it was a bit damp (100% humidity!) therefore we didn't do much bouldering. We did however do some tricky boulder trainer ascents and fantastic fell running and forest exploring, the highlight being the awesome 25 Bosses Trail (17km, 830m ascent).
We drove to Fontainebleau from North Wales in our Nissan LEAF electric car (EV), a return trip of 1300 miles (including driving around at our destination) in winter. It wasn't very difficult (even in our 'old' 2nd hand 24kWh EV), however a bit of prior planning goes a long way.
Electric cars emit significantly less carbon than petrol/diesel vehicles and can be close to zero carbon if charged from renewable sources e.g solar PV / wind. I charged the EV from a 100% renewable tariff at home, the UK ElectricHighway rapid charge network is also 100% matched renewable and the French Sodetral network is very low carbon because of France's extensive nuclear power. See my blog post Zero Carbon Future (low carbon present) for an in-depth comparison of EV Vs. ICE (petrol / diesel).
Earlier in the summer we drove our Nissan LEAF EV to Ceuse in the French alps using the auto-train to transport the car from Paris to Marseilles (see my original Céüse 2017: N.Wales to French alps in an Electric Car blog post for full details of French charging networks, European charging cables and connectors etc). This trip took pretty much the same route to Paris as before but this time we took the opportunity to film and document the journey. Here is a video edit of trip; apologies in advance if it's a bit long, however I was keen to try and incorporate useful details e.g. how to activate French rapid chargers.
|Now available from V12 Outdoor.|
North Wales has some of the best bouldering in the world. In 2004 Simon Panton published the first proper bouldering guidebook to the area:
I've finally managed to find some time to edit the video footage I shot climbing on The Diamond crag on the Little Orme in Llandudno.
The Diamond is one the best sport climbing crags in the UK. It's a shame due to bird nesting restrictions, tides and conditions it's only really possible to climb on it a few months of the year. These restrictions do make those rare days when all the stars align even more magical.
Here's a short video edit of Luke Brooks and I climbing on The Diamond towards the end of the summer.
Luke's project is actually Skip of Fools 8a+ (incorrectly labelled in the video) and my route is The Brute 8b. Both us made good progress but didn't manage to send our projects before winter took hold. I'm actually fine with this, I've been really enjoying the process of red-pointing and it's a good motivation to train over the winter to have an open project! Roll on next summer..
Here's a few photos from The Diamond:
Here's a copy of my slides:
Here's a copy of the agenda:
|Tesla Model X filming on Black Rock Sands Porthmadog|
I first hired one of their Tesla Model S EV's to surprise Trystan Lea. We're both EV enthusiasts currently driving Nissan LEAF's. It was amazing to experience the power, range and high tech features of a Tesla e.g. self-driving auto pilot, self-park etc. Not that had any doubt before but the future is most certainly electric transport! I made a short video of our time with the Model S driving around Snowdonia with a few drone shots.
Whitecar liked the video so much they asked me to make a similar clip for the Model X. Unable to resist a chance to experience a Model X for a few days I agreed. The filming over two days was a lot of work, I enlisted Ryan Brooks to help me. The weather was terrible for the two days we had the car, super high wind and driving rain! Ryan did an amazing job flying his Mavic Pro drone in extremely challenging environments. Two days of filming generated 85GB's of footage, it took me weeks to review and edit it all.
Here's a little video edit I made of Céüse and the climbing, shot using a DJI Spark mini drone (new toy!):
|On top (and above) Céüse at sunset|
Driving to Céüse in an Electric Car (EV)
|The Journey, EV driving in blue, EutoTrain section in red|
|Nissan LEAF at 1500m below Petit Céüse|
When I started driving an EV at the end of last year the plan was to 'electrify' and reduce the carbon emissions for our daily commutes to work and local driving around N.Wales e.g. cragging on the Orme, Pass, Tremadog, Gogarth etc. I had calculated that these local journeys added up to account for many more miles average over the year than one or two longer trips away in the van e.g. to the alps. Initially my plan was to keep my van for longer trips.
However, it soon became apparent that our electric car was capable of much more than just a local run-around. Roll on 8 months and 12,000 electric miles later we have we have now ditched both my diesel van and our diesel car in favour of a single fully-electric 2014 24kWh Nissan LEAF. After experiencing driving an EV it felt like a step backwards to take my van for a long trip. It was difficult to justify the vastly increased carbon and particulate emissions, noisy, less comfortable driving and massively more expensive option of driving my van. See my previous blog post "Zero Carbon Future, Low Carbon Present" comparing the emissions and running cost of EV Vs petrol / diesel cars.
I got involved using our Nissan LEAF electric car and a Renault Twizy rented from the Eco Travel Network in the Brecon Beacons to create three short videos to promote the charging points and outdoor activities in the area, it was great fun!
Even though mid-wales does not currently have many rapid charging facilities (50kW) there are plenty of fast charge locations (7kW) that will charge a car in 3-4hrs. Checkout PlugShare.com to view the locations of the charge points.
Here are the videos we made:
Day 1: Getting There..
This transition to a zero carbon future does admittedly sound daunting. The good news is that there is a lot of evidence that this transition can be done in a way that is socially and economically beneficial with no loss in living standards using technology that we currently have today. See the Zero Carbon Britain Report for a tangible plan for how this can be achieved. A key component of every zero carbon strategy I’ve seen is the electrification of transportation and elimination of flying. It's amazing the carbon reductions that we as individuals can currently achieve with minimal effort.
For example, taking my annual pilgrimage to the 'best crag in the world' in the French Alps as an example:
UPDATE: Van has now been sold
With a heavy heart selling my beloved camper van. I'm just not getting use of it anymore after getting an electric car. It's been a reliable companion for many adventures for the last 7 years. I bought the van in 2010 and converted it myself. It passed an MOT and service last week with flying colors. I've kept a full service history.
This special route is unique and has been on our bucket list for many years; it did not disappoint.
The conglomerate rock towers of Mallos de Riglos are 300m high and despite appearance are surprisingly solid! Fiesta de los Biceps (6a, 6c+/7a, 6c, 6b+, 6b+, 6c+, 6a+) takes the steepest line up Visera tower. Locating the base of the route is easy, the permadry snail trail chalk line can be seen from the town!
The climbing is in a forest on soft well-bolted sandstone. The climbing area is quite small, just one line of crags so probably a few days climbing here would be enough. However, I really enjoyed the couple of half days we spent climbing here, once on the drive out and one on the return journey.
|Amazing steps up to Obere Schlossbergwände|
Any discussion about Frankenjura should also include mention of Kaffee & Kuchen (coffee and cake) .....and beer! The area is famous for a culture of great homemade cake made with local fruit. The area also has the highest density of local traditional breweries in Bavaria, a high accolade indeed!
|Picturesque garage in Frankenjura (Richard Grüner in Obertrubach)|
|Van making strange noise....ah that would be why! DMM cam and crabs to the rescue...|
|20 Euro german welding job....back on the road :-D|
- Rock Store in Betzenstein is a well-stocked climbing shop with fast free WiFi, cheap good beer, a climbing wall, friendly staff who speak English and happy to recommend crags.
- All shops close all day on Sundays and most restaurants and cafes are also shut on Monday
- It's possible to get drinking water to refill my van 25L bottle from the public toilets in Neuhaus, pliers are needed to turn on the tap.
- We hired bikes from Pension Mühle in Egloffstein