Photo: Nomads (on a totally unsponsored expedition!) on the move at 4500m in the Lunggarshan, North-Western Tibet - the photographer was also on a totally unsponsored expedition.

Needle Sports is a small single outlet shop in Keswick in Cumbria (in the North of England), yet, perhaps because of our specialist reputation, we are constantly being asked to give sponsorship to expeditions, individual climbers or other worthy causes from all over the UK, either in money or equipment. We receive annually well over a hundred such requests. In fact we regret that we get so many such requests that we have taken the decision that as a general rule we can only afford to support those with a local connection, and even then within quite strict criteria.

These criteria include that, whilst we would be keen to help local youngsters explore the greater ranges, we are not interested in supporting any sort of commercial enterprise such as Jagged Globe, KE, Himalayan Kingdoms etc (after all they don't sponsor us!), so, if you are thinking of organising a trip, do it yourselves - don't get a commercial expedition organiser to do it for you. You will find that employing such an outfit to do the donkey work for you will at least double your costs and mean that less effort, research, input and decision making is needed by those taking part, the consequence of which is that the members of the team will get a lot less out of it. In fact, the point that you start employing an agency to handle the whole trip for you and guide you up the mountain is the point that it ceases to be a true expedition and becomes some sort of guided experience. It also means that you may not be eligible for grants that you could have applied for were you doing it off your own bat. Many such grants are listed on the Grants Section of the Royal Geographic Society website. There (on the right-hand side of the page) you will see links to their own grants and also a PDF file of links to many other grant-giving sources that you may be eligible for. In addition you may be able to apply for grants from the British Mountaineering Council and the Mount Everest Foundation. You will also find useful information on our Expeditions Advice page.

Expeditions hoping to get cheap or free equipment and clothing are advised that they are far more likely to get results by contacting the manufacturer concerned whose costs in providing such goods will be considerably less than those of a retailer. Individual climbers may well find the same, but in the latter case, don't expect a response unless you are a) really pushing the boundaries in your climbing, and b) prepared to work hard to get lots of press coverage in the climbing mags that will show off your sponsor's products to best advantage. To do this, you either need to be winning competitions or climbing very hard new routes, or preferably both!

So our criteria for sponsorship are:

1. There must be a local connection.

2. There must be some sort of exploration involved - usually this will mean attempting an unclimbed peak or at least a new route.

Even then, we can't afford much. If the tax regime in this country ever changes so that we actually get left with some cash at the end of the financial year then we may change our policy - meanwhile, please direct all complaints to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Good luck!

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