Climbing Blog

Climbing related posts covering gear, technical, training and Q&A’s. Other posts covering creative writing can be found over at Dark Materials.

07 Aug 17 // Climbing

Cams - Field repairs

The following is an extract from my up and coming book Higher Education, the most exhaustive big wall climbing book yet written. On hard, intensive walls, where cams are being placed and removed hundreds of times, as well as being twisted, bent and abused, trigger wires will break. Such problems when they appear on the ground are annoying, something to fix when you’ve got time, but on a.....

Take!
12 Jul 2017

Take!

I once heard a scary story about miscommunication from a French guy I was teaching how to climb big walls.  He was climbing on some big sea cliff and was out of sight of his belayer when he found.....

Bill Gordon
05 Jul 2017

Bill Gordon

In the credits of your life, scrolling slow as you breath your last, who would appear there, writ in your misty mind? Star billing would be reserved for the stars, those you loved the most, those that.....

10 Things
14 Jun 2017

10 Things

... I wished I knew (before heading up Half Dome RNWF)I had a facebook message this week from a guy called Blair about climbing Half Dome. I get a lot of emails like this, this blog some tinder for.....

knot to question why?
12 Jun 2017

knot to question why?

I saw an old post from 2012 by Outside reappear a few weeks ago on Facebook titled “Bye bye bowline”, reigniting a pretty common debate on the knots safety: whether we should stop.....

brother to all climbers
06 Jun 2017

brother to all climbers

Email from me to Alex Honnold dated 14/06/2012Hi AlexMany moons ago I was asked to pick up an award for you at the Kendal Mountain Film festival for your first film.  I can remember watching.....

Going to the bathroom
16 May 2017

Going to the bathroom

My big wall book is coming along well, and with 21 days to go it’s already on 154%, which is amazing.  A few people have asked if Higher Education will be just ‘another big wall.....

Party Tricks
13 May 2017

Party Tricks

While writing Higher Education again and again I come up with problems that in the past had needed solving, then written out what I did to solve them.  One example was how to lower out a super.....

Petzl Grigri +
12 May 2017

Petzl Grigri +

I’m not a sport climber, in fact I suffer from a lack of motivation when I find myself at single pitch sports crag, a mix of not being strong enough, and bolts not offering that scratch to my.....

New Big Wall climbing Book
07 May 2017

New Big Wall climbing Book

So you want to climb a big wall?Do you want to climb a big wall, wake with a start in the dark clipped to a ledge the size of a dustbin lid?Do you have dreams of nailing pin scar cracks a.....

Extra nuts
05 May 2017

Extra nuts

Hi JackFirst off consider how much more experienced you are partners are now, all those routes climbed and epics lived through, how experience and age gives you a steady and clear foresight to.....

Staying dry when wet
08 Apr 2017

Staying dry when wet

Hi TomerThe original softshell idea was modelled on what the Inuits wore for centuries, being a sort of synthetic animal skin, the pile being the fur that holds the warmth both wet and dry, and the.....

Hot Stuff
04 Apr 2017

Hot Stuff

I know I’ve told this story before, even though I’m not sure if it’s true, but The North Face once asked Mick Fowler to design them the ultimate mountaineering pack, Mick a man perhaps more.....

The Water Margin
30 Mar 2017

The Water Margin

HiWhen it comes to climbing big walls one of the killers is water.  Take too much and the weight can crush your climb, take too little and thirst will crush you! The issue of how much.....

Alpine Rice Cakes
22 Mar 2017

Alpine Rice Cakes

A normal calorie intake for a man is 2500kcal and for a woman it’s 2000kcal, but that’s a normal person going about a sedate and low activity life.  Add in cold and you can increase that by.....

Andy Fanshawe
11 Mar 2017

Andy Fanshawe

Dear AndyWe haven’t met.I was one of Andy Fanshawe’s regular climbing partners. It is sadly 25 years since he died next Tuesday 14th March.I was just doing some research on the net.....

Eyelet Question
10 Mar 2017

Eyelet Question

Eyelets are always an issue on all boots, especially hooks or anything with moving parts, as climbing is very destructive (one reason why it’s vital to always wear gaiters with such boots).  One.....

Vanessa on the Swing
08 Mar 2017

Vanessa on the Swing

I found some movie files on my computer the other night, taken on our winter climb of the Nose last year.  In there was the footage of Vanessa doing the King Swing, perhaps the most famous pitch.....

Missing Out
01 Mar 2017

Missing Out

Hi WillYosemite big walls - and by Yosemite I mean El Cap, which is THE big wall to climb - can be roughly broken down into three types:- Pure free climbing (West Face, Free rider, El Nino etc) -.....

Portaledge Tie-ins
01 Mar 2017

Portaledge Tie-ins

Hi DanielA lot of people stress about this leading up to their first big wall, having the idea they need a tight belay point at all times (“What if I fall out of bed?”), but once on the.....

UK Nose Training
17 Feb 2017

UK Nose Training

Hi RossI’ve climbed a lot of walls with people who were either novice big wall climbers or simply novice climbers so I really understand where you’re at.  When I climbed the Nose last March.....

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