Andy's Blog

Read, comment, spam, bin, rant, cry - take it or leave it I don't care.
What cams?

What cams?

26/05/16 - Q&A

I probably take a slightly different approach to cams than most UK climbers, probably due to spending meany years climbing the the US, and also due to having done a lot of aid climbing. Someone once told me that what Mick Fowler was good at was finding protection and that always stuck with me, and so I kind of make that a priority. For me a good...

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Prusic Loop as pro?

Prusic Loop as pro?

25/05/16 - Climbing Gear Technique

I was asked last night down at the wall about the strength of a prusik loops, a topic that seems to crop up from time to time.  The climber had used his prusik as an extender after running out of quickdraws. First off when it come to cord of any diameter it’s worth having a basic formula for working out its strength.  If it’s perlon...

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Alpine Ultra

Alpine Ultra

24/05/16 - Gear

I must be a nightmare for kit designers, men and woman I’ve been bumping heads with for decades now.  Most often than not a designer wants to flex their muscles, add some new fangled idea, a wheel that’s more round, or is square so it doesn’t roll down hills, some game changing idea that the world will flock to buy.  Being a...

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Drinks & Tips

Drinks & Tips

23/05/16 - Writing

“What do I write about?” is a question I get asked quite a lot, by people in search of the writing in them.  My answer is usually: “nothing at all”, adding, “but that takes years of practice”. “Read that draft of The Bear Pit” said John, as we stood, a pile of books for me to sign on the table between...

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Is 225 grams worth it?

Is 225 grams worth it?

19/05/16 - Q&A

Hi First off I’d only ever view the water-resistant shell of a bag as only being ‘food’ or ‘spilt tea’ proof, and not storm proof.  These shells are not taped and are really there to stop the down from sucking in water like a Pertex shell does (once it’s DWR wears off).  These shells work well in damp tents, bothies and snow...

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Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor

18/05/16 - Expression

We drive through the midnight canyons, back to the Valley, red wine in our bellies, songs in our ears.  Music starts and stops, killed dead at half a track, killed dead at the first bar, voted down and voted off.  It was the usual iPod jukebox of “Listen to this” and “what’s this shit?”.  From the back Cian asks for bands...

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until it hurts no more

until it hurts no more

15/05/16 - Expression

I once joked, standing by the kettle, that I could write a book about relationships.  It was one of those things I say, threaded to a thought, that comes with all the thinking, weight and suddenness as an unexpected sneeze.  The girl I was speaking to burst out laughing at this, at hearing me say something so obviously stupid, so...

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Rap and Trail Lines

Rap and Trail Lines

13/05/16 - Gear

Rap cords or trail lines have been around a very long time,  as a second skinny rope to a thicker single rope and used primarily for abseiling (and sometimes light hauling).  These ropes have ranged from 3mm to 8mm and in the past were most usually just full length accessory cord, so static and not suitable for falls.  These lines...

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Sermons

Sermons

12/05/16 - Expression

Once upon a time, before the web, before TV, before we could even read, most news came from the pulpit, knowledge and truth and wisdom dished out by the priest, the vicar, the rabbi, the Imam.  Our world was in the palm of their hands, all we knew on the tip of their latin tongue (to own a non latin bible was punishable by death). Then came...

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Tank Man

Tank Man

11/05/16 - Expression

Nazi.  Is there a more bloody word in this world, only four letters, yet it has such power, like a history curse.  A bloody word that is often used by little understood. Type in that word last week and you’d find a picture of Tess Asplund, not that you’d know her name.  She’s the Swedish woman who stood in the street and held...

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Q&A: The Do it all Boot?

Q&A: The Do it all Boot?

10/05/16 - Q&A

Hi Liam This is probably one of the more common questions I get, namely how can I get the cheapest boots to do the job, and can I use them in Scotland as well?  Unfortunately boots are one of the few bits of kit where you just cannot scrimp.  For clothing you could get an outfit from Decathlon or Trespass, use a caravan camping...

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One Stitch at a Time

One Stitch at a Time

09/05/16 - Expression

”Started this email 3 times now!” I get a lot of amazing emails from this site, many which start like that, someone being brave enough to reach out with a question - not question usually - more a story.  At the start it was about gear, the stuff of climbing; but now it’s about the stuff of living.  I try and be as honest as I can...

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Lifting Shit

Lifting Shit

06/05/16 -

I know that Dave Macleod tends not to see the point in weight training or gym style training (if anyone’s not read Dave’s book Nine Out of Ten Climbers, then you should!), but I’d probably disagree, thinking that for many ‘less good’ climbers than Dave (that’s all UK climbers), some gym work could be good.  Beyond rock climbing gym...

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The Hurt of Doing

The Hurt of Doing

05/05/16 - Q&A

Hi Have you ever noticed when you run a marathon how you feel when you reach the finishing line, or when you get to the car after a long day on the hill, how that you feel you could not go another step?  I think the ability to ‘go again’ or to push on, or head back up is often what makes the difference in a lot of life’s...

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The Madness in us all

The Madness in us all

04/05/16 - Expression

In 1799 a French soldier named Pierre-François Bouchard was sent to supervise the rebuilding of a ancient Mamluk fortification needed to defend the lower reaches of the Nile from the British.  The Mamluk’s were a warrior caste that rose from Slavic slaves captured in the Balkans (Albanian as well as Greeks) by the Muslims in the 9th...

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Advice for proto Alpinists

Advice for proto Alpinists

02/05/16 - Q&A

Hi First off the most important thing to do is too tap into experience, be that a guide or someone who knows the score.  This means both watching everything they do, plus them teaching you what’s important or may be missed, why they do X and not Y.  Some people love to teach, while others just want to climb, and this applies to guides...

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No Disappointment At All.

No Disappointment At All.

30/04/16 - Expression

Disappointment is a strange thing, to be let down, to miss the shot, for your boat never to come in, or if it did, to sink before it reaches the dock of the bay.  Growing up I learnt perhaps my greatest lessons in life from my mum: the ability to deal with and shrug off such disappointment and mishap.  Her stock saying was “It’s the...

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Die on the vine

Die on the vine

28/04/16 - Expression

I’ll keep this short as I’m supposed to be working on the Bear Pit, but need to get this off my chest. People may think I’ve gone crazy, but this short blog is another one in defence of something, not of Bear Grylls, but of something even worse = The Sun.  Before you spit on the screen hear me out. This morning I saw a post of Facebook...

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In Defence of Bear Grylls

In Defence of Bear Grylls

27/04/16 - Expression

I’ve never really written anything here about Bear Grylls on my blog, which is strange as he’s a bit of an obsession of mine.  Yes I’ve been a thorn in his side on Twitter and Facebook (I once said ‘every time I slag BG I lose followers, but that the average IQ of the ones I have goes up’), but when it actually comes to writing...

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One of Us Must Know

One of Us Must Know

26/04/16 - Expression

Sometimes words rattle – no – not words, something else: a mixture of things: thoughts, ideas, memories, things that fire, that tumble, that rumble, on and on and on.  Such things – whatever they are – come loose inside a head sometimes, rattle like a stone in a shoe.  When they do it’s best not to let them rub you raw, but just...

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Contact

If you want to just drop me a line about one of my books, or you've seen me talk - or want to give me some work, then drop me a line. I also seem to be a little like the A-Team, with strangers often getting in touch for help and advice on a load of subjects, so feel free to zap me anything (be bold!).

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Speakers from the Edge

I live in Sheffield,
Great Britain,
Land of the
male stripper