Latest Post

05 November 2019

Little Anita Needs to Fly

Where dreams can lead

I probably get two messages a day from someone who wants to do the climb, or trip, of their lives; to climb a big wall, to pack in a job they hate and go somewhere wild, dreams big and small, some doable, some less so. The message I got from Anita from Romania was sort of typical, someone who wanted to climb El Cap, but really had zero experience of big wall climbing, only a copy of my book Higher Education. What stood out in her email was...

“Tia Maria and Orange Juice”

31 October 2019

Conversations : “Tia Maria and Orange Juice”

The following conversation with the award-winning poet, author, climber, runner and mother, Helen Mort, was carried out over two months via email. I should warn those looking for fast food words that you won’t find them here, and that is probably something to consume over several sittings, being over 8000 words long. As with the last...

Marieke Vervoort

24 October 2019

Opinion: Marieke Vervoort

I had a period in my life when I went to a lot of para events, and so I saw Marieke Vervoort around, always with her dog. Her story can be viewed as being tragic – because it was – but it was also heroic, like tragic lives can be.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣Each of us is given our measure of life and left to do with it as we wish. A few gobble it up all too...

 “Learning lessons never ends”

22 October 2019

Conversations : “Learning lessons never ends”

The following is a long conversation with the UK climber Hazel Findlay, a conversation that took place over a month, via email, and so is very wide-ranging; covering topics such as truth and lies, stoicism, and making money as a full-time climber. Be warned, this is not a Q&A, where Hazel is selling you something, or directly about climbing,...

Ashtray Wasp

10 October 2019

Opinion: Ashtray Wasp

Anyone who’s watched my stand up show “Inappropriate Climbing” on Youtube, will know I was told my son had some form of attention deficit disorder, and I was pressured into agreeing to – basically – drug him. My theory is the people in charge are suffering from AiDD, which is Attention to Deviance Disorder, and they run everything,...

Escape Back to Reality

09 October 2019

Opinion: Escape Back to Reality

How does one defend outdoor communities: climbers, walkers, kayakers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, and those beyond, such as Saturday morning Park Runners, cyclists, triathletes, trainspotters, against the charges of economic privilege, ‘whiteness’, and that these communities both consciously and unconsciously exclude minorities? If...

Fan mail

26 September 2019

Opinion: Fan mail

This is a friendly message to all the pros, the sponsored climbers, filmmakers, photographers, skiers, BASE jumpers, outdoor brands, and outdoor influencers. We’ve been following you, we the general public, for a very long time, watched you on Instagram, read you on Twitter and Facebook, watching your videos on Youtube; in fact, we’ve...


23 September 2019

Climbing: Crook

The human body is a strange thing; an instrument that can be hard to read. This photo is of me, traversing around Mount Kenya, from the MCK hut – where we’d been based for about ten days – to the Shipton hut side. We’d already spent three nights high on Mount Kenya, having tried the Grand Traverse, so I should have been well acclimatized....


23 September 2019

Climbing: Arrested

I learnt to ice axe arrest when I was about fifteen, a five-minute lesson on some winter hill near Ben Nevis. It was very basic instruction, given to me and my brother by my father: slide on your ass, roll over onto your axe, stop. There was some conversation about which way to hold your axe, pick forward or pick backwards, but my dad being my dad,...


19 September 2019

#365ClimbTips: #6

One reason why the Mongol Horde were so effective, is that they could travel very lightly, free of the slowing and vunrable baggage trains most armies needed. Each soldier had two horses, so one horse was always rested, and only required grass and water to survive. The soldier would live on a form of ‘blood tea’, drinking the blood of the horse...

Spoiler Alert!

18 September 2019

Climbing: Spoiler Alert!
Part 2

In the second part of this series (part one here), I’m going to go through the Nose pitch by pitch. This is not going to be placement by placement (most are the same anyway), or blow by blow, but more a heads up on what to expect. If you don’t want to spoil your onsight, then look away now! Topos Before I start, I should note that...


12 September 2019

#365ClimbTips: #5

As I’ve got older, the more I’ve moved towards air mats, both for improved comfort, and because I can fit the mat into a much smaller space in my pack (both good for climbing and travel). For the last two years I’ve been using a @Thermarest Neoair Xlite, and I’ve done over 400 nights on it, including seven big walls, seven week on Denali in...


12 September 2019

#365ClimbTips: #4

When using a small compact camera (the smaller and slimmer the better), you can either stow it in a pocket, hang it around your neck and shoulder on a cord (don’t hang it around your neck), or in a small pouch (clipped to your harness or rucksack, or on it’s on sling). Having dropped a few cameras, and seeing partners drop cameras, I always...


12 September 2019

#365ClimbTips: #3

Learning to climb a rope is a skill all climbers should learn, which like learning to change a tire, is a skill you might never have to use (but you need to know). Start at the climbing wall, climbing a rope on a top rope, so you don’t have to worry about transitioning from ascending to descending yet. Begin on a slab and go through the following...


12 September 2019

#365ClimbTips: #2

#365ClimbTips #2 In really hot weather (like scorching hot), wear loose clothing that covers your whole body. Look at what the locals wear, which tends not to be board shorts and a pump vest, but clothing that is loose and full of air. The idea is to create an insulating layer of air which will have a high moisture content (sweat), which when...


10 September 2019

#365ClimbTips: #1

Although you cannot take climbing hardware or a rope in your cabin baggage, you can take all your soft gear, such as your harness, chalk bag (sans chalk) slings, lanyards, boots, helmet etc. You can also bring some heavier lockers and krabs by clipping then into bags like accessory krabs (they look less suspicious on the outside), plus they can do...

Chakboc Interview

10 September 2019

: Chakboc Interview

I did an interview with Tom Livingstone over on the chalkbloc site last week, covering big walls, public speaking and being a contrarian (AKA telling the true). You can read the interview here.

The Nose: a guide

06 September 2019

Climbing: The Nose: a guide
Part 1

In 2014 I wrote a piece for UKC, a 5000 word monster, on how to climb the Nose on El cap. The piece, which has been read over 65,000 times, was based on two ascents of the Nose (as well as twenty or so other walls). Since then I’ve climbed the Nose a further three times, including a stormy winter ascent, so I thought it might be worth revisiting...


04 September 2019

Q&A: Knees

Wow, that’s a loaded question (no pun intended). Many people will have strong opinions on knee pain; something they struggle with every day; restricting what they can do; stopping them doing what they love. I was lucky, in that growing up, I met quite a few older climbers with knee troubles, something they put down to carrying too many heavy...