blog

An eclectic mix of writing, covering climbing equipment, technique, life & death (and all the stuff inbetween).


The Race Vest, a pre-history image Gear  | Oct 17, 21

The Race Vest, a pre-history

“The King hath … declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes which he will never alter. It will be a vest.”Samuel Pepys (1666)At one time, in the UK, a race vest was a string wife-beater, worn by odd people who ran – or Jimmy Saville – a niche item of clothing seldom seen on the racks of your local sports shop, as real men played football or rugby (and women played netball or hokey). The cult of running - in the UK at least - really began in the 1980s, no doubt spurred on by the launch of the London...

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EP 27 - Strength Training image Podcast  | Sep 10, 21

EP 27 - Strength Training

Andy Kirkpatrick talks about strength training, Steve House, Mark Rippetoe and Pavel Tsatsouline.Warning: this episode contains strong language.Music by Pogo

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Sticking Plaster image Technique   | Sep 06, 21

Sticking Plaster

Thoughts on the painful subject of first aid

I got an email this week from my friend James, who lives in Switzerland:“Last week my wife tripped over in the mountains…. as she was about to get up, she looked down and noticed she was staring at her open kneecap. Game over for her first 50km ultramarathon event. (three stitches, no other damage thankfully, so on track for a quick recovery).The event organisers got her off the mountain… the guy who picked her up later explained he was mortified to not have a single bit of first aid gear on him… shockingly silly for a trained ‘sapier...

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Andy Kirkpatrick - Mind Your Head: Holidays from Hell image Climbing  | Aug 29, 21

Andy Kirkpatrick - Mind Your Head: Holidays from Hell

Back on Tour!

The stars have aligned once again and so it’s time to take the Andy show on tour, visiting towns and cities up and down the UK (from Inverness to Exeter, hopefully not one night after the other).As usual the title is typically vague, but the show itself fills in the adventures and misadventures I’ve been on since my last tour in 2018: spending three months traveling in Africa, going to live in the Middle East, a trip to climb Denali in winter (I’ve been from -50 degrees to +50 degrees in the same year).Through tales of gun...

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The T-Shirt image Clothing  | Aug 25, 21

The T-Shirt

Where does the t-shirt lie in terms of performance outdoor gear?

When beginning a journey into performance clothing, it’s worth starting at the bottom, the fundamentals, the basic everyday stuff.The reason is essential to understand why things are the way they are - as in, the heel on your shoes is a throwback to a time in which they had to lock into a horses stirrups - as this allows you to identify what’s essential and what can be ignored, or designed out and left behind.For this reason, I’m going to start with perhaps the most ubiquitous item of clothing of the modern period, the t-shirt. ...

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Gully Learning image Q&A  | Aug 12, 21

Gully Learning

Hi Blair!That’s a great story and glad you’re still in one piece! What’s best about it is how you’re able to identify what you’re learning and see how it works in the real world, its benefits etc (ie you didn’t break both your legs). It’s also good to take the things you learn and mix them up with what you know, to mix and tweak and adjust and make them your own (and o course to pass them on to other people when you can, especially the Prusik backup).I suspect you...

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VBL Hack image Gear  | Jul 04, 21

VBL Hack

The use of a vapour barrier layer (VBL) within a clothing system, used to block moisture from degrading insulation, is well established in socks. Be they plastic bags or dedicated silicone nylon socks, VBL socks are a valuable tool in mitigating cold injuries, even in these days of high tech and super warm third generation mountain books, like the Sportiva Olympus Mons. Nevertheless, the use of a VBL in other clothing is less well established or even fully understood, which is unfortunate, as employing the concept for other vital body parts can really boost one’s survivability, doubly so in...

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Crawl, Walk, Run image Climbing  | Jun 02, 21

Crawl, Walk, Run

There’s a famous climbing story in which a young climber approaches a big wall legend as he’s drinking in Yosemite’s Mountian Room bar, and asks for advice on how to become a big wall legend. The gnarled and sunbleached Master, skin like leather, beer no doubt held in a monster scared paw, begins by advising the young man to begin a long apprenticeship.Paraphrasing, he tells the young climber to start on easy single pitch climbs, build up his skills until he’d tackled a couple of benchmark routes in the valley. Get good on slabs...

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Pulks Tracers image Technique   | May 24, 21

Pulks Tracers

Hi Scott.This is one of those questions where you can have a very simple short answer, or, a very long and complex one, with both being equally valid. I’ll give you both.The short answer Having hauled pulks of various designs over hundreds of miles, up and down mountains and glaciers, forest, field and road, the simple answer is that just about any set-up will work, from a strand of bailing twin to a dedicated solid glass fibre set up, but what you should really focus more on how you pack the pulk. This is pretty simple: just...

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Oh Shit Award #8 image Climbing  | May 20, 21

Oh Shit Award #8

I had a friend who once cut his thumb off while clearing a fouled up lawnmower, another who had his arm twisted off by a fouled up yacht propeller, another who shot himself in the thigh. Each injury was the result of a momentary lapse of something: concentration, caution, process, clarity, reason, fear. Each accident was a perfect example of an ‘Oh Shit’ moment.Generally, these events come down to being distracted by something or other, a lack of necessary focus and attention - always less important than not dying or getting fucked up - when what you’re doing...

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