blog

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


Oh Shit Award #7 image Climbing  | May 07, 21

Oh Shit Award #7

The following Oh Shit Award is another simple one, namely that you should never skip protection just because the terrain is easy, 3rd class, or ‘scrambling’. Many is the time when I’ve soloed up easy ground, heading for the meat of the pitch, only to find there’s no gear once you’re at said meat, which means you’re free soloing unless you find a bit of humility and down climb and place some gear. But sometimes, climbing back down is not an option…Last summer I almost killed myself falling off a trad route without putting any...

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Now Get Out of That #2 image Technique   | May 04, 21

Now Get Out of That #2

Working through climbing problems

In the second part of this series on problem-solving (part one here), we return to Emma and Ryan, high on a climb, faced with a tricky set of moves off a ledge, one that is more dangerous for the second than the leader (if the second falls off they will have a dangerous swing into a corner).In this version of the scenario, I’ve made life much easier for Emma and Ryan by giving the team double ropes to play with.Below I’ll set up several ways to deal with the problem.Traditional back rope #1 Here, Emma – who...

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Dom image Dark-Half  | May 01, 21

Dom

I’ve never been one to be starstruck, even meeting people like Johnny Depp, most stars seeming to me to just be pretty normal really (I was a little struck by James Fox - but only because I’d watch Performance countless times, being a huge fan of Nicolas Roeg).I guess I might be more star-struck if I was to meet someone like Werner Herzog, or perhaps Kubrick but not actors. Maybe this is because I’m a climber, and have met people like Jim Donini, Doug Scott, Silvo Karo, Rolando Garibotti, people whose lives and their character are...

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Tinkerers image Gear  | Apr 30, 21

Tinkerers

The clothing we use can be divided up between performance, utilitarian, and ceremonial. Think a suit of Samurai armour, a sackcloth smock, and a cape made from fox teeth, or a pair of Patagonia guide pants, a pair of Walmart Dickies work trousers (made in a sweatshop), and a pair of Hiutdenim organic jeans (not made in a sweatshop, but Cardigan, Wales). This is an important idea to hold in your head when buying gear, in that you need to ask what kind of clothing you’re looking at, as the market is awash with ‘outdoor’ clothing when 95% of it...

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Bang image Gear  | Apr 30, 21

Bang

Someone asked me yesterday, “what’s the biggest bang for your buck” when it comes to boosting your comfort; basically, how can I squeeze more out of what I’ve got without spending a fortune on Gucci kit.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣Well, as I’ve written on here before, people tend to have their priorities ‘arse about tit’, in that they invest the greatest amount of thought and money in the least important layer of clothing, and the least on the most important, i.e, you have a $500 Arcteryx jacket and a $20 base layer from Aldi.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣Remember that comfort starts with you, inside...

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Leg Warmers image Gear  | Apr 30, 21

Leg Warmers

The leg warmer concept seems to have ended up as a funny 80’s footnote, a bit of joke clothing, used by dance instructors and ballet divas. Really, just as wristovers and arm warmers are a fantastic idea, allowing you to fine-tune your insulation, so are leg warmers. The ones featured here are Swedish army leg warmers, designed to both create some form of seal over the tops of your boots, as well as increase warmth (when worn under your trousers). The use of some warm thermal pants, and a set of power-stretch leg warmers, that can be pushed down around...

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Door image Gear  | Apr 30, 21

Door

What can you learn from a photo?

What can you learn in a picture? This snow hole door cover is a good example of sewing up a solution to a problem, why it’s always worth having a sewing machine and a store of inexpensive ripstop, some webbing in your house (as well as fleece, pile, power-stretch, Cordura, Cuban fibre, Pertex, 3D mesh, Climashield, X-pac etc!).The door weighs nothing and is designed to fit over both vertical and horizontal entrances (pits/trenches). It features loops all around its edges, allowing it to be secured by stakes or wands, and has pockets along its bottom that holds...

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Dry image Technique   | Apr 30, 21

Dry

Drying kit in your sleeping bag

One subject that often comes up, is the wearing of clothes in your sleeping bag.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣Now I could write several chapters on this, but a brief breakdown would go like this:⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣Never wear any wet or damp clothes inside your sleeping bag, be that socks or underwear or anything. Also be aware that moisture that is held in your clothes – that is at body temperature – will be invisible until it cools (this is why you can go to bed warm, and then get really cold).⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣If you have damp clothes, then you should arrange them either over the top of...

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Oh Shit Award #6 image Climbing  | Apr 27, 21

Oh Shit Award #6

The value of training (and back-up ropes).

The following Oh Shit Award is a great example of many things, including the value in training in a safe environment (rather than improvising or trying to remember something you once read in a dangerous one), investing in various back-ups, fail-safes and safety nets in order to learn and practice without killing yourself. Ultimately, it also demonstrates how sometimes we can be lulled into a false sense of security, or that “we’re just practising for something potentially dangerous”, can be just that.This happened in a small stone quarry in Belgium that is currently being developed (bolted) as a...

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Now Get Out of That #1 image Technique   | Apr 26, 21

Now Get Out of That #1

Working through climbing problems

One of the best tools in a climber’s arsenal is visualisation, the ability to create a simulation of an event that has yet to happen – or – replay a past event, only this time as its architect. In either case, we create a virtual reality in our minds, a scenario, or multiple scenarios, that we can run over and over, sometimes in a split second, other times over days, weeks, years or decades (it can often take half a lifetime of endlessly re-runs and second-guessing of a traumatic event until you finally come to terms with it, and just accept...

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