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

When I was Seventeen image Dark-Half  | Nov 12, 16

When I was Seventeen

To be brave on a mountain is most often seen as a noble thing, that person someone to look up to, to aspire to be like, bravery after all the key to life, fear the lock to almost everything of any value.  Yet on a mountain, you risk very little, only your life, or a broken bone or ten, but what does it matter?  When you hang around such people, the great and fearless, look into their eyes, you’ll often find they’re not brave at all, that what you see as heroic is nothing but someone...

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White Space image Dark-Half  | Nov 11, 16

White Space

Someone asked me the other day what I meant by ‘white space’ in my story On Tunnel Mountain.  White space of course is a term used in book and magazine layout to describe areas of bare white paper, often denoting a light touch, a little confidence that less is more, gives the marks you do make more weight.  In writing and storytelling white space - for me - is the most important aspect of storytelling, it’s where all the magic and power lies, the spell that makes your words live.Here’s an example of white space...

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Cordelette Question image Gear Q&A  | Nov 10, 16

Cordelette Question

HiI’m guessing you’re talking about Dyneema cord and not 240cm slings? Well, I think even if your Dyneema cord gets worn, bent and tied a great many times, it’s still going to be strong enough (5.5mm: 13.7 Kn) compared to perlon cord (7 mm 12.4 Kn).  The main issue with Dyneema is probably the cost, while its real advantage is that it’s thinner, lighter and more compact than perlon (I would advise 7mm being the thinnest cord to use, but a lot of people do use 6mm, which is fine when new, but not when tatty, or...

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She Walks Away image Dark-Half  | Nov 09, 16

She Walks Away

“She’s got a nice body,” said Vanessa, nudging her head towards the waitress as she moved around the Banff centre tables, adding she’d seen her that morning in the swimming pool.  I instinctively felt offended, my back straightening up righteously, lemon lips in an angry pout, at such base objectification - sexist - misogynistic.  But then Vanessa’s a woman, so I got confused - cognitive dissidence they call it I’m told, that feeling, like feeling aroused by a woman on a bike, trying to pass her in your car, your base eyes on her...

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Journey to the dark side image Dark-Half  | Nov 09, 16

Journey to the dark side

The first thing I thought about this morning when I saw the news, was how friends like Lizzy Scully and Jim Perrin (and just about everyone I know) would be reacting to the shock wave of this reality.  I’ve been blogging about Trump’s win for over a year (Tank Man being an example), starting when he was nothing but the butt of our jokes.  How clever are we?  I did the same with Brexit, dared to sound like a fool and dare to write we will lose, that we are the fools here, that the...

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 Hearts Brothers and Countrymen image Dark-Half  | Nov 08, 16

Hearts Brothers and Countrymen

Robert Kennedy’s ‘Mindless Menace of Violence’ speech is one of the great speeches of the 20th century, a plea for calm and understanding, tolerance over violence, given in Cleveland the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968.  The streets were ablaze when Kennedy met a group of black leaders to discuss how they could defuse the violence, their anger leading to the accusation that Kennedy was nothing but an unreliable member of “the white establishment.” A deeply moral man, far different from his hawkish and flawed late brother John F Kennedy, he lost his temper,...

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On Tunnel Mountain image Dark-Half  | Nov 08, 16

On Tunnel Mountain

The Banff book festival. Tony introduces me and with some small applause, as I stand and walk over to the wooden podium, a beautiful piece of solid Canadian wood, my shoelaces undone. The audience, tidy, sat in neat rows, look like a good bunch, a clever bunch, not too much trouble - I hope. “I’d like to begin with a poem’ I say, which sounds like a little joke - to me - funny, out of place, as if it was spoken by a plumber about to stick his hand down your blocked toilet. No one laughed, so I...

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Manumission image Dark-Half  | Nov 06, 16


Life feels like one long argument these days, one long battle of emails and posts, of comments and drunken midnight bars.  I battle with people I love, people I respect, battle so hard even though I know it does no good, does me even worse.  Cedar Wright, a man whose great humour and fine character hides an intellect sharper than even his wit,  asks, angrily, if I’m a ‘fucking Nazi’, his anger one of disappointment, that I’m not who he thought I was, this man like him not like him at all.  The funny...

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Long Runs The Fox image Dark-Half  | Nov 01, 16

Long Runs The Fox

I first met Ricky Bell in the dust of Camp 4.  I forget the year.  Ricky is one of those people you meet in life, one-minute unknown, the next - never to be forgotten. I’ve met a lot of legends, some that knew it and weren’t, groaned under their untruth, others who were - the best - who didn’t even know it. It’s a testament to Ricky that, “I know Ricky”, would be the reply of anyone who’d ever met him, never, “I once met him”. But rarer still would be the response of,...

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Coming Home image Q&A  | Oct 30, 16

Coming Home

Hi WillSorry for the late reply (I think this is coming a year after I got your email, so if you’ve topped yourself with post climbing frustration - my apologies). I’m sat writing this on a plane that has no TV’s (an Air Canada flight that’s so old we have wooden seats and the entertainment is a guy playing the piano), so this could end up a bit rambling (I do the writing for free, but reading and editing the crap is extra), but if you pick through the garbage of my words and random...

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