An eclectic mix of writing, covering climbing equipment, technique, life & death (and all the stuff inbetween).
How does a clock tick?
Have you ever taken a moment to consider how it is that a watch, something so small, just a pebble on your wrist, can make so much noise? Well, have you?“If I ever saw your moron ass on the streets I would kick your ass!”What does perfection really look like?So many questions. I’m sorry, but again what is perfection? It’s a simple question but who knows? Is it when nothing more can be added, nothing more can be taken away. That sounds right. That’s what I read in a book...read more⟶
From one writer to another
The problem is you think you have a voice, but you don’t. You think you have your own thoughts and ideas, but you don’t. You think you’re a radical, that the world is against you and your politics, but really you’re a conformist.You think the world needs to catch you up, that it’s stupid, immoral, corrupt and bankrupt, when in fact the world you really wish to catch, of radical thought, ideas that are not dead, real creative expression, has passed you by because it’s obvious you have no clue what...read more⟶
Chongo by the power
“I wake each morning filled with hate,” said Chongo as I stood to leave the table, a wincing self-indictment the punch line to the ‘stupidity’ and ‘obedience’ of his fellow Americans, sat on tables all around us in the Yosemite Lodge cafeteria, shovelling down their pancakes before hitting the trail. I laughed like it was a joke, or if not a joke, then so that in laughing I’d take some of the edge of the idea of such a man as this being filled with such nasty sentiment. But Chongo didn’t parry my smile with another,...read more⟶
Sitting on a plane, alone, heading for yet another solo trip to Yosemite, it’s funny to answer this question as one of the main reasons for solo climbing is this very question!Stalin used to say, “No people - no problem”, and this is most definitely true on a mountain trip or expedition. People are generally always the weak link, and it’s them that tends to break, not gear (although they may well blame gear) or the weather (ditto). The ability to select the right people to climb with (that includes yourself), and then to manage...read more⟶
The Night Swim
We shuffled down the steep trail in the gloom, sore toes blindly knocking into stumps and stones, six hundred metres sore. Up the Chief we’d gone, slab and crack and things in between. We stubbornly leave off our torches, that’s what we’re like, her and me, as bad as each other, no doubt leading each other astray, but who wants to live the opposite - whatever that’s called. Instead of seeing where we are going, we wear our head torches like 80’s tennis super stars, just a place to hold the sweat, seeing...read more⟶
First time in the Alps
HiThanks for the questions. I’ll try and answer each one in turn as best as I can.Should you hire a guide? Well I went to the alps twice and came back with almost nothing done on both trips (both winter trips) in terms of routes climbed, but if I’d been able to afford a guide I’d have climbed a lot of routes and avoided a lot of mistakes. And yet each trip provided the foundation of later trips which were successful, teaching me how to survive in the alps in winter (open bivys,...read more⟶
My ex-wife Mandy hates the word - or words - ‘num-num-num’, I don’t know why, but can guess, after all, who can really get away with saying such a thing except a muppet. She hates a lot of other things as well, like tapping, or doors that aren’t clicked shut, but that word, or words, is high on her list. Being a man of words I have a few I don’t like, the word ‘blessed’ one that I find irritating, although I’m not sure why (I can forgive one, no more than that). ...read more⟶
Sooner than you think….
Inhibitions are like the bones in a creature. You pull all the bones out and you get a floppy jelly. – Nigel KnealeI want to share a video with you, Nigel Kneale’s 1968 film The Year of the Sex Olympics, probably one of the most prothetic TV programs ever made, and even in these days full of shock and porn this still has the ability to really move and disturb (Kneale also wrote the Quatermass films and the terrifying The Stone Tapes). I share this because I think that maybe we’re sick of words at the moment,...read more⟶
In ancient Rome, those too poor to pay for burial were cast into the open pits of the Potter’s field on the Esquiline Hill, out beyond the noble walls of Rome. The bodies that rotted there, piled up like old fruit, were the paupers, riffraff and the executed, slaves and those killed in the colosseum, those dead or nearly dead from plague and sickness. On top of these poor bloated souls was cast Rome’s garbage, its dead animals, its filth. Those with some money pooled their resources to afford some small dignity, while the rich...read more⟶
Andy Perkins responds
I had a great response to my crevasse rescue blog (Doing a Bieber) today from IFMGA Chamonix guide Andy Perkins. I guess re-reading what I wrote it may well look like an attack on traditional instruction, when in fact my point was that too many climbers only do the basics and leave it there (it was also focused on climbers, not skiers). My comments seen to have been broken for a while (sorry, but mended now), so here’s Andy’s great response.Hi AndyNice piece of writing. The usual entertaining provocative stuff we all know and...read more⟶