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

Andy Perkins responds image Technique   | Jun 26, 16

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...

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Pot Advice image Q&A  | Jun 22, 16

Pot Advice

HiThe small pan I use these days (I think that article is about 16 years old!) is the Alpkit MytiMug 400, which makes a very good mug (at a good price) but can also be used as a pan (it has a lid).  I nest one of these inside a GSI Fairshare mug with its handle cut off (it has a hole drilled in the top with some 2mm cord to clip it off when on big walls), the two then fitting into my MSR Reactor. I find this a great system as hot water can be decanted into...

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Upside Down Cock Suck image  | Jun 20, 16

Upside Down Cock Suck

On the analytics panel on this site I can see a lot of information, from the locations of visitors,  referrals from other sites, how long people stayed, and a whole load of stuff I don’t quite understand (or can be arsed to know what it means).  I get junk mail every day saying how I can improve my site traffic but really I’m not that fussed, thinking it’s really only there for people to find for themselves. One thing I do find interesting, and love checking, is the searches box, so see what word...

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Doing a Bieber image Technique   | Jun 18, 16

Doing a Bieber

I saw a piece today on UKC about crevasse rescue, going through the basics, and only the night before someone emailed me a question of the topic (can you use a Petzl Microtraxion on a loaded rope).  And so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject of crevasses.First off I’d say that almost everything I’ve ever read on crevasse rescue is not fit for purpose.  The reason for this is that most of it are written by alpine guides or instructors, guides who primarily make a living skiing on glaciers or hauling...

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Cool image Dark-Half  | Jun 16, 16


I gave a talk a few months ago to a school in East Yorkshire.  It was a small country school, not used to climbers coming to speak to them, the kids excited that my face had been on TV once or twice.  They were doing a project on Antarctica and had built an amazing full-sized igloo out of plastic bottles, and sat and listened as I told them about my adventures.  They were a great school, the kids even noticing my trick line about not seeing any polar bears down south.  On leaving one of the...

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‘Helter-skelter image Dark-Half  | Jun 15, 16


One cold desert night in 1969 Charles Manson gathered his ‘family’ around a large fire on their ranch commune in Death Valley and shared a revelation.  He had been listening to the Beatles White album non-stop for weeks and informed them that the album was the final sign that a race war was about to break out, the truth coded into every song by these ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse, the message he himself had been preaching for years.  Manson, a violent psychopathic criminal, who had been in and out of prison all his life, told his followers they...

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Race image Literature   | Jun 14, 16


Reading about the author Annie Proulx this morning has got me into a good writing mood, but no blogs today I’m afraid, just more hard graft on the Bear Pit (I’m sat in Bray’s Campo de Fiori cafe typing this).  But I thought I would give something today, a chapter (still a draft) from the book.  Feedback welcome!The same routine: up in the dark, his dad waking him with a hard knock, then down to sweet tea and a small bowl of porridge by the fire in the kitchen.  The radio on, they...

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Ken Wilson image Dark-Half  | Jun 13, 16

Ken Wilson

I seem to write quite a few obituaries on this site, or blogs spurred on by the death of people I once knew.  One thing I think important when writing such pieces is to respect the truth of someone’s life, to not get all misty-eyed and emotional, to tell their story as you knew it, the good and the bad.  What’s the point of writing it any other way, a life more nuanced than the verse inside a card of condolence.  It’s how I’d want it written about me, and I think in...

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 Innocent as a hotdog image Dark-Half  | Jun 12, 16

Innocent as a hotdog

Facebook riles me, and I guess we’re all the same: jerked by political and social stuff, things that make me feel angry, things that make me feel sad, things that make me feel despair.  Maybe that’s why most of are addicted to it, social media like some weird David Cronenberg contraption that feeds our need to feel something, like we need to jack up on it a hundred times a day (boredom is in short supply in the 21st century, the dull pain of it the total lack of stimulus and hence feeling).It’s not surprising...

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Avoiding the Deck image  | Jun 09, 16

Avoiding the Deck

Taking a ground fall is perhaps one of the worst experiences a climber can have, worse also for the belayer and anyone unfortunate to be standing close by.  Most falls are short, and over before you know it, the rope coming tight, the fall held by the instinctive yank on the belay plate.  Most falls on trad climbs are rare for most, maybe one small fall for every 50 routes climbed, one big fall (5 to 10 metres) in every 100, the reason being trad routes tend not to be so fall off able as sport climbs (less steep, more ledgy, and...

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