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

Mera Peak Footwear Question image Q&A  | May 31, 16

Mera Peak Footwear Question

HiFirst off although some people may scoff at using very warm boots on Mera (the Spantik and G1 would be classed as high altitude boots, or for very cold climbing), pointing out the mountains been climbed in single layer leather winter boots, it’s not as daft as it seems.  People have been using very lightweight leather boots on all sorts of climbs, even on 8000-metre peaks, but then people have also summited Everest in almost nothing but their underwear.  What you can get away with one day, using speed and experience, you may not get away...

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Putting out the Bins image Dark-Half  | May 30, 16

Putting out the Bins

The bin men come on Wednesday.  We have two bins: yellow and red: recycled and un-recycled.  This being Ireland I expect they go in the same hole in the ground - but it’s the thought isn’t it - and so are taken alternately, a week apart, so as not to arise suspicion by those hassled by all that sorting and washing of tins and plastic. I’ve never been good at bin days, well not in the past, my bins never forming up in a wiggly parade with my neighbour’s, me away too much...

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What cams? image Q&A  | May 26, 16

What cams?

I probably take a slightly different approach to cams than most UK climbers, probably due to spending many years climbing the US, and also due to having done a lot of aid climbing. Someone once told me that what Mick Fowler was good at was finding protection and that always stuck with me, and so I kind of make that a priority. For me, a good climber is not one who runs it out, but who can sew up a route without getting bogged down in rope drag.Most UK climbers have a full set of cams from little finger...

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Prusic Loop as pro? image Climbing Gear Technique   | May 25, 16

Prusic Loop as pro?

I was asked last night down at the wall about the strength of prusik loops, a topic that seems to crop up from time to time.  The climber had used his prusik as an extender after running out of quickdraws.First off when it comes to cord of any diameter it’s worth having a basic formula for working out its strength.  If it’s perlon (normal accessory cord), the best method is to work out its load capacity (or safe working load), as it’s always a static cord (no stretch), and tends to be used as...

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Alpine Ultra image Gear  | May 24, 16

Alpine Ultra

I must be a nightmare for kit designers, men and woman I’ve been bumping heads with for decades now.  Most often than not a designer wants to flex their muscles, add some new-fangled idea, a wheel that’s more round, or is square so it doesn’t roll down hills, some game-changing idea that the world will flock to buy.  Being a designer in this day and age is tough, their bosses always pressing for something new.  Designers can also become a little trapped, like self-licking ice-cream’s, creating new stuff when the old stuff is...

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Drinks & Tips image Dark-Half  | May 23, 16

Drinks & Tips

“What do I write about?” is a question I get asked quite a lot, by people in search of the writing in them.  My answer is usually: “nothing at all”, adding, “but that takes years of practice”.“Read that draft of The Bear Pit,” said John, as we stood, a pile of books for me to sign on the table between us, his words as emotionally transparent as the Shipping Forecast.  “Did you?” I replied, playing it cool, while my heart swung the gap: rejection or beggy joy.  “Yeh” He replied.When you’re a writer, well...

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Is 225 grams worth it? image Q&A  | May 19, 16

Is 225 grams worth it?

HiFirst off, I’d only ever view the water-resistant shell of a bag as only being ‘food’ or ‘spilt tea’ proof, and not storm proof.  These shells are not taped and are really there to stop the down from sucking in water like a Pertex shell does (once its DWR wears off).  These shells work well in damp tents, bothies and snow holes, but find yourself on an alpine route and you’ll quickly feel extremely exposed.  Get caught in a storm and you’ll be fucked!  A bivy bag provides more than just storm...

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Sinead O’Connor image Dark-Half  | May 18, 16

Sinead O’Connor

We drive through the midnight canyons, back to the Valley, red wine in our bellies, songs in our ears.  Music starts and stops, killed dead at half a track, killed dead at the first bar, voted down and voted off.  It was the usual iPod jukebox of “Listen to this” and “what’s this shit?”.  From the back, Cian asks for bands we don’t have, younger than us, bands we don’t even know.  Songs appear that are greeted like lost loves, old lovers long missed, only to disappoint, aged by time and soon disregarded....

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Until it hurts no more image Dark-Half  | May 15, 16

Until it hurts no more

I once joked, standing by the kettle, that I could write a book about relationships.  It was one of those things I say, threaded to a thought, that comes with all the thinking, weight and suddenness as an unexpected sneeze.  The girl I was speaking to burst out laughing at this, at hearing me say something so obviously stupid, so un-self-aware, spraying tea on me as she burst out laughing in the kitchen.  I stood there looking at the girl, feeling sad, that she thought me such an idiot, that girl my girlfriend then, partner, lover -...

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Rap and Trail Lines image Gear  | May 13, 16

Rap and Trail Lines

Rap cords or trail lines have been around a very long time,  as a second skinny rope to a thicker single rope and used primarily for abseiling (and sometimes light hauling).  These ropes have ranged from 3mm to 8mm and in the past were most usually just full-length accessory cord, so static and not suitable for falls.  These lines were primarily a feature of North American climbing which developed its standard techniques in Yosemite, where a single rope was the standard, and a haul line carried on the back of the harness (fine most routes followed straight...

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