blog

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


Ovals image Gear  | Apr 11, 21

Ovals

I believe - if you go back down into the sands of time - that I’m one of the earliest cheerleaders for racking wires on ovals (I’m thinking mid 90’s pieces in High magazine). Of course, it wasn’t my idea, but Dick Turnbull’s at Outside, but for years people thought it was a shit idea, and that you just dropped all your wires.The idea though, with an oval,  was that the wires don’t bunch up in the nose like a D krab, and so sit nicer and are easier to place, and twenty...

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Suffer image Climbing  | Apr 11, 21

Suffer

From the moment I met Vanessa, she’s been telling me how much she hates the cold. Part of this was that - like many people - she didn’t know how to dress appropriately - wore too many clothes when she was moving and had no dry clothes to put on when she stopped. I knew it wasn’t that she was just soft, as I’d watched her swim across many a cold lake, including Ellery lake in the Sierra - with ice in it - and jumped into many a cold winter sea.Irish people are creations...

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Street Children image Dark-Half  | Apr 11, 21

Street Children

My dad tells a funny story about working in India with street children. He was working for a charity that did outward bound stuff with companies and then used the money to help street kids, but one day a group of kids arrived at the centre, and it was my dad’s job to take them out rock climbing.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣The kids piled into a minibus and my dad - being in full health and safety instructor mode - told them to put on their seat belts. But instead of doing as they were told, the kids just burst out laughing....

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EA312 image Dark-Half  | Apr 11, 21

EA312

Someone once told me never to underestimate your audience, which although an uphill task at times (someone also said my problem was I was cleverer than people think, which means I have to ‘dumb up’), has paid dividends so far.Today my kids asked what the trick was in making a living from your ‘art’ (they think I swan around doing fuck all), and after thinking it over I thought that it was about trying - yes trying - to exceed expectations, both of your audiences and your own (if people only think you’re just a dumb chav rock...

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Queen image Dark-Half  | Apr 10, 21

Queen

This could be an image of a woman in a bikini, an easy like, instead it’s a woman with a 60lb pack, but a hook no less. Words like ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’ mean little with a pack on your back, words I don’t much like - let people find their own way, don’t try and force or own it, or make everything a revolutionary act.I’ve a punk sensibility - it used to be cool to rebel and not conform - ‘God save the Queen’ and all that - to fight the status quo - an...

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Oh Shit Award #4 image Climbing  | Apr 10, 21

Oh Shit Award #4

Although I literally wrote the book on the subject, the dark art of rope soloing scares the shit out of me.A while back I joined the rope soloing Facebook group, but after a few months, I had to leave, because although there were some solid people on there, it also attracted a lot of crazy dangerous people (a danger to themselves, and a danger to anyone who might listen to them).The reason for writing Me, Myself & I, was to attempt to share what I’d learnt over five solo ascents of El Cap, as well as on...

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Q&A: 7.5 mm rope question image Q&A  | Apr 09, 21

Q&A: 7.5 mm rope question

Hi GabrielThis is a great question, as it leads down several interesting paths, and one worth giving some thought to.First off, you’re right; if a single strand of 7.5 mm rope is safe for the leader to fall on, then it’s also fine for a second to fall on, although – if the belayer is doing their job – no follower is going to be falling, only hanging.If the second was to actually have a significant fall while climbing, it would be a serious error on the part of both the belayer (because they forgot that’s what...

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THE ABSEIL KNOT Part 2 image Technique   | Apr 08, 21

THE ABSEIL KNOT Part 2

Here’s part two of the abseil knot section of my book Down. It would be great if people could share this as widely as possible.Inline Knots The following knots are all high strength and although less effective in rappel than the OOB, are worth learning and understanding.Single Fisherman’s (Fig 159) A very simple and compact knot, that although looking weak, is actually very strong. Nevertheless, such a simple knot does not inspire confidence and can become welded together, so the Double Fisherman’s is generally used instead.Figure 159: Single Fisherman’s knotDouble Fisherman’s (Fig 160) A...

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Self Lining Question image Q&A  | Apr 07, 21

Self Lining Question

Disclaimer. Unfortunately, we’re living in an age in which any advice I give is going to result in me being told off by manufactures and those more qualified and badged to tell you what to do, as well as slandered on forums for attempted murder - so - this is not safety advice (visit Petzl’s site for the safety method), but simply how I approach the subject. It’s also worth knowing there is no perfect or set or safe way to do this, and even ‘the Petzl way’ can see your sorry ass being put into the...

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God to Mortal image Climbing  | Apr 06, 21

God to Mortal

I’ve been following kayaker Erik Boomer since he carried out a human-powered circumnavigation of Ellesmere with legendary adventurer Jon Turk in 2011 (see story here on Nat Geo). Anyone who’s read Jon’s book ‘Cold Oceans’ knows that signing up for any trip with Jon is like signing up for a trip with Ernest Shackleton, that trip living its epic expectations (Jon had also kayaked from Japan to Alaska!). Since then Erik kept cropping up on my radar, with his film ‘Into Twin Galaxies’: the crossing of Greenland via skis, kites and kayaks, winning many awards in 2016. It seemed...

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