18 September 2019
In the second part of this series (part one here), I’m going to go through the Nose pitch by pitch. This is not going to be placement by placement (most are the same anyway), or blow by blow, but more a heads up on what to expect. If you don’t want to spoil your onsight, then look away now! Topos Before I start, I should note that there are dozens and dozens of topos for the Nose, both online and in guide books. Some are very...
12 September 2019
As I’ve got older, the more I’ve moved towards air mats, both for improved comfort, and because I can fit the mat into a much smaller space in my pack (both good for climbing and travel). For the last two years I’ve been using a @Thermarest Neoair Xlite, and I’ve done over 400 nights on it, including seven big walls, seven week on Denali in...
12 September 2019
When using a small compact camera (the smaller and slimmer the better), you can either stow it in a pocket, hang it around your neck and shoulder on a cord (don’t hang it around your neck), or in a small pouch (clipped to your harness or rucksack, or on it’s on sling). Having dropped a few cameras, and seeing partners drop cameras, I always...
12 September 2019
Learning to climb a rope is a skill all climbers should learn, which like learning to change a tire, is a skill you might never have to use (but you need to know). Start at the climbing wall, climbing a rope on a top rope, so you don’t have to worry about transitioning from ascending to descending yet. Begin on a slab and go through the following...
12 September 2019
#365ClimbTips #2 In really hot weather (like scorching hot), wear loose clothing that covers your whole body. Look at what the locals wear, which tends not to be board shorts and a pump vest, but clothing that is loose and full of air. The idea is to create an insulating layer of air which will have a high moisture content (sweat), which when...
10 September 2019
Although you cannot take climbing hardware or a rope in your cabin baggage, you can take all your soft gear, such as your harness, chalk bag (sans chalk) slings, lanyards, boots, helmet etc. You can also bring some heavier lockers and krabs by clipping then into bags like accessory krabs (they look less suspicious on the outside), plus they can do...
10 September 2019
I did an interview with Tom Livingstone over on the chalkbloc site last week, covering big walls, public speaking and being a contrarian (AKA telling the true). You can read the interview here.
06 September 2019
Climbing: The Nose: a guide
In 2014 I wrote a piece for UKC, a 5000 word monster, on how to climb the Nose on El cap. The piece, which has been read over 65,000 times, was based on two ascents of the Nose (as well as twenty or so other walls). Since then I’ve climbed the Nose a further three times, including a stormy winter ascent, so I thought it might be worth revisiting...
04 September 2019
Wow, that’s a loaded question (no pun intended). Many people will have strong opinions on knee pain; something they struggle with every day; restricting what they can do; stopping them doing what they love. I was lucky, in that growing up, I met quite a few older climbers with knee troubles, something they put down to carrying too many heavy...
02 September 2019
Q&A: A Hunk of Cold Metal
Hi This is probably my number one question, so I’ll try and answer it in a way that’ll hopefully make sense to others: Was the Silent Partner the best soloing device? Is the SIlent Partner better? Well the answer is yes it was, with the emphasis on the ‘was’. The SP was designed from the ground up as a rope soloing belay device, which...
29 August 2019
Q&A: What Harness?
Thanks for the question! Harness selection can be a little over-complex at times, with buyers getting bogged down in details that aren’t really that important in the real world, but ignoring - or being unaware - of things that are really important. I started writing this as Vanessa gets her hair cut, intending it to be a short response, but...
28 August 2019
Opinion: X Wankers
I often joke about Coffee Wankers, the kinds of people who have apps on their phones that tell them to drive five hours to get the perfect cup of coffee; people who think you’re a barbarian for adding milk and sugar (they call that soup); who wake you up at 6am grinding their own fucking coffee beans; people who are generally either grumpy...
25 August 2019
Q&A: Dating Climbers?
Hi I think I’m the last man on the planet to be giving relationship advice (I’m better at stoves and bird beaks), but here goes: My dad, a wise man, when asked a question like yours, would probably say, “that sounds hard, good luck with that”. This kind of answer is annoying at first, as it sucks the oxygen out of the...
23 August 2019
Opinion: Alone at Sea
Late in his voyage across the Atlantic in 1956, solo and in an 11 foot Klepper kayak, Hannes Lindemann was caught in a massive storm, and capsized by a giant wave. In the water, in the dark, but tied to his upturned kayak, Lindemann crawled on top and lay there exposed to the wind and the storm. Getting colder and colder, he realised...
21 August 2019
Climbing: Hand Bolting
The following is a chapter from my big wall bible Higher Education. The knowledge of how and why bolts and rivets are employed on a big wall is of vital importance, whether you’re making a first ascent or the hundredth ascent. All teams will attempt to keep the number of bolts and rivets to an absolute minimum - the hole count - knowing that to...
18 August 2019
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...
13 August 2019
Q&A: The Crapness Ceiling
Thanks for the email, and although I can hear James Mchaffie twitter as I type this (questioning how I’d know anything about E1s), I’ll try to respond. Before I bang out some ideas, I need to own up to the fact that James would be right. I’ve never been a great rock climber, and at best I’ve been an E3 climber. I’ve...
09 August 2019
Hi, I’m guessing we’re talking about general climbing here, and some aiding and big wall climbing, which makes things a little easier. Having used just about every lanyard on the market just about, here are my thoughts. What’s A Lanyard For? This might sound like a dumb question, but I see a lot of people with lanyards clipped to...
06 August 2019
900 second blog: Last Cup
The Russians believe you should never begin a journey until you’ve had a final cup of tea, as in waiting for the water to boil, the tea too cool, and be sipped, you might remember something you’ve forgotten. I would add that this also applies to retreat, that what seems unavoidable, even desirable, might feel different after a brew.