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

One Stitch at a Time image Dark-Half  | May 09, 16

One Stitch at a Time

“Started this email 3 times now!”I get a lot of amazing emails from this site, many of which start like that, someone being brave enough to reach out with a question - not question usually - more a story.  At the start it was about gear, the stuff of climbing; but now it’s about the stuff of living.  I try and be as honest as I can in what I say here, try and isolate some truth in my life that makes that life make sense to me (that’s what this sites about really).  And...

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Lifting Shit image  | May 06, 16

Lifting Shit

I know that Dave Macleod tends not to see the point in weight training or gym style training (if anyone’s not read Dave’s book Nine Out of Ten Climbers, then you should!), but I’d probably disagree, thinking that for many ‘less good’ climbers than Dave (that’s all UK climbers), some gym work could be good.  Beyond rock climbing gym work is 100% beneficial (if you do it right), and definitely needs to be on the radar of alpinists, winter climbers,  mountaineers or those going on expeditions.If you can climb every day, or most days,...

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The Hurt of Doing image Q&A  | May 05, 16

The Hurt of Doing

HiHave you ever noticed when you run a marathon how you feel when you reach the finishing line, or when you get to the car after a long day on the hill, how that you feel you could not go another step?  I think the ability to ‘go again’ or to push on, or head back up is often what makes the difference in a lot of life’s challenges.  What you do when the car’s not there, or the finish line five hundred metres further down the road, or when you find your tent has...

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The Madness in us all image Dark-Half  | May 04, 16

The Madness in us all

In 1799 a French soldier named Pierre-François Bouchard was sent to supervise the rebuilding of an ancient Mamluk fortification needed to defend the lower reaches of the Nile from the British.  The Mamluk’s were a warrior caste that rose from Slavic slaves captured in the Balkans (Albanian as well as Greeks) by the Muslims in the 9th century (the caliphate used a system called a ‘blood tax’ where Slavic children had to hand over, but most of the Mamlucks came from a period known as the “harvesting of the steppe”).  Being a warrior class the Mamlucks became...

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Advice for proto Alpinists image Q&A  | May 02, 16

Advice for proto Alpinists

HiFirst off the most important thing to do is to tap into experience, be that a guide or someone who knows the score.  This means both watching everything they do, plus them teaching you what’s important or maybe missed, why they do X and not Y.  Some people love to teach, while others just want to climb, and this applies to guides just as much as mates.  Ask a guide to climb Mont Blanc and they’ll just focus on getting your ass up and down the mountain, that same if you go the North...

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No Disappointment At All. image Dark-Half  | Apr 30, 16

No Disappointment At All.

Disappointment is a strange thing, to be let down, to miss the shot, for your boat never to come in, or if it did, to sink before it reaches the dock of the bay.  Growing up I learnt perhaps my greatest lessons in life from my mum: the ability to deal with and shrug off such disappointment and mishap.  Her stock saying was “It’s the story of my life” whenever some calamity occurred, which it often did, her life one that has been tragic at times.  Some of her problems came from a long period of...

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Die on the vine image Dark-Half  | Apr 28, 16

Die on the vine

I’ll keep this short as I’m supposed to be working on the Bear Pit, but need to get this off my chest.People may think I’ve gone crazy, but this short blog is another one in defence of something, not of Bear Grylls, but of something even worse = The Sun.  Before you spit on the screen hear me out.This morning I saw a post of Facebook about a petition to ban the Sun, to close it down,14,000 people have signed the petition already.  It was one of those brainers, to click and sign and...

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One of Us Must Know image Dark-Half  | Apr 26, 16

One of Us Must Know

Sometimes words rattle – no – not words, something else: a mixture of things: thoughts, ideas, memories, things that fire, that tumble, that rumble, on and on and on.  Such things – whatever they are – come loose inside ahead sometimes, rattle like a stone in a shoe.  When they do it’s best not to let them rub you raw, but just write them out.

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Slowed to a stop image Dark-Half  | Apr 22, 16

Slowed to a stop

I’m heading home on Sunday, pretty much on the go for the last six weeks - six weeks that feels like twelve.  Going away is always good, but sometimes going home is better, this being one of the first trips where I’ve ever really felt homesick.  Yes I know that’s disingenuous to a lifestyle that lets me get away more than most, but also a truth that perhaps what you’re looking for is right under your nose.The first half of the trip was to good old Yosemite, a place that’s never let...

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Marginal Gains image Climbing  | Apr 20, 16

Marginal Gains

Someone asked me the other day about how to speed up their climbing, looking for one or two major tips that would see them half their climbing time (vital for long routes).  My answer was that the main way to go faster is to just climb faster (be more confident, place less gear, know where you’re going), something that comes with time and experience.  The other way to go faster is to understand that what speeds things up is to focus on marginal gains.I used to know a lot of pro cyclists and the idea of...

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