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

What’s writing about? image Dark-Half  | Jan 24, 16

What’s writing about?

For me writing is more music than maths, more magic than grammar, it’s as free as I can make it in order to make it free.  I re-read what I write and it makes me sick, like reading out my last blog in the car to someone driving.  It makes me sick as it makes no sense to me now, not like I thought it did.  I read what comes out and want to chuck it all away, makes me feel like one of those hopelessly deluded losers from the X-factor who had no idea they...

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More Black Than White: image Dark-Half  | Jan 22, 16

More Black Than White:

What I like about racists is that although they attract the righteous anger and indignation of those who judge themselves not to be so intolerant, and lack the lofty view shared by those who have made it to the moral high ground, you can’t deny that at least they’re honest.  Now before we carry on (maybe I’ve lost you already and you’ve headed back up the hill, cursing me for tricking you down here) when I say the dreaded R-word close your eyes and what do you see?  Probably a white guy, maybe someone...

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VBL Socks image Climbing  | Jan 20, 16

VBL Socks

Vapour barrier liner socks or VBL Socks (or just VB) are often seen as being some strange and obscure technique use solely for use by those at the very extreme end of the adventure, primarily people working or climbing in the Arctic or Antarctic. In fact, VB socks offer a lot to anyone operating in sub-zero temperatures for extended periods of time, especially on multi-day routes - with the longer and colder the route the more they become applicable.What do VB socks do? Wet socks caused by sweat are a prime cause of cold feet and worst still frostbite,...

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Friend Requests image Dark-Half  | Jan 15, 16

Friend Requests

I’ve never been a good friend, and for most of my life although I did have friends, good friends, friends I’d die for and they die for me, really - they were just a hassle, another thing, too much ‘upkeep’ to bother with unless I needed something or our paths were crossing anyway.  I know why this is, it’s simple: for a long time, I judged myself as unimportant, that they’d no doubt have real friends that deserved their attention, that strong binding connections with human beings are dangerous.  One day they may walk...

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Fragments image Dark-Half  | Jan 13, 16


Was asked to write a long list of ideas of thoughts and ideas for Rock & Ice’s ‘What I Learned’ column a few months back, the result of which is in the latest issue.  When asked to write this kind of thing I just bang out a long train of thought, which can be a positive and negative, and reading back what I wrote I’m sure the guys at R&I must have thought ‘what the fuck!’.  Anyway there was a lot - for obvious reasons - that ended up on the floor, so I...

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The Bear Pit (Prologue) image Dark-Half  | Jan 11, 16

The Bear Pit (Prologue)

The following is part of a novel I’ve been tinkering with for over twenty years called ‘The Bear Pit’, a book that deals with the subject of obsession and the darkness that often drives it. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many talented people, watch how their lives evolved, sometimes positively, often less so. It seemed that to be gifted - like Achilles - to be a flaw, a curse, because, for most, they could see that gift was squandered, burnt up by worthless distractions and obsessions, and it was only when it was too late did they...

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Hats image Gear  | Jan 10, 16


I was over at the Montane office this week doing a day of design work, talking to the design team (1 guy, 2 women) about current gear and future designs.  I always enjoy these meetings, even if they’re not always as easy as you’d imagine, due to me being a little blunt at times, and also a little uncompromising.  For me, I follow that old design principle that when you’ve removed every single superfluous feature of a product and stripped it to the bone, then that’s perfection.  I have a pack coming out from Montane...

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Normality of tragedy image Climbing  | Jan 09, 16

Normality of tragedy

I clicked onto the Alpinist website on Tuesday night, one of those ‘screensaver’ sites you visit when your mind goes blank and you need something to do, clicking on Tumblr, BBC news or UKclimbing - sort of something to do before you have something to do.  The Alpinist site is a good site, with a lot of good content, but being a small affair it’s slow to produce new attention fodder, their time taken up producing the best climbing magazine in the world no doubt, but one worth a visit when your thoughts nip out.  On the...

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Chicken Pie image Dark-Half  | Jan 07, 16

Chicken Pie

The other day someone tweeted me the following question:“from 2014 to 2015 you turned it round. My 2015 has been your 2014. Any tips old sage? My 2016 needs to be your 2015!”My reply - off the top of my head was:Try & be brave. Take the short term hell for some long term heaven (most people live lives the other way round : (I wrote these words just as I sat down for dinner at Vanessa’s mum and dad’s house in Galway: home made chicken pie, complete with veg, roast potatoes and cornflower cheese, my reply one of those guilty “I...

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Once in a Lifetime image Climbing  | Jan 06, 16

Once in a Lifetime

Wow that’s quite a question!  Thanks for the bullet points. Here’s a list of thoughts:Having the appropriate skill set People often get hung up on not having enough experience but most often than not we’re not talking brain surgery or flying a paraglider over the alps, and most skills just spring to life when you need them (like that ape picking up a bone in 2001 and smashing another ape over the head with it!).  Hand someone a set of nuts and they’ll probably work out how to place them and attach the rope,...

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