Latest Post

19 May 2010

ROPE SOLOING 101 Part 1

WARNING::  This blog is not meant as instructional text, and is simply a description of how I rope solo.  Rope soloing is highly dangerous and demands a great deal of experience and good judgment and in many ways is more dangerous than free soloing, due to an increased reliance on ‘systems’.  Anyone wishing to rope solo should already have an extensive knowledge of all the systems and equipment needed, as well as a...

The old switcheroo

05 May 2010

Technique : The old switcheroo

One of the comments from my blog about climbing as a three asked the following question: I seem to climb multipitch trad as three quite a bit.  The one lead/two follow at the same time method works pretty well.  My question is, is there an efficient way to switch leads in this case?  Is untying and retying the best way? One of the fasted, and...

Climbing as Three

23 April 2010

Technique : Climbing as Three

Historically the Western default number in a climbing team is generally two, a number that allows swift and belayed movement, with group gear (stoves, food, tent) being dived, as well as the number of pitches led.  As with all climbing dogma, it’s worth looking at why this is, and if it’s a sound way of doing things, after all in...

Jetboil mods

01 April 2010

Gear: Jetboil mods

Although a few stoves have come along and looked as if they were going to topple it from the top spot spot (MSR & Edelrid), as yet no one has yet been able to topple the Jetboil from it’s spot as the number one wall stove for climbers. When I say ‘wall stove’, I do so in order to differentiate it from a ‘mountain...

Bothy or Bivy bag

27 March 2010

Gear: Bothy or Bivy bag

Hi, I’m so sorry to bother you about something you’ve probably answered a thousand times already but Im looking to get a lightweight bivy for alpine climbs in Colorado. I’ve looked through most if not all your reviews on bothys and bivys but I’m still just so confused. My main question is how well would a bothy work for...

Winter advice

26 February 2010

Technique : Winter advice

Hi andrew sorry to trouble I am going to ben Nevis this weekend and want to do no 3 or no 4 gully or gardyloo only done grade 2 up to now on Dow crag easy gully in winter can you offer any safety advice due to the weather or just general advice going with my mate who has done mont blanc in the summer regards James Hi James It always seems odd...

Petzl AZTAREX

23 February 2010

Review: Petzl AZTAREX

I must admit that I’ve never been a real fan of the Petzl AZTAR, finding them a bit old fashioned, which means you can’t use them leashless, a major drawback for any tool.  Instead I was a big time Quark user, finding that although they look top end, they worked well on all types of climbing (plus they were leashless).  But...

Aiding across roofs

20 January 2010

Technique : Aiding across roofs

Hi Andy just wondering whether you would consider writing a short piece for your website about the technique for aid climbing on a roof or big overhang. We managed to completely fail up at Thor’s Cave yesterday (although admittedly the hangovers, ice, mud and fog may have had something to do with it). It doesn’t seem to be a technique...

The School: No4 Buttress, Coire An Lochain

15 January 2010

Climbing: The School: No4 Buttress, Coire An Lochain

Lochain is a honey pot for aspiring Scottish mixed climbers, and although detractors will point out that it’s nothing but a road side crag, and tame in comparison to many other full value venues, as a testing ground or lab for mixed climbing there is probably nowhere better.  In my mind, if Coire an Sneachda is the Stanage of UK winter...

Hagan Nanook appraoch skis

11 January 2010

Gear: Hagan Nanook appraoch skis

I can remember about ten years ago, when Salamon Snowblades first appeared on the market, telling the UK rep Pete Rostron how great they would be for climbers, if only they had a simple heal lift binding.  Every time I saw him I’d tell him the same thing, and every time he laughed, thinking I was joking.  I wasn’t. ...

Designing stupid

10 January 2010

Gear: Designing stupid

Many moons ago I was working in a climbing shop.  One day a certain - rather rotund - hardware manufacturer’s sales rep came in with an idea he wanted to run past us.  He explained how the company had been looking into designing a new alpine/winter harness, which was proving taxing, as everyone seemed to buy the BD Bod or DMM...

giving up the drink

07 January 2010

Opinion: giving up the drink

What do you think is the best hydrating system for winter  climbing? Carrying some water in a camelback, or relying only on the snow and the melting of it on a stove? And how much water do you have to carry, if you need to carry and also you want to go light? Thank you. I’m one of those lucky people who can go all day without drinking or...

Broken Axes

05 January 2010

Gear: Broken Axes

A friend of mine recently had a very nasty accident when his Petzl Quark snapped.  He was in the process of doing a can opener move, resulting in him spiking himself in the face, breaking his jaw and generally coming off very badly indeed (he’s Scottish and a hardcore winter climber, so his biggest concern was having to stop climbing when...

Gut instinct - 5 ideas on how to avoid an avalanche

02 January 2010

Technique : Gut instinct - 5 ideas on how to avoid an avalanche

Over the last few years I’ve got more and more into sea kayaking, both because my partner refuses to walk, and because it’s the nearest thing to having a full on expedition in your back garden (1 hour in a sea kayak is equivalent to 1 day on an expedition). One thing you learn very quickly is that the sea always wins.  No matter how...

Never had it so good - Ice screws

30 December 2009

Gear: Never had it so good - Ice screws

“Andrew, Do you sharpen your own ice screws? Being a carpenter gives me good skills for using a file and I always keep my ice tools and crampons sharp. I have been using a very small file to tune up my ice screws, but notice that my new BD Express screws go in so much better than the filed ones.” Geoff Its a good question, and...

Fact 14

27 December 2009

Opinion: Fact 14

An 11-year-old’s guide to avalanches: demonstrated via a Factory Records sleeve Over Xmas, my daughter Ella asked me what caused an avalanche, probably because she was worrying that there may be one on her street (it is quite a steep Sheffield street, but all the cars, wheelie bins and dog turds mean it’s pretty safe from avalanches...

tip number 4 hook or book

21 December 2009

Technique : tip number 4 hook or book

One of the scariest hooks you can have - well when you’re used to real locking hooks - is when you hook a small hold, the type of thing you’d crimp.  These kinds of moves become more and more common as you get onto harder routes, and often the crux will be just such a move (or string of them), leading you to something a little more...

Tip Number 3: it’s all in the feet

17 December 2009

Technique : Tip Number 3: it’s all in the feet

When to see Powell and Pressburger’s magnificent The Red Shoes the other night, a film that would convert even the most jaded of culture trolls into a ballet lover (and I’m not talking old school Boreal rock boots).  If it comes to a cinema near you (it’s be remastered and re rereleased) go and see it. One thing that ballet dancers...

Tip Number 2: A Tap for Luck

17 December 2009

Technique : Tip Number 2: A Tap for Luck

So we’ve covered testing a tool in tip one, but how about a step beyond just testing?  Again, imagine you’ve got to make a move off a stance, perhaps a very big move, and you only have one pick hooked into a patch of dirt, or in a patch of soft neve.  Maybe your last runners a long way below you and you can’t afford to fall. ...