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17 December 2009

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.  What do you do? One very handy technique - and one I’m not sure if it’s sporting - but then...

Pushing the Limits - A series of tips to improve your winter grade

15 December 2009

Technique : Pushing the Limits - A series of tips to improve your winter grade

It’s that time of year again were you’re glued to the climbing forecasts, digesting winter battle reports from UKC users, and juggling work and families for that amazing winter weekend you’ve been dreaming of since the last one.  Most climbers will want to push their grade this winter, going for a classic that’s a bit harder then the...

Open letter to Stevie Haston

14 December 2009

Opinion: Open letter to Stevie Haston

Dear Stevie Had a great idea this morning. I think you should get in touch with Ken Russell (film making version of Ken Wilson… but who looks like Ian Smith) and talk about doing a film of your life. Think it would be be amazing, like The Devils meets Women in Love (you and JIm Perrin wrestling naked in front of an MSR stove springs to...

The Horror

13 December 2009

: The Horror

Mark Kermode’s review of Paranormal Activity the other day included feedback from a lot of people and reviewers who’d been very effected by the film.  It got me thinking about horror films I’ve seen that went beyond the normal film horror, into the kind of experiences that stay with you for ever. I’m a huge fan of what I’d call...

Diasy Chain question

11 December 2009

Technique : Diasy Chain question

Hey Andy, I was reading through your article on basic big wall gear. You said that you should larks head your daisy chains around your belay loop and not through your waist and leg loops. I was curious as to why? I’ve always gone through the waist and leg loops because I figured that you tie in through there, and the belay loop runs through...

Summer Alpine Bags: How light is too light?

10 December 2009

Gear: Summer Alpine Bags: How light is too light?

Hi Andy Just wanted to quickly pick your brains on sleeping bags.  At the minute I have two sleeping bags, one is a lightweight RAB quantum 250 and my other is a RAB summit 900.  I tend to sleep quite warm so for summer alpine routes I’ve got a couple of options one is that I use my quantum 250 with a lightweight bivi bag (would this put...

Ultimate Gnarl Bag

08 December 2009

Gear: Ultimate Gnarl Bag

Hi Andy, I thought I’d at least send you an email since I just noticed your comments about ripping up a sleeping bag to make one for alpine awesomeness. I’m in the same boat but further a stern, looking at light bags for summer alpine and rock but wanting to do away with the bivy if I can, maybe just rely on a light tarp and my bags...

Further Education

06 December 2009

Opinion: Further Education

Waiting for the weather to get cold again, I’ve spent the last two days finishing images and diagrams for the upcoming peg book;  clicking away in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, along with Indesign, not to mention fiddling with the book’s web page (requiring a DaVinci Code’esk dabbling into html, CSS and Jquery). In between Mac...

Flame on - patagonia speed ascent

03 December 2009

: Flame on - patagonia speed ascent

As some people may have spotted I stopped working for Berghaus last year, basically because I didn’t have enough time to focus on my role there (I was working with the design team).  The one thing Berghaus lacked was a good ‘real’ softshell system (as sold by montane, Buffalo, Paramo, Patagonia), so on leaving - and being too mean to...

DAS Is Skinny

29 November 2009

Gear: DAS Is Skinny

 Hi Andy, I was reading an old article in High where you suggested an optimum outfit for alpine winter was shelled microfleece (e.g. vapour-rise), shelled pile (e.g. buffalo) and a duvet on top (DAS or similar).   At the time, the likes of the DAS Parka, Montane Bivvy, Lowe Alpine Heatseeker, etc. all had had 250-300g of their own-brand...

Get My Ass in Gear!

18 November 2009

Book: Get My Ass in Gear!

I’ve been writing a technical book on pegs for a couple of months now, kind of an extended article covering everything you could ever wish to know about pegs (for winter, alpine, big wall and trad).  So far it’s about 15,000 plus words long.  And yes that IS a lot of words about pegs.  What I set out to do was wring out every...


11 November 2009

Technique : Nodrop

Hi Andy,   Great info as usual!  I’ve just started leading multi pitch ice and have loved going leashless.  Having some sort of lanyard is a great option, but I’d like to avoid more gear hooked or tied to the front of my harness.  What is your opinion of just carrying a spare tool?  What style of tool would you pick (I’ve talked to some...

Winter Strides

08 November 2009

Gear: Winter Strides

Hi I like my Paramo Smock and intend to use this in Scotland, I have been looking at the Paramo Aspira Salopettes as they seem warm, rugged and comfortable. Also been considering something more the opposite like the Mountain Equipment Karakorum pants. They are tough and waterproof but a bit crisp packet like. Any thoughts between the two generic...

Ten ideas on how to hone you alpine psyche

04 November 2009

Technique : Ten ideas on how to hone you alpine psyche

I was emailed by a climber this week asking if I had any ideas on improving your mental attitude for alpine climbing, which I guess means “how do you feel less worried about hurting yourself and push your limit”.  So here’s a brief run down of ideas on how to make you feel Silva Karo. 1.  Don’t have kids I struggle with my...

slime time

07 May 2009

Opinion: slime time

Spent an interesting few days over in north wales this week, battling the rain and gales with a freelance writer working for Trail magazine called Ben Winston.  We were doing a piece on linking together long scrambles with a bivy in the middle, sort of alpine style climbing, but in the UK.  One idea was to do a 1000 metres of scrambling,...

Writing Books - what I wished I’d known

08 March 2009

Opinion: Writing Books - what I wished I’d known

A few days ago I got an email from a guy writing a book and looking for advice, and being a new author I thought I’d blog about the things I wished I’d know from the start. So here are a list of random thoughts - hopefully they may help any authors out there. On writing Writing is not a talent - it’s a skill, and can be learnt by practice...

Staying Safe

28 February 2009

Opinion: Staying Safe

Maybe it’s living with someone was was paralyzed in a climbing accident, reading the emails sent to her by climbers who have also recently been injured, or maybe it’s listening to stories of near missis, close calls, and one or two stories of those that didn’t make it, but over the last few months I’ve been thinking about the consequences...

Best Glove system?

22 February 2009

Gear: Best Glove system?

There is a great deal of gear that’s crucial when it comes to alpine and winter climbing, in fact, due to its nature - you only carry what is absolutely essential - you could say that it’s all crucial.  But when it comes down to technical climbing there isn’t anything that makes or breaks a route than hand-wear.  There are reams...

Signature Product

09 January 2009

Opinion: Signature Product

I was looking for a machete this week for Patagonia as I’d heard there’s quite a bit of bushwacking, finding places to camp as you kayak down the coast.  Then Ben Saunders emailed me this link to the signature Bear Grylls knife from Bayley Knifes.  Now everyone from Ray Mears to Lofty Wiseman has these signature products these days,...