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

The Weight of a Soul image Dark-Half  | Jan 22, 15

The Weight of a Soul

I got an email last night which I want to share.  It made me almost cry, both for what it said, and because it meant more to me than the writer could ever have known.If you’ve ever spent more than a day looking at my tweets, or reading between the lines on my blog, then you’ll guess things have been tough for a while.  I admit most things, so will admit I’m having counselling (the biggest problem I seem to have with it is spelling it), living by myself again (sometimes you can’t...

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Dick in a Toaster image Dark-Half  | Jan 21, 15

Dick in a Toaster

First off I have no idea what kind of projects you’re thinking off, or who you are.  If you’re talking about getting a kayak and paddling to Australia from Germany, or doing all the alpine peaks over 4000 metres in a year, well that sounds normal to me, while if you want to make a skin suit out of dead people…. well maybe you’ve come to the wrong man!Secondly it doesn’t sound like you’re crazy, in fact you’re maybe a little less crazy than all the people who you feel you to be...

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Nav Paranoia image Technique   | Jan 20, 15

Nav Paranoia

We are in the season of the lost, the season where all climbers dust off their compass’s, unfold mouldy maps, and try and remember how to get from A to B, secretly praying the weather stays clear, so they can get back from B to A at the end of it!Good navigation in tough environments is about many things, but for me the one thing that is often left out from the teaching and the learning is paranoia.I’ve often said that the art of staying alive in the mountains is to be paranoid - to never...

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To be a pro image Dark-Half  | Jan 19, 15

To be a pro

I can remember once sitting in a pub in Hull with my old mate ‘Wayne the fireman’, talking about people I’d met recently, passing on stories they’d passed on to me, people who’s lives were the type of lives that other people wrote books about (and some of them had done).  Half way through a story about Jon Turk kayaking to Alaska from Japan (I’d met Jon at the Banff film festival) Wayne just said “Fuck - how do you meet so many interesting people?!”I guess it’s true that in my line of...

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The urge to live image Dark-Half  | Jan 08, 15

The urge to live

HiFirst off sorry to take so long to reply to your email, because if you’re brave enough to write something so honest then that deserves a honest reply (well at least a reply).  Also if you can understand yourself, question, find answers, even find questions, then you’ve got the makings of a good climber (and a good person… well an interesting person), as deep thought and self analysis is crucial in any sport. Most people think they don’t know what they want, but they know what they have is not it.  They look...

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The Mountain image Dark-Half  | Dec 26, 14

The Mountain

Strange, but woke up this morning with this poem in my head, which although I have no doubt is crap (I know bugger all about poetry) I’ll share with you here (sure it’s total 6 form rubbish, but I’ll post it anyway).The MountainThe Mountain does not love you. Nor does it care nor does it hate or wish you harm or wish you well.The Mountain does not betray trick, or beguile. Say yes when it means no. Act out of fear. Act out of love. Pull you in then throw you back reject you nor...

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Tent Survivability image Technique   | Dec 25, 14

Tent Survivability

In a high mountain or polar environment your tent can be exposed to winds that can easily exceed the ‘safe working load’ of even the most advanced mountain tents, leading first to broken poles, then fabric/seam breakdown, followed by the doomsday scenario of the whole tent being blown away with you in it!The strongest mountain tents made (a Snowsled Scott tent) will still only survive winds of 90 mph, which is extreme, but it can and does get windier than that, then the Scott is a 30kg monster with virtual scaffolding as poles!  Now how would a 3kg...

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Solo Bungee cord question image Q&A  | Dec 25, 14

Solo Bungee cord question

HiBungee prusik loops are just the same as the ones you make from thin cord.  The difference is that in a fall they will stretch and maybe snap, where as a thin cord loop (say 2mm or 3mm) snapping can actually generate enough force to cut the rope itself (I’ve had my fingers cut deeply by 2mm cord that’s broken under load).  Having something potentially acting as a knife in your solo system (and attached to your rope!) is probably a risk not worth taking! Another alternative is to just use the super solid elastic...

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Humiliation image Dark-Half  | Dec 23, 14


I was walking home after buying an ice-cream, having stood in line with all the other kids of the estate, 50p’s clutched in their grimy hands, or maybe £1, a tiny sibling standing close by, that smell of exhaust fumes mixed with sugar and spice making the queue buzz with anticipation.   There are two things that stand out for me from my 70’s childhood, the queues and the fumes, everything dirty, dusty, cigarette yellow or diesel black, feet shuffling down, onto buses, into shops, towards a grave.  It was a careless world of waiting in line, always standing, leaving room,...

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