blog

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


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

Humiliation

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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Survivability image Climbing  | Dec 13, 14

Survivability

This year has been a cold year, starting with fifty days living at minus thirty in Queen Maud Land, and then slowly growing the dream of soloing Denali in Winter, perhaps the coldest climb there is.  And so the cold has been my constant companion, as I strategise gear for Denali (a mix of Montane, PHD, homemade gear and specialist items like a Wolverine fur trim - such items are one reason for my Indigogo crowdfunding ), how will I cope with the super low temperatures, storms, crevasses?  Not just survive, but thrive.My mate Ed Stobart a man...

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Porridge and Bananas image Dark-Half  | Dec 03, 14

Porridge and Bananas

I’ve spent the last few days hanging out in Hull, staying at my mums, walking the streets, walking down ghosts, chased by ghosts.  In a week I’m off to the Alps with Calum Muskett and so I walk the streets waiting to go - knowing that with Calum there’ll be no room for ghosts. Walking down an old familiar road, past the flat I used to live bin boarded up, I suddenly remembered the ten pence man, a familiar character to any West Hull local.  This tall, well dressed gent, who looked like a...

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Petzl Lim’Ice image Gear  | Nov 29, 14

Petzl Lim’Ice

When it comes to ice climbing, hard alpine and even mixed climbing, staying sharp is crucial - both in the head, and your gear.  Sharp picks are of course the most obvious thing to keep sharp, as a sharp pick needs less force to ‘stick’, meaning you’ll use less energy and cause less dinner-plating.  If you look at climbers like Will Gadd, they look like they’re almost just placing their picks in the ice. On mixed climbs having a sharp pick means you picks will hold an edge better when hooking, plus they will fit into...

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On Being a Dad image Dark-Half  | Nov 26, 14

On Being a Dad

Hi JamesWell first off I really consider myself pretty much a failure as a traditional dad.  For some people at least we seem destined to visit the same mistakes as our parents did on us, which is both heartbreaking because we know too well the damage it can cause but also allows us the unwelcome privilege of having some insight into the reality of that pain.  We get unintentionally fucked up, we try not to fuck up our kids in the same way, and in the process of fighting tooth and nail not to, we feel the...

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