blog

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


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...

read more
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...

read more
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...

read more
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...

read more
Hair image Dark-Half  | Nov 16, 14

Hair

I had my hair cut yesterday, something akin to visiting the dentist for me, probably due to a slight phobia about my ears being sliced off by shiny scissors - as well as a double crown and odd shaped head, which seemed to cause trouble when I was a kid.  My kids often make fun of my hair, in the merciless way kids do, pointing out how I’m going bold whenever I’m on the TV.  I tell them it’s just very fine, but it’s not fine, I’ve met my dad, and I know...

read more
Belay Jacket Question image Q&A  | Nov 15, 14

Belay Jacket Question

The relative importance of weight, bulk, robustness, warmth and cost of a belay jacket probably comes down to when these features seem the most important. In the shop or when buying online, the cost will be a big factor as warmth and weight will be abstract ideas to you as you start typing in your PayPal password or parting with the cash.  In a warm shop, dressed in a t-shirt it’s easy to be swayed by that extra £50, or sidetracked by some Gucci fabric and material, or even a tiny stuff size, but remember, primarily a belay...

read more
Risky Play image Dark-Half  | Nov 13, 14

Risky Play

Here’s a transcript of the speech I gave on Radio 4 Four Thought’ last night (you can listen to it here).  People are free to use it anyway they wish.In 2012 I hung from El Capitan—perhaps the most iconic rock face in the world - skyscraper high, Yosemite valley’s mightiest wall. For five days and nights we’d inched up it’s overhanging face, the summer sun scorching, the largest ledge the size of a shoe, its sheer steepness forcing us to sleep in hammocks attached to the rock.   The ground now stood six London...

read more
Deadline image Literature   | Nov 08, 14

Deadline

I always loved that quote from Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  It’s a feeling any writer worth his salt will understand, and perhaps the stuff of nightmares for any editor. I’ve always tried to be on time, and want to think of myself as reliable, after all reliability and dependability are two of the most important traits in other people (but not in ourselves).  Being flaky, late, unreliable in action and thought, is just work for others. When I was in Australia I met...

read more
Speed, Quality, Price image Gear  | Nov 04, 14

Speed, Quality, Price

I started working with Montane earlier this year, a company I’ve long respected for its willingness to push the boundaries of non commercial/niche kit, and who’d been giving me gear for quite some time (I still think there is no better system for big gnarly winter routes than Extreme smock and salopettes).  Instead of just being someone who just gets kit and that’s it, I wanted a more hands-on approach as I thought my ideas on equipment and clothing was in line with there, and also because they also may just be crazy enough to...

read more