blog

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


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...

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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...

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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...

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Diatribe image Dark-Half  | Oct 29, 14

Diatribe

I don’t know Nick Bullock, but I’ve met him a few times, had a few emails, a few run-ins.  I always thought that Nick doesn’t like me much (but then I think that of most great climbers, probably due to them never seeing me at my best).  I know he thinks I often ‘take the piss’, and I suspect I live in a box marked fat aid climbing bullshitter in his head.  I like Nick though.  I think Nick’s about the same age as me, and to my mind, he’s the...

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A Distant Shore image Dark-Half  | Oct 27, 14

A Distant Shore

I’m just on my way home (again), my arse numb from too many hours sat in my seat, the number of flights I’ve taken this year meaning I’ve seen almost every film I’d want to watch five times over (X-men Day’s of Future Past is my guilty pleasure, due to me having a bit of a man-crush on Michael Fassbender), and so most of the time I just sit and gaze at the tiny plane moving across the map in front of me and think about things, and try not to think about others while...

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Gordon Stainforth image Dark-Half  | Oct 15, 14

Gordon Stainforth

The other day I saw a really generous comment to a blog I wrote from someone I’d always respected, but also someone I felt I’d wronged in the past - Gordon Stainforth.  I’ve know Gordon probably longer than he remembers, being a customer at Outside when I worked there as a lowly shop assistant, being one of those customers who brightened my day - being a ‘name’.  All customers in a climbing shop are generally interesting, sharing the same passion as you, off to do interesting things, but every week or so you’d get...

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The Extraordinary Nobody image Dark-Half  | Oct 10, 14

The Extraordinary Nobody

I met Menna Pritchard in Cardigan, an unexpected tweet asking the question of whether she was brave enough to ask me out for a drink.  I’d always wanted a groupie, and often joked that the only groupies I got were middle-aged men, but also knew if I ever came across one I’d run a mile (she wasn’t a groupie, or even a “band-aid”).  I’ve never ‘dated’ in my life, and I’m pretty clueless when it comes to love and women - something I put down to go to an all-boys school (woman scare...

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Gunks image Dark-Half  | Sep 30, 14

Gunks

Just spend two days in the gunks, a really remarkable climbing destination, a sort of Stanage Edge crag with a lot of nice slabs interspersed with juggy roofs, and a place I’d been hearing about forever (every route seems to have a ‘reach around the roof for a bucket’ move on it).  If short multipitch trad climbing on steep juggy ground is your thing, then give it a visit (New York State has a lot of great climbing, and really amazing people) - with High Exposure (5.6) and Modern Times (5.8) being worth the visit alone.  Spoke last night...

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Empire State image Dark-Half  | Sep 27, 14

Empire State

In New York this morning, staying a stones throw away from the Empire State Building and tonight I’m talking in Glens Falls, part of a mini tour of the US I’m doing with Montane.  Last night felt like the first time I’d slept in a real bed for a while, the skimpy half length grubby yellow Karrimat I’ve been using for the last two trips having all the comfort of a tea tray (on the Nose in June I imagined the Nose was pressing up against me, rather me the crap mat allowing me to...

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Hertz image Climbing  | Sep 24, 14

Hertz

I’m staggering down in the dark and the dust, like really staggering, lowering myself over boulders I’d usually jump, feet feeling like bloody pulp, knees throbbing, each and every muscle playing its own little tune of pain.  My good head torch was dead, leaving me the backup, which had quickly faded to the effectiveness of a watch light.  Ahead a stronger beam darted through the interminable trail, a stronger beam half my age, Calum Muskett.  “Calum wait for me, I can’t see anything” I shouted, knowing how pathetic I was, but also aware I...

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