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

Rope Hooks image Climbing  | Mar 29, 21

Rope Hooks

Rope Wrangling Tools

In my Rope Belay Wrangling feature, I covered a range of techniques used to try and control your ropes at the belay, all but one (the rope bucket), using only the equipment you have at hand, primarily the rope itself. But there are a few other options I left out which might be of interest. These are best classed as rope hooks, designed to improve on standard methods, giving you a one-handed option to lap your ropes.Beal Ringo (50g) Although discontinued, you often see the Ringo on sale. The design is simple but effective, working a little like that...

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Comb image Dark-Half  | Mar 28, 21


I once gave a talk at a Sheffield school about skiing across Greenland. All the kids were tiny, and they sat at my feet. You can always tell the kids that will go far, and the ones who won’t, even so young. I suppose it’s their hair. Some have it combed – which I’m sure they hate – and some don’t - having never seen a comb.The headmistress – funny word – asked if the kids had any questions. One child asked how I could breathe in Greenland, as there were no trees. She had combed hair. Another asked, “...

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Rope Belay Wrangling image Climbing  | Mar 26, 21

Rope Belay Wrangling

How to tame your unruly ropes.

A tidy belay is a happy belay, but no matter what kind of belay you’re at; bolted or trad, big wall, ice or rock, the thing that makes the biggest mess are your ropes.Messy ropes, ropes that become tangled in each other, or get hung up on features around the belay, such as bushes and spikes, can be either a mild annoyance or a major hazard.Minor rope tangles as you pay out rope are a distraction, forcing you to deal with a never endings series of little problems, rope loops looping around other rope loops. Such small...

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Oh Shit Awards #1 image Climbing  | Mar 19, 21

Oh Shit Awards #1

A month ago I started the ‘Oh Shit Award’, an award given to climbers who are honest and share their mistakes with a wide audience (just include the hashtag #ohshitaward so I can find it). I’ve also had a lot of people DM me and I will share some more next week, but this months winner is Scottish climber Robert MacKenzie (@skampervan.adventures), who gets both an A for effort, as well as a W for ‘Well done on not dying!’.#1. Anchors in loose blocks @shirewalksuk and I went to a small crag near Glasgow last year, with the...

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2000% image Dark-Half  | Mar 17, 21


A few weeks ago I wrote something about the murder rate being up by 70% in some US cities following the call to defund the police, a state of affairs that would be filed under ‘mugged by reality. Of course, some people thought this was a stupid thing to say, 70%? and that - as usual - I was making it up, fake news, after all, they’d not heard or read any news like this via their own trusted news feeds. But then maybe quoting such off-narrative facts might be viewed as anti-BLM, it’s a failure of solidarity, even though...

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Like Nick image Literature   | Mar 17, 21

Like Nick

I’ve been trying to record the audio version of Psychovertical for a few months now, something that’s turned into an exercise in procrastination and distraction. I’ve built my own studio twice, and by studio, I mean a spare room with a mic in it, and then tried to be a bit more professional and stuck my mic inside a DIY power rack festooned with sleeping bags.That took me a few months.Then it came to the recording bit. Having done a few podcasts, I understood some of the problems to avoid, like ‘clicking’, or wet mouth...

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Human Stain image Dark-Half  | Mar 16, 21

Human Stain

I get an increasing number of messages from people who don’t feel comfortable communicating publicly, which I suppose proves The New York Times correct: that private and confidential conversations are a threat and need to be monitored somehow, otherwise, how will we know what anti-social, dissident and class enemies are talking about?Most of these messages are less about resistance, like there’s an alien invasion - ‘They Live’ style – and we’re an underground army, but more end of the world club; that if sense, logic, culture and society are driving over a cliff, we at least want...

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Cut & Paste image Dark-Half  | Mar 14, 21

Cut & Paste

Apart from being told once or twice a day that, “I don’t agree with everything you say, but…”, which gets tiresome after few years – because neither do I – the thing that never ceases to how others can be so casually racist, sexist and ageist.I really struggle to grasp the mental state of people who in defending what they view as high minded ideals, can ask your points to be dismissed due to you being “white”, a “man”, and “old”. I think once someone sinks so low their point needs to be struck off just as they would if...

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Charlie image Dark-Half  | Mar 12, 21


My grandad, Charlie Kirkpatrick, was thrown out of his home aged 17. This was his reward for coming to the defence of his mother, who was being beaten by his father, my great grandad, who was a Hull docker. This brave act not only saw him being thrown out by his father but by his mother too, no doubt shocked to find two big dogs in a house just big enough for one. Such a tale might sound odd to some, but people are odd; they constantly fall short of expectations and stereotypes, people who love - and beat - each...

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Flak image Dark-Half  | Mar 11, 21


In 2019 I had some work on a TV program about climbing El Cap with some celebs, the usual shite, a footballer, someone from the Paralympics, a TV presenter, the ex-husband/wife of some C list celeb. One of the people involved was to be Caroline Flack, who I only knew because my daughter had forced me to watch Love Ireland. It was the usual story of writing out lots of ideas and how things would work, talking to people on the phone, trying to reduce expectations (no, you cannot helicopter David Williams in halfway up). There are several reasons why...

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