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

Getting fat - getting (reliantly) skinny image Dark-Half  | Sep 07, 14

Getting fat - getting (reliantly) skinny

The other day I was searching for an old image of me on KMFF’s Facebook page (I was looking for this one as I’m doing some talks for Doug Scott this winter), but the image that popped up was hardly recognisable - I just looked so skinny!I often come across old pictures like this which always surprise me, as my self image since my early teens, has been of a fat porker.  Even when I was cycling 24 miles a day five days a week to work, as well as climbing, I still thought I was fat ...

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In the bag - clothes or not image Climbing Q&A  | Aug 30, 14

In the bag - clothes or not

I’ve had quite a lot of experience in the field of having a bag that wasn’t warm enough, while having plenty of clothes on, and so have spent many a sleepless night ruminating on this topic!The first thing to say to novice extreme campers is that it’s vital that your base layers (well all your layers really) are as dry as possible, as you will chill with damp underwear on.  A lot of people are not great at looking after themselves in the outdoors (due to fatigue, poor self-discipline or laziness) and so just get...

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The thing that scares me image Dark-Half  | Aug 22, 14

The thing that scares me

I played that song ‘Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)’ by Baz Lurhmann to Ella and Ewen the other day, one of the best songs you could ever play a young person - well - as long as they’re old enough to listen (Ewen just sighed and said “this is rubbish, it’s just someone talking”).  If you’ve never heard it, then it’s based on something that Kurt Vonnegut wrote, a kind of list of advice for life, which sound naff, but isn’t (I’m a massive fan of Vonnegut, and loved the way he...

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The Cosmonauts Prayer image Dark-Half  | Aug 14, 14

The Cosmonauts Prayer

I recently spent a week with a family who were deeply religious.  I know I may come across as a bit of a rabid atheist (because I am) but really I don’t care what people believe as long as a) they don’t expect me to join in, and b) their faith does not encroach on the lives of others (especially children - including their own). I’ve spent time with people of faith many times, and being very weak minded I always come away thinking how I may become a Mormon/Jew/Sikh (I have a...

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And the sun shone image Dark-Half  | Aug 04, 14

And the sun shone

You have to be very careful searching using google images these days, with horrific images popping up unexpectedly when searching for the mundane and burning into your consciousness before you have time to hit the back button.  I can remember doing a search for a climbing term once and coming across a small thumbnail of a man who’d been run over by a tank, his insides trailing away from a twisted torso, people standing looking down at the horror.  The other day Ella was searching for a picture of a gadget called a ‘Jawbone UP’, but typing...

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4000 metre layers image Gear  | Jul 17, 14

4000 metre layers

Hi AndyIs that all you’ll be wearing : )I’m not totally sure about the Rab Strata, but know about the Vapour rise lite, but I’ll give you my thoughts.I think it’s always hard to give a specific kit list for alpine climbs, as conditions can change from day to day, or even hour to hour.  I’ve been on El Cap, where it was 40 degrees when I started, and have wanted to have more clothes than you describe at 2am in the morning!What should always guide your choice for any alpine climb is: ...

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Petzl Micro Traxion image Gear  | Jun 25, 14

Petzl Micro Traxion

I’m currently writing the hauling section of my nerdy tech book Me, Myself and I (big wall solo manual),  and so have been thinking a lot about hauling pulleys, systems etc.  One thing that I’ve realised is that I’ve damaged (bent, twisted, knacked the bearings) most of the heavy-duty pulleys I’ve used on walls (Rock Exotica Wall Hauler, Petzl Mini and Pro Traxion).  In all cases I think this was due to a mixture of overloading the pulleys and using them in a manner they were not designed or tested for (hauling in...

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Mountain Quilt image Q&A  | Jun 24, 14

Mountain Quilt

I’ve been using blankets for a number of years both for climbing and kayaking, finding them much easier to use than a mummy sleeping bag.  I guess this all started while using sleeping bags on walls in winter conditions, as getting inside with all your clothes on, water and pee bottle, gas canister, Inner boots, camera etc - while still tied in, can be a nightmare - plus there’s zero chance of zipping up the bag.  In order to get over this, I just started to pull the sleeping bag over me like a blanket, leaving...

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Cobwebs image Dark-Half  | Jun 03, 14


Maybe it’s just a sign of getting old, but each time I come back to Yosemite I get the feeling that I should make this one my last. The place haunts me when I’m away, and it haunts me when I’m here - I guess it just haunts me.I’m here for three weeks, sort of a holiday after months of pretty intensive work or more intensive ‘life changing stuff’, with no fixed plans apart from climbing the Nose with some mates next week.  I’ve done no climbing and no training, not even a...

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Alpine Scrounging image Q&A  | May 18, 14

Alpine Scrounging

Hi JonGetting on a Conville course is a great idea when starting out, as for getting hold of gear when you’re starting out can seem tough, but with a little boldness it’s not so hard!  The real cost of gear has fallen a lot of the years, and so the amount of gear climbers buy has increased, as well as the gear they no longer need.  Add innovation to this, with people replacing, updating and upgrading their boots, crampons, axes etc - well most climbers end up with a great deal of old and redundant...

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