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

Get your hooks out image Technique   | Dec 16, 10

Get your hooks out

New technology in winter protection is always a good thing, and beyond the democratization of good quality ice screws a decade ago the last new bit of winter kit was the ice hook.  Everyone knows how versatile ice hooks are, and since they’ve been adopted in the UK they’ve replaced old style drive in’s and proved themselves on rock, ice and turf.  The main problem with the hook is that it can easily become fixed when placed as a peg, meaning that many routes now sport fixed hooks.  Being one of the original proponents...

read more
Don’t try this at home image Climbing  | Oct 08, 10

Don’t try this at home

I thought this was a wind-up, but it wasn’t (Neil climbed Lurking Fear).  I’m glad he made it.

read more
Which Nuts? image Gear  | Sep 28, 10

Which Nuts?

Hi AndySorry to pester you, but I’m about to buy my first rack of nuts and wondered if I should buy Rocks or Wallnuts?ThanksAdamHi AdamYou can look at nuts in two ways, one is that they are just oblong bits of alloy and they are all much of a muchness, or that they are incredibly sophisticated bits of kit and that each design stands apart from each other.  The truth is somewhere between the two.90% of the time any rack of wires, be they Wallnuts, Rocks or Stoppers, will work perfectly well; you...

read more
special image Dark-Half  | Sep 14, 10


Saw this morning on the BBC website that Ofsted are saying that thousands of pupils are being wrongly diagnosed as having “special needs” on the UK, and that what’s really needed is better teaching support.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently - mainly because my son Ewen has been having a hard time at school, and so there’s been a push to have him categorized as having special needs. For a long time I’ve wondered if being labeled as having “special needs” is just as bad as being labeled as “remedial” when...

read more
Operation Certain Death image Dark-Half  | Sep 03, 10

Operation Certain Death

Been trawling through all my old emails today, looking for messages from my brother Robin, who plays a big part of my book, mainly through his emails as he goes off the Afghanistan and Iraq, and gets closer and closer to danger.  I had the idea of showing two brothers doing dangerous stuff, one selfishly, the other selflessly.  I didn’t want to do this in an explicit or contrived way, and seeing as I rarely see him, then his emails seemed like a good idea.Anyway this one made me laugh this morning, received a little before...

read more
ROPE SOLOING 101 PART 4 image Technique   | Sep 02, 10


WARNING: This blog is not meant as instructional text, and is simply a description of how I rope solo. Rope soloing is highly dangerous and demands a great deal of experience and good judgment and in many ways is more dangerous than free soloing, due to an increased reliance on ‘systems’. Anyone wishing to rope solo should already have an extensive knowledge of all the systems and equipment needed, as well as a sound knowledge of themselves, their limits, and the reality of making a mistake. 

Bottom line: Don’t rope solo.In this final instalment of this series of...

read more
Not working clever image Dark-Half  | Sep 01, 10

Not working clever

I aspire to be a workaholic - the type of guy who can’t stop, who gets it done no matter what, who ignores normal life in the pursuit of something else.  Unfortunately I’m not - I’m a I’vegotworkdoaholic. Every day is full of things I have to do - important things - things that can’t be ignored; books to write, articles to finish, deadlines to meet, tour to plan, talk to set up.  Throw in two kids, a high flying partner who’s training for the Paralympics, family, training and the odd...

read more
Ten tips for the Valley image Climbing  | Aug 31, 10

Ten tips for the Valley

It’s around this time of year that I start to get a bunch of inquires about doing big wall courses, primarily by people with their eye set on the Nose.  Unfortunately this year I’ve had too much on to do any, so I thought I’d scribble down a few random thoughts and tips for those bound for the valley.Getting into Camp 4 This is a big one, as the ‘Camp Full’ sign never comes down!  To get a place you need to be in the queue at 6 am (bring a book, coffee and a chair...

read more
Me & Stevie image Dark-Half  | Aug 28, 10

Me & Stevie

I noticed tonight when looking at my website stats (yes that is very sad) that a lot of searches that bring people to this site are via the words, Stevie Haston.  I imagined the rage in the man, to know that people looking for him were, in fact, winding up with me*.Stevie Haston - just his name strikes fear into my heart.  He is my boggy man.  A climbing monster.  A creature.  Myth.  He’s also my hero.The other day, while in a climbing shop with my kids, I picked up a...

read more
The Balance image Dark-Half  | Aug 25, 10

The Balance

Writing your memoirs - well a bunch of stories about yourself - can be pretty tough once you dig below the surface.  Time and again I look at my younger self and think “you’re not a very nice person, in fact you’re a bit of bastard.” I hope I’m not quite so bad now, but I feel ashamed of my blinkered view of the world back then.  It was just me and the mountains, and nothing else seemed to matter unless it stood between me and my obsession.  This seems common amongst many...

read more