blog

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


letter from America: Superman and the fuckwit image Dark-Half  | Jun 25, 10

letter from America: Superman and the fuckwit

Back in the cafe after another unproductive night shift on El Cap.Every time I try and fail - I’ll explain why later - I come down not feeling glum, but excited about going back.  Every time I fail I see things I need to do better; little tweaks, better ways of doing things, new ways of thinking.  Also every time I go back, the mountain before me is a little smaller.Yesterday morning I was being attacked by my ringtail cat - but it seems months ago already.  Coming down at 5 am I felt knackered...

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Letter from America: Ringtail image Dark-Half  | Jun 23, 10

Letter from America: Ringtail

Drove into the valley yesterday afternoon and the first two things that hit me were the crowds and the heat.  People often say they hate the crowds, but when you spend most of the time on a wall you don’t tend to see them, but yesterday the place was rammed - perfect for a ‘get me off the ground’ psyche.  Next was the heat, and as soon as I saw the haze coming of the tarmac I was running through heat stroke - or worse - scenarios for my speed climbing (due to the nature of speed...

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Letter from America: Thinking like a fool image Dark-Half  | Jun 23, 10

Letter from America: Thinking like a fool

I’m sat outside the Coffee block Cafe in Merced working off my jetlag with a cup of tea before heading up to Yosemite valley. I don’t mind flying, but hate traveling - which is pain when that’s what I seem to do most of the time.  I guess it’s down to the fact that I just don’t trust myself to get the myriad of tiny - but crucial - things right.  It’s as if I have to double check everything all the time. I can’t be left or trusted.  Its...

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The balloon image Dark-Half  | Jun 15, 10

The balloon

The last few days have been a revelation to me - the kind of days that seem to come straight from the pages of a book.I’ll keep the story short, as it’s not my story, but I guess the person involved would never see it as anything special; which is a shame, because for the rest of us, it’s something to hold onto when times are tough; one of those stories too good to be true (like most of mine - except this one is).Anyone who’s seen me talk over the last few years...

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Windows and bricks image Dark-Half  | Jun 13, 10

Windows and bricks

Over the past few months, while writing Cold Wars - as well as writing pieces for Patagonia and Alpinist - I feel I’ve learnt a great deal about lazy writing.  What I mean by this is that very often you take the path of least resistance with your words, generally using clichés as they are a good short hand to describe what you mean, and not just your standard clichés, but clichéd sentences and paragraphs; the same old thing you find everywhere. It’s not surprising, as this is the type of stuff that...

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ROPE SOLOING 101 PART 3 image Technique   | Jun 10, 10

ROPE SOLOING 101 PART 3

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.A rope solo - step...

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ROPE SOLOING 101 Part 1 image Technique   | May 19, 10

ROPE SOLOING 101 Part 1

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 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.What is rope soloing? Free soloing is the truest...

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The old switcheroo image Technique   | May 05, 10

The old switcheroo

One of the comments from my blog about climbing as a three asked the following question: I seem to climb multi-pitch trad as three quite a bit.  The one lead/two follow at the same time method works pretty well.  My question is, is there an efficient way to switch leads in this case?  Is untying and retying the best way?One of the fasted, and smoothest ways to run a 3 person team; so as to make swap over fast, and keep your ropes tidy, is - when both seconds arrive - for the new leader to take both the...

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Climbing in a three image Technique   | Apr 22, 10

Climbing in a three

Historically the Western default number in a climbing team is generally two, a number that allows swift and belayed movement, with group gear (stoves, food, tent) being dived, as well as the number of pitches led.  As with all climbing dogma, it’s worth looking at why this is, and if it’s a sound way of doing things, after all in places like Russia, teams on hard big routes tend to number 4.Most climbers begin on outcrops (or in climbing walls), where the optimum number is always two, allowing the most climbing to be done with the least...

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