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

The King of Adzes image Gear  | Dec 24, 09

The King of Adzes

HiIf one thing really lets down modern axes for down and dirty climbing, is the lack of a really great adze.  I don’t know if this is because most axe testers are doing predominately pure ice or steep ‘pick only’ mixed climbing, but all - and I mean all - leave a lot to be desired in my book.Here’s a rundown of what I’d consider as being the perfect “full contact” adze. You can hammer in a gear with it and it won’t snap off or bend.  This includes stubborn anchors, pegs...

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tip number 4 hook or book image Technique   | Dec 21, 09

tip number 4 hook or book

One of the scariest hooks you can have - well when you’re used to real locking hooks - is when you hook a small hold, the type of thing you’d crimp.  These kinds of moves become more and more common as you get onto harder routes, and often the crux will be just such a move (or string of them), leading you to something a little more bomber.If you’re unused to doing this kind of thing then here’s a few tips:It’s vital that once you have a hook you’re happy with ...

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Tip Number 3: it’s all in the feet image Technique   | Dec 17, 09

Tip Number 3: it’s all in the feet

When to see Powell and Pressburger’s magnificent The Red Shoes the other night, a film that would convert even the most jaded of culture trolls into a ballet lover (and I’m not talking old school Boreal rock boots).  If it comes to a cinema near you (it’s be remastered and re rereleased) go and see it.One thing that ballet dancers and climbers share is the knowledge that it’s all in the feet, even on the steepest of pitches or most acrobatic of moves.In winter climbing this is even more the case, but with...

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Tip Number 2: A Tap for Luck image Technique   | Dec 17, 09

Tip Number 2: A Tap for Luck

So we’ve covered testing a tool in tip one, but how about a step beyond just testing?  Again, imagine you’ve got to make a move off a stance, perhaps a very big move, and you only have one pick hooked into a patch of dirt, or in a patch of soft neve.  Maybe your last runners a long way below you and you can’t afford to fall. What do you do?One very handy technique - and one I’m not sure if it’s sporting - but then neither are two broken legs...

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Pushing the Limits - A series of tips to improve your winter grade image Technique   | Dec 15, 09

Pushing the Limits - A series of tips to improve your winter grade

It’s that time of year again were you’re glued to the climbing forecasts, digesting winter battle reports from UKC users, and juggling work and families for that amazing winter weekend you’ve been dreaming of since the last one. Most climbers will want to push their grade this winter, going for a classic that’s a bit harder then the classic last year, a test piece, or even a new line.  I thought maybe I could give a few ideas how to do that (I am mr top tip after all).With all the banter on...

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Open letter to Stevie Haston image Dark-Half  | Dec 14, 09

Open letter to Stevie Haston

Dear StevieHad a great idea this morning. I think you should get in touch with Ken Russell (film making version of Ken Wilson… but who looks like Ian Smith) and talk about doing a film of your life.Think it would be amazing, like The Devils meets Women in Love (you and JIm Perrin wrestling naked in front of MSR stove springs to mind), maybe with a hint of Tommy thrown in (you used to have Roger Daltry hair in the early days).I’m thinking of a musical of your life, with big musical numbers with you and...

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The Horror image Dark-Half  | Dec 13, 09

The Horror

Mark Kermode’s review of Paranormal Activity the other day included feedback from a lot of people and reviewers who’d been very effected by the film.  It got me thinking about horror films I’ve seen that went beyond the normal film horror, into the kind of experiences that stay with you for ever.I’m a huge fan of what I’d call subtle mind terror, the kind of film or program where the horror is locked in your head, not on the screen, films were you see very little, leaving it up to your brain to...

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Diasy Chain question image Technique   | Dec 11, 09

Diasy Chain question

Hey Andy, I was reading through your article on basic big wall gear. You said that you should larks head your daisy chains around your belay loop and not through your waist and leg loops. I was curious as to why? I’ve always gone through the waist and leg loops because I figured that you tie in through there, and the belay loop runs through both, so you have a redundant system.I’m not trying to be argumentative (and I sure hope I don’t sound that way!)I’m just trying to learn more!Thanks!PaulHi...

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Summer Alpine Bags: How light is too light? image Gear  | Dec 10, 09

Summer Alpine Bags: How light is too light?

Hi Andy Just wanted to quickly pick your brains on sleeping bags.  At the minute I have two sleeping bags, one is a lightweight RAB quantum 250 and my other is a RAB summit 900.  I tend to sleep quite warm so for summer alpine routes I’ve got a couple of options one is that I use my quantum 250 with a lightweight bivvy bag (would this put me at risk from getting very cold/dead?) or I could use my quantum 250 with my shiny silver survival bag thing which would increase the warmth and it’d hopefully give me some protection...

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Ultimate Gnarl Bag image Gear  | Dec 08, 09

Ultimate Gnarl Bag

Hi BobThe bag I’m messing with is a Wiggy’s Super Lite I bought a few years ago for a trip to Alaska, which I’ve stripped of its outer shell, zipper and hood, and sewn into a prototype Alpkit Epic bivy bag.WIggy’s are a strange company, a bit of a maverick in the outdoor gear world (jerry Wigglow’s rants are well worth seeking out on their website for their anti gear establishment views).  I was recommended their bags by the ultra hardcore dog sledder Gary Rolfe, who’d used them in some very...

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