blog

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


Winter Strides image Gear  | Nov 08, 09

Winter Strides

HiWhat you wear on your legs really makes a big difference to how you climb and how you feel while you’re climbing, by which I mean having a pair of strides that restrict and hinder full athletic movement are both a drag on your body and mind and potentially dangerous. More than any other type of climbing, on a winter route you do not want to fall off, and the thing that has the biggest effect on this is being able to climb well and unhindered.  High stepping, bridging and even the odd drop knee make...

read more
Ten ideas on how to hone you alpine psyche image Technique   | Nov 04, 09

Ten ideas on how to hone you alpine psyche

I was emailed by a climber this week asking if I had any ideas on improving your mental attitude for alpine climbing, which I guess means “how do you feel less worried about hurting yourself and push your limit”. So here’s a brief rundown of ideas on how to make you feel Silva Karo.1.  Don’t have kidsI struggle with my alpine psyche just as much as the next climber, and having children and partners and parents who love you doesn’t help. This was brought home to me this year climbing Zodiac with Ian...

read more
slime time image Dark-Half  | May 07, 09

slime time

Spent an interesting few days over in north wales this week, battling the rain and gales with a freelance writer working for Trail magazine called Ben Winston.  We were doing a piece on linking together long scrambles with a bivy in the middle, sort of alpine-style climbing, but in the UK.  One idea was to do a 1000 metres of scrambling, but the weather was terrible, plus a ten-hour drive (arriving at midnight) the day before wasn’t that conducive to being overly psyched.In the end, we set out to do a scramble with Ben and my dad...

read more
Proof of Life image Dark-Half  | Mar 18, 09

Proof of Life

I always seem to have a project or two on the backburner – either climbing related or related to work – and sometimes both.  At the moment my climbing related dreams (and nightmares) revolve around a couple of climbs.  The first is an attempt at getting a paraplegic friend - wounded in Iraq – up El Cap (yes I do seem to be cornering the market for paraplegic El Cap climbing). Phil Packer – like anyone who has to live day to day on a pair of wheels - is a remarkable guy, and not only has he just rowed the...

read more
Writing Books - what I wished I’d known image Literature   | Mar 08, 09

Writing Books - what I wished I’d known

A few days ago I got an email from a guy writing a book and looking for advice and being a new author I thought I’d blog about the things I wished I’d know from the start.So here are a list of random thoughts - hopefully, they may help any authors out there.On writingWriting is not a talent - it’s a skill, and can be learnt by practice and reading the writing of others. Try and create your own style of writing.  For me, I always strive to use as few words...

read more
Training Days image Dark-Half  | Mar 03, 09

Training Days

Lance Armstrong once said, “motivation is nothing without the legs” and this was proved to me on the Eiger this year, were too much work and not enough climbing saw me grind myself to nothing.  So this year I’ve tried to give more time to training and less to work, and so far I’m kind of enjoying it.  Karen’s also training a lot, hoping to get on the paralympic handbike team, and she emailed some words of wisdom on training that I thought really struck a chord with alpinism.  I hope they work for...

read more
Staying Safe image Dark-Half  | Feb 28, 09

Staying Safe

Maybe it’s living with someone who was paralyzed in a climbing accident, reading the emails sent to her by climbers who have also recently been injured, or maybe it’s listening to stories of near misses, close calls, and one or two stories of those that didn’t make it, but over the last few months I’ve been thinking about the consequences of climbing, and more importantly, on the influence people like me have on young climbers (the same applies to anyone climbing in the spotlight).  It’s fine telling of our own epics and near misses,...

read more
Best Glove system? image Gear  | Feb 22, 09

Best Glove system?

There is a great deal of gear that’s crucial when it comes to alpine and winter climbing, in fact, due to its nature - you only carry what is absolutely essential - you could say that it’s all crucial.  But when it comes down to technical climbing there isn’t anything that makes or breaks a route than hand-wear. There are reams of articles on this site dealing with this subject, written over many years, many climbing experiences, and influenced by new trends.  Of these, one of the biggest jumps in performance was the introduction...

read more
The best Axe in the World? image Gear  | Feb 17, 09

The best Axe in the World?

Got an email the other day from Needle Sports (one of the best climbing shops in the UK) asking two questions about ice axes for their website.  They were trying to tie down a definitive answer to the age-old question people ask when buying a new axe.  I’m not sure I helped.a) What you consider the best all-around ice axe for a beginner for Scottish conditions is, one that’ll also cope with the odd trip abroad to steeper watery ice stuff?First off you need to get an axe with the following features for UK...

read more
Signature Product image Dark-Half  | Jan 09, 09

Signature Product

I was looking for a machete this week for Patagonia as I’d heard there’s quite a bit of bushwacking, finding places to camp as you kayak down the coast.  Then Ben Saunders emailed me this link to the signature Bear Grylls knife from Bayley Knifes.  Now everyone from Ray Mears to Lofty Wiseman has these signature products these days, so I got in touch with Nalgene who agreed to put some hard R&D cash to come up with their first signature product - the AK WII system. This is what I said on...

read more