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

Harlin image Dark-Half  | Jan 02, 09


Day ended better than it started. Hardly slept because of the avalanches (a part of my brain didn’t believe I was safe). Meant to start early, but hung on till 12 just in case any slopes went. One did. Started up jugging my fixed rope and hauling my haul bag as I went. Bloody hard work and I can see why Ueli Steck made such a big deal about hauling after his 7 days soloing the young spider.Also ended up running on empty having only eaten 3 Ginger biscuits for breakfast. Tomorrow I’ll learn from today’s lessons and mistakes. ...

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Bad start to the new year image Dark-Half  | Jan 01, 09

Bad start to the new year

What a night!It had been snowing lightly since midday yesterday, then at about 9pm the avalanches started. You could hear them coming from a long way off, sounding like a liquid train. They were funnelling down either side of my bivy and I was congratulating myself on sitting myself up below an overhang. That was until I hot hit by one at around 11pm, swamping half the ledge and forcing spindrift through a tiny vent.And so the rest of the night was pretty rough, laying wondering if that was going to be the worst of it.Then at...

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Eiger limestone image Dark-Half  | Dec 31, 08

Eiger limestone

Had a terrible night - probably due to being knackered. Kept waking up with a song in my head (common stress tick). And the usual wanting to piss (now my cups broke I don’t have a pot to piss in. Worst of all the anchor I’d secured the bivy tent to kept ripping - plus I has the Zip of stones coming down all night (it does seem very warm).Snow was forecast today so I led the first three pitches and left my ropes fixed and Zoomed back to my bivy.The climbing wasn’t too hard...

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below the Harlin image Dark-Half  | Dec 31, 08

below the Harlin

Finally bivyied below the first pitch of the Harlin (Eiger direct). Feel totally bolloxed after a real slog of an approach with 70kg of gear (did it in relays, breaking the load into 3 for the 200 metres up to the first real climbing).The face looks amazing and from the bottom you can see right up to the exit cracks on the 38 route.Not been a very lucky day as al lee broke his £6000 camera (I set off in a storm that seems to have gone), then I dropped the tiny one he lent me to take on the route down...

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Eiger dreams image Dark-Half  | Dec 30, 08

Eiger dreams

So here I am at the Eiger at last and it looks just as scary/amazing as last time. Only now I’ve got a haul bag full of courage and enough food for 10+ nights on the wall.Carried in what felt like a 100kg sack close to the base and hopefully will get underway in the morning. I sort of can’t wait![Posted from my iPhone]

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Radio Day image Dark-Half  | Dec 18, 08

Radio Day

Had a hectic day yesterday, running around London talking on BBC Radio 4’s midweek and then the World Service’s Outlook program.  As anyone who read’s this blog over the last few months will know, my biggest ambition these days is a good nights sleep, but talking the night before at the RCA, then going to the pub afterwards with the students, then sleeping in one of those hotel rooms that have very noisy air conditioning, meant that getting up at 7 am I was a bit groggy.  Not a great start for my first appearance on Radio 4. ...

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Secrets image Dark-Half  | Nov 17, 08


Spent the last few months contemplating a big solo climb - without doubt the hardest route I’ve ever done.  It can’t say what it is because it’s a secret.It’s a secret for a number of reasons.If I tell people my secret they may stop me with either kind words or bad.If I tell people my secret they might go and do it before me, which would take some of the fun out of it.If I tell people my secret I’ll probably fail (it’s never good to tell anyone of...

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The cupboard image Dark-Half  | Nov 01, 08

The cupboard

When I was a kid my brother once locked me in a cupboard in the kitchen, pulling out the cutlery draw so I couldn’t escape.  It was then that I saw that I wasn’t in there alone, seeing a rat skulking in a gap between the unit and the wall. We used to have a bit of a rocky relationship me and my brother Robin, well when we were becoming teenagers anyway.  I talked to him yesterday.  He was in LA and I was in Brecon.  I always wanted to say “I’m...

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4000 Pull Ups image Technique   | Oct 21, 08

4000 Pull Ups

In 2006 I took part in two climbs with my partner Karen Darke, paraplegic for 15 years following a climbing accident when she was 21 (her story is the focus of her book “If You Fall” which you can buy from her website or most bookshops).  When she was ten years old she visited El Cap and told her mum and dad that she would return one day and climb it, not realizing of course what that would mean, being a fairly big job for anyone, let alone someone who has not feeling below the armpits.  Luckily for her, I’d...

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