Unexpected smartphone failures in the mountains

I have a controversial opinion: that although smartphones are not a substitute for navigation skills, they can in the right circumstances substitute a physical map and compass. Agree or disagree, if you ever use smartphones in the mountains it is important to be aware of the ways they can fail, some of which are not … Continue reading Unexpected smartphone failures in the mountains

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Successful climbs, successful falls

The best stories happen when things go slightly - but only slightly - wrong. Fortunately these are hugely outnumbered by times when things went right: my incomplete logbook contains around 1700 climbs, of which a few hundred were exciting in a good and safe way. The reporting bias on this blog is extreme. How do … Continue reading Successful climbs, successful falls

The stupidest thing I ever did on a mountain

Like most climbers at the age of 22, on some subconscious level I thought myself invincible. That particular illusion was nearly shattered on the day I dragged three other guys up a winter route with no equipment. At the time I was going through one of life’s small rough patches and a weekend in the … Continue reading The stupidest thing I ever did on a mountain

The first alpine season

In the beginning were the leisured Victorian gentry, some of whom liked climbing mountains. Of course this wasn’t an acceptable end in its own right, so they claimed to do it FOR SCIENCE™, and travelled the world with their barometers taking summit measurements. Like proto-facebookers, I suspect if they didn’t take a measurement, they didn’t … Continue reading The first alpine season

Mistakes in Mountains, Music and Mastering

By way of contrast to overly crafted social media images, this is a story about imperfect experiences, and how they can still be amazing. The mountaineering in this post is achievable by anybody with reasonable fitness and time for training. The year is 2008, and the journey began at 6am at Bristol Temple Meads with … Continue reading Mistakes in Mountains, Music and Mastering

Kolmogorov Complexity: the Thing that gives Energy to Dance Music

Some of you liked my computer sciencey take on improvisation so I’m going to present a nerd’s view of another topic close to my heart. I’m going to call it musical energy. Perhaps there is a formal term for this, but if so I don’t know it. From a DJ’s perspective, it’s the characteristic possessed … Continue reading Kolmogorov Complexity: the Thing that gives Energy to Dance Music

Automating the Pointless Argument: a short story about fake news, public discourse and structured data

Lucy’s performance review wasn’t going well. “I appreciate you’ve done some quality work this year. That latest batch of medical research updates for example. Must’ve been hella difficult to decide what is and isn’t true for the media and the public, you sure did a good job. But…” There was always a “But”. “TruFact’s workload … Continue reading Automating the Pointless Argument: a short story about fake news, public discourse and structured data