Following the Smartphones in Hills article, UKH invited me to write an opinion piece, although they published it under a slightly less contentious title - you can read it here.
In 2007 a bunch of us went to climb for two weeks on the uninhabited Scottish island of Mingulay. Click any of these pictures to enter the slideshow. This was back in the days when I lugged a film SLR up sea cliffs - apologies for the lo-fi negative scans...
It seems I’ve been reminiscing about climbing rites of passage – those events that mark a key point in a climbing career, such as first proper leads or the first alpine season. Here’s one not commonly talked about, but that really stuck in my own mind: first committing adventure as the responsible party. Alas it’s … Continue reading Climbing Rites of Passage
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
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
This isn’t about Ogmore’s famous route Exposure Explosion, which I have done on other occasions. The story starts in the same place, though: a secluded ledge on a cliff top where only climbers go, to gear up ready for the famous route, or abseil down to the rest of the crag. Or so I thought... … Continue reading Explosions on Ogmore
By the summer of 1999, I had somehow managed to blag myself a job at an outdoor centre in one of the most beautiful places in the world - Borrowdale. On the radio, one-hit-wonder Sugar Ray had their one hit. They worked us hard, not least because there weren’t enough staff. I remember a three … Continue reading Starting to climb
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
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
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