Skip to main content
Latest Post

10 January 2017

Winter Novice Kit

Hi Andy,  I hope you are well. I was wondering if I can get some advice from you? I have managed to save up a little bit of money, so that I now have a few months to get a lot more capable at climbing and being in the mountains. I have done a fair bit of walking, but mostly summer, and boulder at about v4-5. I would like to convert this to being able to climb a few alpine peaks in the summer, and some winter routes in the UK.   I'm planning...

“This is what you get”

09 January 2017

Opinion: “This is what you get”

I have read your essay “From one writer to another” now a dozen times, maybe more. It enrages, infuriates and inspires me more than anything I have read in awhile. I want to yell at you, scream at you, curse you out for so accurately describing how I write, without even knowing who I am. I can’t, because in reality, I don’t hate you, I...

Learned helplessness

17 November 2016

Opinion: Learned helplessness

The CIA are masters of interrogation, techniques they exported far and wide, used by their friends and their new enemies.  Torture can take many forms; water, sleep, a commercial meat slicer, the rape of your child in front of you.  It comes in many flavours, the most brutal of which is no doubt nothing to do with the information...

Rope Drag

16 November 2016

Technique : Rope Drag

Rope drag is one of the critical components of safe, efficient and effective roped climbing, following close behind lead protection and belaying.  In the past, runners (gear placed on lead) were kept to a minimum, with only half a dozen pieces being placed.  Added to this pitches tended to be short, a forty five metre rope the standard,...

Dear Ella & Ewen

14 November 2016

Opinion: Dear Ella & Ewen

Dear Ella and Ewen I read a letter today by Aaron Sorkin, from him to his daughter, it made me cry, christ it was funny, what a kind of father writes stuff like that to thier own child? I’d send you a link but I know you only watch Youtube, but you’d have pissed yourself (maybe when I see you on Thursday I’ll read it out in my winy...

When I was Seventeen

12 November 2016

Writing: When I was Seventeen

To be brave on a mountain is most often seen as a noble thing, that person someone to look up too, to aspire to be like, bravery after all the key to life, fear the lock to almost everything of any value.  Yet on a mountain you risk very little, only your life, or a broken bone or ten, but what does it matter?  When you hang around such...

White Space

11 November 2016

Writing: White Space

Someone asked me the other day what I meant by ‘white space’ in my story On Tunnel Mountain.  White space of course is a term used in book and magazine layout to describe areas of bare white paper, often denoting a light touch, a little confidence that less is more, gives the marks you do make more weight.  In writing and story...

Cordelette Question

10 November 2016

GearQ&A: Cordelette Question

Hi I’m guessing you’re talking about dyneema cord and not 240cm slings? Well I think even if your dyneema cord gets worn, bent and tied a great many times, it’s still going to be strong enough (5.5mm: 13.7 Kn) compared to perlon cord (7mm 12.4 Kn).  The main issue with dyneema is probably the cost, while its real advantage is that...

She Walks Away

09 November 2016

Opinion: She Walks Away

“She’s got a nice body” said Vanessa, nudging her head towards the waitress as she moved around the Banff centre tables, adding she’d seen her that morning in the swimming pool.  I instinctively felt offended, my back straightening up righteously, lemon lips in angry pout, at such base objectification - sexist - misogynistic.  But...

On Tunnel Mountain

08 November 2016

Opinion: On Tunnel Mountain

The Banff book festival. Tony introduces me and with some small applause as I stand and walk over to the wooden podium, a nice piece of solid Canadian wood, my shoe laces undone. The audience, tidy, sat in neat rows, look like a good bunch, a clever bunch, not too much trouble - I hope.  “I’d like to begin with a poem’ I say, which...

Long Runs The Fox

01 November 2016

portraits: Long Runs The Fox

I first met Ricky Bell in the dust of Camp 4.  I forget the year.  Ricky is one of those people you meet in life, one minute unknown, the next - never to be forgotten. I’ve met a lot of legends, some that knew it and weren’t, groaned under their untruth, others who were - the best - who didn’t even know it. It’s a testament to...

Coming Home

30 October 2016

Q&A: Coming Home

Hi Will Sorry for the late reply (I think this is coming a year after I got your email, so if you’ve topped yourself with post climbing frustration - my apologies). I’m sat writing this on a plane that has no TV’s (an Air Canada flight that’s so old we have wooden seats and the entertainment is a guy playing a piano), so this could end up...

Fucking words

28 October 2016

Writing: Fucking words

Hi Andy. I’ve been reading your blog for years.  Big fan and supporter of your published work as well - just received your printed copy of 1001 climbing tips actually. But I gotta say today I read your most recent post “From One Writer to Another” and it really left me with WTF?  Why so bitter and dismissive? Makes me...

From one writer to another

27 October 2016

Writing: From one writer to another

The problem is you think you have a voice, but you don’t.  You think you have your own thoughts and ideas, but you don’t.  You think you’re a radical, that the world is against you and your politics, but really you’re a conformist. You think the world needs to catch you up, that it’s stupid, immoral,...

Chongo by the power

26 October 2016

portraits: Chongo by the power

“I wake each morning filled with hate” said Chongo as I stood to leave the table, a wincing self indictment the punch line to the ‘stupidity’ and ‘obedience’ of his fellow Americans, sat on tables all around us in the Yosemite lodge cafaeria, shovelling down their pancakes before hitting the trail.  I laughed, like it was a joke,...

Difficult People

20 September 2016

Q&A: Difficult People

Sitting on a plane, alone, heading for yet another solo trip to Yosemite, it’s funny to answer this question as one the main reasons for solo climbing is this very question! Stalin used to say, “No people - no problem”, and this is most definitely true on a mountain trip or expedition.  People are generally always the weak link, and...

The Night Swim

16 September 2016

Opinion: The Night Swim

We shuffled down the steep trail in the gloom, sore toes blindly knocking into stumps and stones, six hundred metres sore.  Up the Chief we’d gone, slab and crack and things in between.  We stubbornly leave off our torches, that’s what we’re like, her and me, as bad as each other, no doubt leading each other astray, but who wants to...

First time in the Alps

08 July 2016

Q&A: First time in the Alps

Hi Thanks for the questions.  I’ll try and answer each one in turn as best as I can. Should you hire a guide? Well I went to the alps twice and came back with almost nothing done on both trips (both winter trips) in terms of routes climbed, but if I’d been able to afford a guide I’d have climbed a lot of routes and avoided a lot of...

Andy Perkins responds

26 June 2016

Technique : Andy Perkins responds

I had a great response to my crevasse rescue blog (Doing a Bieber) today from IFMGA Chamonix guide Andy Perkins.  I guess re-reading what I wrote it may well look like an attack on traditional instruction, when in fact my point was that too many climbers only do the basics and leave it there (it was also focused on climbers, not skiers). ...