Latest Post

02 September 2019

A Hunk of Cold Metal

The death of the Silent Partner & alternatives

Hello Mr. Kirkpatrick, I hope you doing well. I´m a climber from Germany doing a lot of rope soloing as well. I have read lot´s of your books. They are really inspiring and funny! I write this email because I have a question to you. I do all my rope soloing with a Grigri 1. It works out very well, but I’m looking for a silent partner from rock exotica. My first question: are they really better for rope soloing then the Grigri 1. I never...

What Harness?

29 August 2019

Q&A: What Harness?

Thanks for the question! Harness selection can be a little over-complex at times, with buyers getting bogged down in details that aren’t really that important in the real world, but ignoring - or being unaware - of things that are really important. I started writing this as Vanessa gets her hair cut, intending it to be a short response, but...

X Wankers

28 August 2019

Opinion: X Wankers

I often joke about Coffee Wankers, the kinds of people who have apps on their phones that tell them to drive five hours to get the perfect cup of coffee; people who think you’re a barbarian for adding milk and sugar (they call that soup); who wake you up at 6am grinding their own fucking coffee beans; people who are generally either grumpy...

Dating Climbers?

25 August 2019

Q&A: Dating Climbers?

Hi I think I’m the last man on the planet to be giving relationship advice (I’m better at stoves and bird beaks), but here goes: My dad, a wise man, when asked a question like yours, would probably say, “that sounds hard, good luck with that”. This kind of answer is annoying at first, as it sucks the oxygen out of the...

Alone at Sea

23 August 2019

Opinion: Alone at Sea

Late in his voyage across the Atlantic in 1956, solo and in an 11 foot Klepper kayak, Hannes Lindemann was caught in a massive storm, and capsized by a giant wave. In the water, in the dark, but tied to his upturned kayak, Lindemann crawled on top and lay there exposed to the wind and the storm. Getting colder and colder, he realised...

Hand Bolting

21 August 2019

Climbing: Hand Bolting

The following is a chapter from my big wall bible Higher Education. The knowledge of how and why bolts and rivets are employed on a big wall is of vital importance, whether you’re making a first ascent or the hundredth ascent. All teams will attempt to keep the number of bolts and rivets to an absolute minimum - the hole count - knowing that to...


18 August 2019

Opinion: H&S

My dad tells a funny story about working in India with street children. He was working for a charity that did outward bound stuff with companies and then used the money to help street kids, but one day a group of kids arrived at the centre, and it was my dad’s job to take them out rock climbing.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣The kids piled into a...

The Crapness Ceiling

13 August 2019

Q&A: The Crapness Ceiling

Thanks for the email, and although I can hear James Mchaffie twitter as I type this (questioning how I’d know anything about E1s), I’ll try to respond. Before I bang out some ideas, I need to own up to the fact that James would be right. I’ve never been a great rock climber, and at best I’ve been an E3 climber. I’ve...


09 August 2019

Q&A: Lanyards

Hi, I’m guessing we’re talking about general climbing here, and some aiding and big wall climbing, which makes things a little easier. Having used just about every lanyard on the market just about, here are my thoughts. What’s A Lanyard For? This might sound like a dumb question, but I see a lot of people with lanyards clipped to...

Last Cup

06 August 2019

900 second blog: Last Cup

The Russians believe you should never begin a journey until you’ve had a final cup of tea, as in waiting for the water to boil, the tea too cool, and be sipped, you might remember something you’ve forgotten. I would add that this also applies to retreat, that what seems unavoidable, even desirable, might feel different after a brew.

Ripping Cams

31 July 2019

Q&A: Ripping Cams

Oh God, this is one of those subjects you get on forums that make my head bleed, where people begin to go on about camming angles and coefficients of friction, all of which have no baring on leg-breaking reality (if you want that then John Middendorf’s CAMS-A Technical Review is the place to start). I guess I’d say that cams are generally...

The Russian Ice Hammock

26 July 2019

Gear: The Russian Ice Hammock

I posted a photo last week on Instagram, of Vanessa, sat inside a tent on the North-East face of the Droites. In the photo, the tent appears to be held in check on an impossible pitch, by nothing but a flimsy piece of green nylon. What’s holding the tent in place is a very obscure and specialist piece of kit called an ice hammock. Whenever I...

The Skinny Skinny

22 July 2019

Gear: The Skinny Skinny

Ever since the once specialised Beal Joker 9.1 mm hit the market well over a decade ago, the diameter of the default single rope has crept down and down, making what was once cutting edge - ropes for people who don’t buy their own ropes - now pedestrian, the kind of thing you’d buy your kids from Decathlon. Twenty years ago I’d say the...


20 July 2019

portraits: Alan

It always seemed like a struggle to come up with words to describe Alan Mullin - one of climbing’s greatest disruptors - mainly because he is dead, hanging himself in a jail cell in Scotland in 2007, and because many of the words I could use were never very kind, which is not odd really, as people who hang themselves in jail cells, more often...

The Practical Climbing Camera

18 July 2019

Gear: The Practical Climbing Camera
Part 1

At a rough guess, I’ve owned over thirty cameras in my life, ranging from the plastic Argos budget models to the rubber-coated magnesium dream cameras, the kind you dreamed of one day owning as you flicked through the Argos catalogue aged fourteen. Unfortunately, I was not a careful owner, and most of these cameras either got smashed, got dropped...

Garmin inReach Mini

10 July 2019

Review: Garmin inReach Mini

I once went to a party with Joe Simpson after a speaking gig, long before the documentary ‘Touching the Void’ had come out. He began telling me loads of funny stories about people’s reaction to his book. I’d seen people visibly angry at Simon Yates in Q&A sessions, about ‘cutting the rope’ so I knew the whole issue was loaded with...

‘Big E (go)’

28 May 2019

Climbing: ‘Big E (go)’

The other day a friend emailed me some questions aimed to help people wanting to head off on their own adventures, covering the often overlooked financial side of things as well how you find the gumption to go on one in the first place.  One question that stood out covered that old chestnut Everest and asked what advice I would give to...

Polar Bear

19 December 2018

Opinion: Polar Bear

When you see a polar bear walking backwards and forwards in a zoo, nodding, it’s obvious it’s mentally ill, depressed, in a hole it can never get out of, its brain turned to mush. And yet it’s safe from all and any harm, from all hunters and the whims of the wilderness, it gets food three times a day, somewhere to sleep every night, the best...


29 November 2018

Review: PHD K Bag

In the last two years I’ve slept under that stars more often than I’ve slept under a solid roof, in places that ranged from the Namib desert to the Alpine winter North Faces, from the summit of Mount Kenya to the walls of El Capitan (53 nights in less than two years!), plus hundreds of nights in dosses legal and less-legal, five and zero star...