Latest Post

20 November 2018

The Idea not the Gear

Hello Mr. Kirkpatrick, My name is Jalen ___. Let me start by saying that I am hugely grateful for all the material you have put out there, both for free online and in your books. Whenever I have a gear question, I look it up online or ask my mentors and friends, and most every time either one of your articles pops up or I am referred to your work, which has helped me immensely. I have a question regarding softshells. I have been reading through...

What cams to buy?

17 November 2018

Q&A: What cams to buy?

Hi Kyle There is such a huge choice when it comes to cams it can be pretty bewildering these days! A good start when sorting through what to buy is to consider the following points: 1. Strength: How good are you cams at holding you in a fall? Well, they’re all good, and all standard cams pass minimum CE testing for rock protection, and in an...

Self Lining

18 October 2018

Technique : Self Lining

Maybe it’s a sign of our busy times that the subject of self-lining or solo top roping crops up a lot, strange work shifts, no midweek partners, or partners at all, leading to people wishing to get out and do something. Just going out soloing is an option for some, but not ideal if you’re wanting to push, or work things. And so self-lining...


18 September 2018

Opinion: Analogue

There are many people in the world who others want to send down to the lowest circle of hell, dictators, warlords, the odd world leader or two. But out here, on the outer rim of Europe, in the city of Galway, my father and mother in law take a very Irish view on these things. Here in Galway, a city made famous by Ed Sheeran (the patron saint of...

MSR Advanced Pro 2

17 September 2018

Review: MSR Advanced Pro 2

I’ve been a big fan of single wall tents since I scored a BD Bibler I tent in the mid 90’s, finding I could put up with its short comings - space and condensation - in return for a tiny footprint, ease of use and weight (1.95 kg). Before that, I’d just done what most UK climbers did when climbing mountains and made use of huts, snowholes and...

Racist Hair

16 September 2018

Opinion: Racist Hair

I’d see the kids most days, hanging around the tap, filling their big plastic bottles then slowly walking home, bare feet, asbestos to the jagged Namibian desert; always smiling, moving, jumping, elbowing. Seeing them made me think about other children, sat in palaces – zombied eyed –  thumbs that twit the limbs that move, moving...

The Invisible Wall

15 September 2018

Opinion: The Invisible Wall

Once heard a story the North Koreans building an invisible wall, 5m high, 10m thick, that ran for 240km across the DMZ, designed to protect its people from the South. It was said that North Koreans would look out at this invisible wall & believe it was there because their Supreme Commander said so. Doubt leads to hard labour. I find people who...


13 September 2018

Opinion: Reprehensible

I remember when I climbed Moonlight Buttress with Alex Jones back in 2014, I had several messages from people in the US who thought it was the other Alex Jones. At the time I didn’t know there was another Alex Jones, but once I checked him out on Youtube I was glad I’d climbed with the Welsh one, not the crazy shouty one. Back then if...

Clove Hitch Issue

24 June 2018

Q&A: Clove Hitch Issue

Hi Tony Sorry for late reply! I’m not a big fan of clove hitches in any situation where they can take very high forces as they have little capacity to absorb any shock at all, plus they can bind in such a way that it does cause some melting on the sheath (this is cosmetic I think). A bigger problem is that the way the knot works you can end up...

Don’t Drive at Night

22 June 2018

Opinion: Don’t Drive at Night

Parked up at services in the Free State, a taxi van pulls up beside us, and the driver gets out, letting his passengers stretch their legs. A gun sticks out from the waistband of his trousers, the concealed carry holster clipped into his belt, although it was there for all to see as he stood talking on his phone. The wall-nut grip looked well used...

Life’s Bearing

18 May 2018

Opinion: Life’s Bearing

In a lot of countries, people talk about ‘God botherers’, people who come around unannounced and talk at you, very often not about God, but about themselves, not about Him, but Them. In Ireland, where even fully fledged Dawkinsian atheists believe in ‘something’, there is little need for such religious interrupters - it’s just a visit...

Pounds and Pence and Pages

16 February 2018

Book: Pounds and Pence and Pages

My new book Unknown Pleasures comes out this week, published by multi-awarding winning Sheffield publisher Vertebrate. When this news appeared on UKC, I noticed this comment: “AK is a great climbing writer, and I would like to read this. However, £24 for 256 pages is £1 for every 10/11 pages. Ouch.” I’ve known Jon Barton at VP for a long...


09 February 2018

Opinion: Smile

Every generation has something that can crack the childish reality a young mind - not all young minds - but only minds strong enough to be changed; ready to change. The age of modern mass media, starts with the translation of the Bible, from Latin into the native tongue, an event that sets the modern world of easily accessible knowledge into...

Extreme DIY  Balaclava

25 January 2018

Gear: Extreme DIY Balaclava

I was asked the other day about the one piece of gear that I used that’s most heavily modified, the conversation one on perfect gear. I thought about it for a minute, thought about all the kit I make on my sewing machine, bivy bags, sleeping bags, bags for stoves, strange pockets sewn into underwear to take phones and iPods (so they don’t...

Not bloody snowshoes

18 January 2018

Gear: Not bloody snowshoes

“Are your skis like snowshoes?” asked my mate Barney, as we rode the chairlift up from Les Houches, nodding at my short fat skis, 60cm shorter than his 190s. “No - they’re real skis, they’re great”, I replied, feeling a bit defensive of my little unconventional terrors. Barney looked a little harder, then shaking his...

Goggles Question

28 December 2017

Q&A: Goggles Question

Hi Goggles are a tricky but if you stick to a few simple rules they can work pretty well, but they take work. Here’s a list of random thoughts. Buy good quality goggles that fit your face and fit under a helmet. You don’t need to spend a fortune (there are many fashion goggles), and I use Julbo Bang Next with a Zebra lens, which costs around...

Flesh Turns Black

17 December 2017

Opinion: Flesh Turns Black

I've not been able to write much creativity while finishing Higher Education, and so have been using Instagram as a substitute - the 2000 letter limit a good way not to get sidetracked. Most things I write about are the first thing that comes to my head as I wake up, and last week the first thing I saw was a picture of Ben Fogle (see below), and so...

Belay Jackets Revisited

09 December 2017

Gear: Belay Jackets Revisited

The two questions I get asked most regularly via this blog involve either cordelettes or belay jackets - the cord ones about ‘how thick’, ‘how long’ and ‘how best to use’, which is funny when really a cordelette is just - well - a length of string. The belay jacket questions tend to come thick and fast as the nights draw in, as people...

Finding Partners

25 November 2017

Q&A: Finding Partners

Hi John People often ask me why I used to solo so much, Alex Huber (no mean soloist himself), even going so far to suggest it was some form of self-sabotage (two solo attempts on the Harlin must mean I don’t want to climb the Harlin!).  In reality, the reason for all these solo trips (Troll Wall, Alps, Yosemite) was that I either just...