Upside Down Cock Suck

On the analytics panel on this site I can see a lot of information, from the locations of visitors,  referrals from other sites, how long people stayed, and a whole load of stuff I don’t quite understand (or can be arsed to know what it means).  I get junk mail everyday saying how I can improve my site traffic but really I’m not that fussed, thinking it’s really only there for people to find for themselves. 

One thing I do find interesting, and love checking, is the searches box, so see what word searches led to my site from Google.  I get the usual ones, such as ‘Andy Kilpactrick’ or ‘Andy Kirk Patrick’ and your run of the mill questions such as ‘what is the best cam to buy’, or ‘rope soloing technique’.  But then there are some very funny ones, such as ‘upside down cock suck’ (that led to my Everest article Sucking on a barrel, or ‘goretex is bullshit’ (which lead to The Truth about Gloves.

It’s very interesting to see what people really want to know via this search panel,  so I thought I’d start an irregular column answering ten of these question a month.

Best sleeping mat for alpine bivis

Inflatable foam mats are a no-no for me for alpine bivys unless you’re sleeping inside a bivy tent. The reasons are many.  First off a closed cell foam mat is puncture proof and just about indestructible.  You can stand on it in your crampons, sit on it with ice screws and sharp hardware without it getting punctured, and can even cut it in half it one mat is lost (half each).  Another factor is that on rocky bivys, or ice bivys with lots of rocks perturbing, your mat can get punctured from below as well, granite being very sharp at times.  The slickness of inflatable mats is also a big issue, as it will slip off an ice ledge very quickly, will a foam mat tends to bind and take the shape of the ledge better (it actually sticks to the ice).  If you find yourself on a slopy ledge you’ll discover your mat ends up being more like a slide, having you slip off all night long.  A robust matt can also be employed in all sorts of other tasks, from helping to remove spoil when digging snow holes (throw spoil on the matt and have your partner pull it out), as a splint, a windbreak and many other things.  The inflatable mat is primarily for camping wimps (and when you’re getting old and become more wimpy), and although works well when combined with a foam mat, really has no place in alpine climbing, it’s only real strongpoint being its much lower bulk. 

How to setup a continuous haul line

I’m guessing this is how to do a very long haul using multiple ropes (even if it’s not then it’s a great technique to know). Say for instance you want to haul your bags up all your fixed ropes in a one, rather than haul them belay to belay (making sure the ground is suitable i.e. they won’t get hung up!).  First tie all your ropes together using a reef knot with the tail of the bottom rope about 1 metre long (best make both that long so you don’t do the wrong one).  Now tie off the reef knot using these tails with a double fisherman’s knot.  When the first knot reaches the hauler, get the knot to with an inch of the hauler then attached a jumar below it to take the load.  Release the load on the hauler (so the jumar is activated).  Now untie the fisherman’s knots and take the tail of the loaded rope (with the reef knot still in place), and attached it to the belay.  Now untie the reef knot using the loose end of the now dead rope (the rope through the hauler) to unthread and untie the reef knot (which will come undone easily).  Now take the new rope and pass it through the hauler, lock it off, and start hauling.  I’ve used this technique for hauling bags in a single haul for up to 300 metres (seven ropes) and works brilliantly (no need to lower the pulley and all that crap).

Warmest sleeping bag

The warmest commercial bags would be something like a PDH Hispar 1200 (1200gram fill) with an overbag, or synthetic wise a Wiggy’s Antarctic bag with an overbag.  These are the warmest thing you can get but remember that a sleeping bag is really no warmer than a stainless steel flask.  Put cold things in them and they’ll stay cold, warm things in and they’ll stay warm.  To use a sleeping bag in cold conditions be that in a crevesse on Everest in winter or family camping in the lakes in March, you really need to know how to keep yourself warm (this article by me has some tips)/

Abseiling on dynamic rope

All climber abseil on a dynamic rope, but really they are designed for leading, not abseiling, a static rope being more built for abuse and heavy use.  A static will last much longer and has a sheath better able to handle abrasion and abuse.

What’s the difference between a bivvy and a bothy

There are tons of articles on this site about bothy bags and bivying, and it’s not an either/or item.  On an alpine route you really need both, while for UK hill walking I’d only go with a bothy (I would always take a bothy), perhaps taking the bivy as well if it was a long trip.  Bivy bags are simply a sleeping bag cover, that keeps water, rain, snow and condensation of your bag and so are vital for open bivys, and handy for bivys in damp tents, snow holes or caves (they also keep your bag clean).  In terms of survival if you were in the shit then getting into a bothy with a mate would be far greater an advantage than shivering your ass off in a bivy bag your mate lying beside you.  In a bothy you share body warmth, can keep moral up, and be less prone to just ‘lying down to die’, which can only be a good thing!

Modern body belay

All climbers should know how to do a body belay, just wrapping the rope around their waist or shoulder, especially for alpine climbing when moving together (also handy if you drop your belay device).  This technique should be backed up with a solid understanding of the Munter (italian) hitch as well, both for belaying the second and the leader.

Yes you can but I’ve avoid doing this in warm weather or for extended periods as screws melt out of the ice in such conditions, and make sure you have two or three screws well equalised and check them regularly.  A better option would be to use a ice thread as your primary anchor backed up by screws or more threads, as these do not melt out and are higher strength than the screws. 

Best rated fleece wool glove liners

Wool liner are nice but tend to wear out very fast, like in an hour or two, much faster than synthetic liner (polyprop or powerstretch).  The heavier weight wool gloves make very good liners and can be tougher and warmer than their synthetic counterparts, and have more ‘stick’ on snowy rock, but have the drawback of taking longer to dry.  A couple of pairs of cheap wool work gloves is always worth buying.

What size cams to get with first climbing rack

This depends on where you climb and what rack you already have.  The main thing to do is lay out your rack in size order and see where the gaps are, which in terms of cams tends to be where you biggest nuts stop.  The Camalot 1, 2 and 3 are good base sizes to consider as they cover sizes bigger than your nuts, from off finger to a bit smaller than fist (30mm to 90mm’ish), and if I had to choose one it would probably be the Camalot 2 (yellow).  The old staple first buy cam used to be the Wild Country size 2.5 Friend which has a range of 33mm to 55mm so this is a cam range worth considering (there is a article here on how to build a cam rack).

So there you go, ten replies to ten searches, and I hope in there there was something worth your time.  Oh and as for the question ‘upside down cock suck’ you’ll find your answer to what that is here on Youtube : )

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Andy Kirkpatrick

Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.

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