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Angels and Demons first ascent

Report of our first ascent of Angels and Demons (IV, 4), An Garbh Choire, Braeriach.

Southern Cairngorms — one of the most remote places in the Scottish wilderness. I remember when I first had a look at a map of the area years ago, I was impressed how far some places were. An attraction of outdoor activities is to go somewhere other people would not, or even could not, go or reach. It is I think a major element in mountaineering, and it certainly is […]

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Masa's perspective of Banana Wall (XII/12)

Greg Boswell made the first ascent of his yet hardest Scottish winter route, Banana Wall, Coire an Lochain, Cairngorms on 25th February 2015, as reported in his own blog post. It can well be the hardest Scottish winter route (grade XII, 12) or even the world, for the trad-protected mixed route. Here is my perspective as the belayer, climbing partner and witness of his feat.

Risk by Dan Gardner

Simon Perry casually posing on a steep cliff

We are all wired to be a stone-age human!
So we react to the risk as wired as our ancestors who run on the savannah in Africa, fleeing away from predator beasts, avoiding poisonous or harmful things like particular plants and something polluted to maximise the chance of survival.

It might be all good as long as one lives such a life alone, relying thoroughly on their instinct, or so called Gut. But we don't. Modern lives are far more complicated.

In this post I summarise, from a climber's perspective, some interesting facts taken from the brilliant book: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner (2009).

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Required strength of belay anchors

A rigging example by Nick Bullock [©Will Sim (2014)]

There was a fatal accident in Yosemite — the circumstantial evidence implies the party placed 4 pieces of gear for the belay, then the leader took a factor-2 fall on the belay, all the gear of which ripped, and as a result the entire party was perished. In that particular case, clearly the belay was not strong enough despite 4 pieces of gear…

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Type-3 fun, or 5 per cent terror

Tue, 2014-08-12 11:49 - The weather cleared up and it has become a nice sunny day.

Kyle saw an orange light tumbling down the steep slope on the glacier and passing him.
He realised, I have got to do something, right now!
Throwing himself at the slope to thrust the pick of iceaxe into snow as deeply as possible.
Unfortunately, that was not enough.
The rope between him and falling Masa became taught.
He was dragged down and he too started to fall…

Force and gravity

Ruler.  (Cropped from the original image by Ejay in http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steel_ruler_closeup.jpg . License: CC Share Alike 3.0)

In this world, the unit is often the source of confusion. Climbing is no exception. As an example, here is an extract from Andy Kirkpatrick's solo attempt in Troll Wall, where he had a hard time as vividly described in his own words:

[After hand-drilling a hole to place a bolt:]

I slid the bolt onto the hanger, then pushed it into the hole, but found it was a little too big to fit easily, so tapped it in with my hammer. I felt it trying to resist, but eventually felt it begin to give way. Then, after only a centimetre, it started to bend.

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