Review of 40-50L rucksacks for alpine climbing 2018

Rucksacks are in a way the most troubling gear to choose, not because there are so few to choose from, unlike most other climbing gear, but because there are so many! Yet not a single one would be perfect. It is partly because the use varies so much, and different sort of activities demand different types of rucksacks, and partly because some demands are inherently contradictory, such as durability and (light-)weight.

After all a rucksack is just a bag on your back, and so you may argue you could manage whatever you have, as long as its volume is adequate for your use. It is true to some extent, but it is the same as claiming top climbers could climb an E1 with wellies. Yes, they could, but will they if they have a choice? No. Can they climb an E8 with wellies? No.

Rucksacks are arguably the second most important gear after boots or shoes in (alpine) climbing or mountaineering, as you use one all the time on your back often for hours continuously. That means the difference in rucksacks determines whether you can enjoy every moment or you suffer every second. Given you do climbing for fun ultimately (if type-II) and not for the sake of pain, to get a right sack is very important.

Also, with a wrong rucksack, your climbing ability and hence safety in mountains are marginalised, too, compared with otherwise.

Let’s get it right.




Artist's impression of merging neutron stars by ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser (CC BY 4.0)



Risk of Yosemite Bowline Knot

Yosemite Bowline knot is one of the most popular variant of Bowline knots used by climbers, notably for the harness tying-in point. However, there is a significant risk for the knot. Basically, a tiny bit of mistying, or even just a bit of wiggle during a course of a day, could cause a serious weakening of the strength of the knot. Here is my video to demonstrate the point — risk of Yosemite Bowline.

Here is the detailed background, followed by some …



2017年3月下旬、那須のスキー場近くで、教員に引率された7校の高校生山岳部のグループが雪崩にあい、8人(生徒7人、教師1人)が死亡し、40人が重軽傷を負う事故があった。 以下、雪山登山の観点からその論点をまとめる。



Tips for safer scrambling

Scrambling is an activity that is often regarded as exciting, yet not as serious as proper climbing, and as a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoor.
But is it really safe, or safer than climbing?
Here I give a list of safety tips for scramblers, from beginners to experienced.




EU flag

今日、英国にて、EU(欧州連合)からの離脱を問う歴史的な住民投票が行われました。その結果、拮抗した結果(52:48)ながら、EUから離脱することが決まりました。 衝撃の結果でした……。身近に目撃した政治決定という意味では、私の人生最大です。 本稿では、その背景を英国在住の私の観点から見ていきます。


英国は、日本や他の多くの国と同じく間接民主主義制なので、 ある議題をめぐって英国全国民による国民投票が行われることは極めて稀です。 歴史上、これが3回目になります。 1回目は 1975年のEU加入を問うもの、2回目が 2011年の選挙制度改革を問うものでした。

どういう場合に国民投票が実施され、またその結果の強制力がどうであるかは、英国法律上、憲法上の規定はありません。 今回、この国民投票は、英国下院(庶民院)与党の保守党キャメロン内閣によって提案され、 議会にてその実施のための関連特別法律が可決、制定された後、実施が決まりました。

その背景には、EU離脱をそもそもの党是とする、UKIP(英国独立党)が 2014年の欧州議会選挙で躍進し、同議会の英国選出議席中で第一党になったことがあります(UKIP 24議席、労働党 20、保守党 19)。 (EU離脱を問う住民投票を要求する)UKIP党の影響が無視できなくなったことに加え、 保守党党内からの圧力もあり、保守党政府は国民投票実施に踏み切り …


Static ropes for climbing

Climbers in general are, unlike dynamic ropes, not main users of static ropes. The predominant use of static ropes is industrial use, such as, in a work environment of tall buildings, towers (oil-rigging etc) and for ships and tree-climbing. Within sports, apart from marine sports like sailing, it is heavily used in caving and canyoning.

After all, to climb something ground-up, which is arguably what climbing is all about, climbers vitally need dynamic ropes to absorb a shock in potential falls. Even though there is some use for static ropes in climbing as summarised in the text, its use is somewhat limited, though you really want one when you do.

For that reason, the knowledge about static ropes by climbers, as well as stocks of them in climbing shops, tends to be limited, whereas a large number and variety of static ropes are available in the market, which can be confusing. Here is my attempt to summarise what is the feature to look for, and what sort of models are available as of 2016 in the market.


Cross-loading on knots

Image of Bowline knot and standard and cross-loads

Cross-loading — this word may give a chill in the spine of climbers. It is a real terror, be it with a karabiner or knot. In the industry they adopt the simple and very straightforward solution for this. Just use super-strong metal links, a.k.a., absolute bombproof steel maillon rapides, wherever in suspect.

In climbing, whereas the same approach is indeed recommended in some cases like a group activity of abseiling or bottom-roping, the weight, bulkiness and awkwardness in use of steel maillons put off most, understandably and justifiably in many cases. Instead, climbers usually use either a climbing-rated (aluminium) karabiner or knot to bear with cross-loading. We climbers know it is not ideal, but we are also somehow confident they are strong enough for our purposes.

But how confident are you?

I have a look at this issue in this post, along with a recently created video.


How to keep the hands warm in winter-climbing

Image:Gloves for winter activity

Extremities or fingers sometimes get cold during winter climbing. The inevitable requirement in winter-climbing of dexterity with hands does not go well with your wish to keep them warm. Winter climbers somehow must find a solution, which works for you, keeping a good balance in between.

Here I am explaining the principle and theory behind it and the practical tips I have found over the years, which have been either deduced from or backed up with the theory. Have functional hands even in cold, and enjoy glorious winter-climbing!





ごく最近、人類最高の囲碁棋士の一人が、囲碁対戦ソフトウェアに5番勝負で 1勝4敗で破れる、という事件がありました。 衝撃的なニュースでした……。 その背景、そして私の思うところをまとめます。


一般に、人間の思考に近いことを計算機(コンピューター)にさせる場合、それを人工知能(AI: Artificial Intelligence)と呼びます。人工知能の概念自体は、古くからありました。たとえば、鉄腕アトムは、人工知能そのものです。あるいは、アーサー・C・クラークの古典SF『2001年宇宙の旅』では、人工知能ハルが登場します。




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