Holyhead Mountain – Gogarth’s Little Brother

Holyhead Mountain – Gogarth’s Little Brother

  For most people the word Gogarth strikes the fear of god into them, loose intimidating sea cliffs that will destroy the sternest of resolves. The cliffs reputation is fairly well earn, however there is a shallow end to the pool and that place is Holyhead Mountain. A mere stones throw away from the main cliff but a million miles in terms of the types of climbing you are likely to find and the number…

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Ascent of Man – Pre-Historic: Otzi the Ice Man and the Sacrificial Mountain

Ascent of Man – Pre-Historic: Otzi the Ice Man and the Sacrificial Mountain

As a child of the television age, I was very much brought up on a heady mix of MTV, David Attenborough Documentaries and the National Geographic Channel. It was on the National Geographic Channel that in the late 1990s I saw a documentary about child sacrifices on a mountain summit. Promptly forgetting about it, until starting to research the history of climbing and mountaineering to try and arrive some routes to visit as I travelled…

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Ogwen: A Novice Navana Unchained

Ogwen: A Novice Navana Unchained

The time is brutal o’clock, the sun has yet to pop even a toe over the horizon and we are already moving in our 6ft bubble of light. Walking at first but we know what the day holds for us, so we have a spring in our step. As we zig-zag up to the col we look down into the back of the Carneadau as dawn is starting to stir. We laugh at the four…

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Cliff Assault on West Penwith

Cliff Assault on West Penwith

Land’s End is about as far away from anywhere as John O’Groats, and driving the A30 can feel like some form of purgatory at the end of long drive just to get to Exeter, but rest assured the rewards are exponentially better than the suffering. Stuck out on the end of the limb is West Penwith made up of rugged bullet hard Granite Cliffs, seperated by some of the most stunning beaches, harbours and coastline…

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The Evolution of Climbing Gear #14 – The Media

The Evolution of Climbing Gear #14 – The Media

I the course of this column I have looked at how technology and design has directly effected rock climbing and mountaineering. Along the way we have seen that there has been many heroes who have transformed rock climbing from a sport for the daredevils to one that is now almost mainstream. If you will grant me the licence to step outside the tangible cause and effect and instead look at how technology has affected the…

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The Evolution of Climbing Gear #10 – Winter gear #3

The Evolution of Climbing Gear  #10  – Winter gear #3

Since Eckenstien’s Crampon and the change to rubber soles and in particular the Vibram which was designed by Vitale Bramani in 1937. Who turned to design a better mountaineering boot sole, after six of his companions lost their lives mountaineering. Part of the contributing factors in the accident was the lack of decent footwear for mixed rock and ice terrain. His design was to use the same process Pirelli employed in manufacturing tires. His ideas…

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The Evoltuion of Climbing Gear #9 – Winter Gear #2

The Evoltuion of Climbing Gear #9 – Winter Gear #2

Last time we introduce the ice axe and the nailed boot, the de facto winter climbing equipment for nearly 100 years. It was generally a pastime for the upper classes although a few of the higher classes of workers were starting to filter through. One person in particular was Oscar Eckenstein a railway engineer would go onto revolutionise winter climbing as not only did he introduce technological innovation he also backed it up with a…

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The Evolution of Climbing Gear #8 – Winter Gear #1

The Evolution of Climbing Gear #8 – Winter Gear #1

Whilst we have focused mainly on the development of summer climbing equipment, it was more likely that winter equipment was designed prior to this, as rock climbing itself is just a mere evolutionary branch of mountaineering, which started its development in the Alps. Whilst we know that the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786 was made with little more technology than a normal wood axe or ‘ice hackett’ and a simple wooden stick with…

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The Evolution of Climbing Gear #7 – The Karabiner Story Cont.

The Evolution of Climbing Gear #7 –  The Karabiner Story Cont.

We have already talked about how Otto Herzog first developed climbing specific karabiners in 1910 and how steel was used until the secret of hardening Aluminium was discovered by Wilm. What we have not told is the story of how their design has been tweaked and modified since. To a point where we now have specialist karabiners depending on whether we are sport, or trad climbing. Whilst we take for granted nowadays that all karabiners…

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The Evolution of Climbing Gear #6 – 21st Century Dodos

The Evolution of Climbing Gear #6 – 21st Century Dodos

Like in many aspects of life for every idea and design that stand the test of time there are ten times the amount that fail to take off, simply don’t work or they become obsolete. Whilst some of this comes down simply to a bad idea, others reasons for failure is the new designs fail to obey the notion of Occam’s Razor where each time we shave something off a design it should become simpler…

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