"Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall - it's great when you stop."

Chris Darwin

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Size matters

This winter has been extremely disappointing for us Finns willing to climb ice. Actually you pretty much need the calendar to know, that it, indeed, is mid winter, not early autumn as the weather has been plenty misleading. Should winters go on like this, retailers should probably forget about long screws and only stock 10 and 13 cm versions; there's not much use for the 16 or even 22 cm screws when your drink has more ice than local ice falls.

Lucky for me then, that since I happened to own a pair of recalled Petzl Sharken crampons, I decided to take single 10cm Petzl Laser Sonic ice screw as part of the compensation for returned crampons. I initially though that that screw wouldn't see much action. How wrong I was! This year I've placed it on most of my leads, to the point that I went on and bought another one, this time Black Diamond Express. Seems like American 10cm is more than 1cm shorter than the French one.

Although 10cm screws don't look like much, if you only have 10cm thick layer of ice, those certainly are the best options, much stronger than tied of 16 or 13 cm screws. Furthermore, fully sunk 10cm is way preferable to 13cm screw that made a little too close contact with underlaying rock. Saves plenty of money as well. Obviously quality of the ice is even more paramount to the strength of the placement than is the case with longer screws, though.

Vertical Pleasure

After reading some very interesting stories about the climbing life of Briton Mick Fowler, that can safely be described as eventful, not to mention hardcore, I decided it was time for me to buy his autobiography Vertical Pleasure: Early Climbs in Britain, the Alps, the Andes and the Himalaya.Fowler, MickBaton Wicks Publications2006This is the first set of mountaineering memoirs of one of Britain's leading mountaineers that was shortlisted for the Boardman/Tasker Award and published in Britain and the United States. Fowler describes his full development as a climber initially under the tutelage of his widowed father, then with school friends in London, then to Britain's more esoteric haunts, (sea stacks and far flung ice climbs) and finally in the Alps, the Andes and the Himalaya. Mick Fowler, who works for the Inland Revenue, is now recognised throughout the world as one of the most innovative and widely travelled mountaineers of his era. With job and family life making all the normal demands, his big climbing ventures have to be squeezed into tight holidays. Despite this he has pulled off some of the finest climbs and first ascents of recent years that are envied by his fellow mountaineers for their shrewd esoteric selection, grandeur and bold challenge.97809385674009780938567400Vertical PleasureBiographyen.

Turned out that buying that wasn't nearly as straight-forward as I expected. amazon.co.uk offered it for a bargain prize of £75.00. Most of my usual suspects don't seem to list that at all and those that do offer prices even higher than Amazon, culminating in thoroughly affordable $350.00 at Chessler Books. Surely it is supposed to be superb read according to reviews (eg. Vertical Pleasure), but $350 sure is steep. Finally I stumbled on Antiqbook, which offered it for much more reasonable € 29.50 + shipping. Not exactly affordable either, but not too astronomic.

For brief foretaste, read the article The Secret Life of a Tax Collector: Climbing Mountains.

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