"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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Recently some book recommendation came my way courtesy of Amazon's marketing ploy. I've picked a habit of checking their "customers who bought this also bought" recommendations. Which is where I noticed Andy Cave's "Learnign to Breathe" and "Thin White Line".

As I had read Mick Fowler 's books not too long ago, the name immediately sounded somewhat familiar given that Andy was part of the same tragic Changabang expedition featuring in one of Fowler's book. As I found out that both of Cave's books are highly acclaimed, I went on bought both of them. So far I am in the middle of "Learning to Breathe" but already it's safe to say that it was money well spent.

Standards compliance

I recently noticed that Internet Explorer (including Internet Explorer 7) did a pathetic job of displaying this very site; (at least) all unordered (ul) and ordered lists (ol) were displayed incorrectly. This seems to be caused by IE:s inability to process such elements correctly whenever they are located within floated elements.

Which is rather sad given that many pure-CSS layouts rely on floats to build the layout. Which is the case with this site as well. To make matter worse, there's no real solution to remedy this. Fortunately upcoming Internet Explorer 8 (currently available as beta 2) seems to finally fix this.

However, since lists are heavily used on this site and lack of bullets and improper indents can seriously impair the readability of some of the pages, I added IE conditional comments along with CSS targeted to IE7 that fix this problem. At least up to the point where the layout is at least pretty close to what it should look like.

I also changed the mime-type to application/xhtml+xml which is what is recommended for xhtml 1.1. I am well aware that this may cause issues with old browsers. Tough shit. Furthermore, references to xhtml 1.1 schema are now added to html-root element.

Multi-pitch efficiency

  • Lead in blocks. Leading in blocks reduces the wait time, as it distributes leading and belaying more evenly (timewise, that is). This is very significant during the winter. It also often means less need to swap gear at belays if the pitch took less than half the rack.
  • Limit the number of belays. On multi-pitch routes very easy way to save loads of time is to build as few belays as possible. Usually this means using the full length of the rope. Naturally this isn't always feasible, but aim to run full rope length before placing the belay. Sometimes simul-climbing or soloing may be called for for the easier sections.
  • Get efficient on belays. By far the easiest way of shaving off time is at the belays. The key here is not so much to do things as fast as possible, it's more important to do the right things and nothing more. Stuff like building a belay so that no fumbling with it is necessary when continuing upwards, handling a rope when bringing up the second so that no recoiling is needed, efficient way of swapping gear, the second starting to clear the belay as soon as the leader is secured (in ice this means the first solid screw is placed) etc. make a lot of difference.
  • Make do with a single pack (if at all possible). Leading with a pack is so not my favorite thing to do, especially if the climbing is anywhere close to my limit. If you can't get by with just one bag, use small leader's pack and large second's pack.

The Alps

I just noticed there is a newish climbing-related film available in Blu-Ray: The Alps: Climb of Your Life . It was originally shot as Imax, so the feature length is substantially less than the is the case with typical films. Furthermore, it is more of a document than a feature film.

Just as one might expect from a HD transfer of a Imax film, quality of shooting as well as picture quality leave very little room for improvement.