•January 28, 2007 • Leave a Comment


“Climbing at Castle Hill is like monogamy, perhaps it seems counter-intuative, but ultimately it’s much more satisfying”






















Indian Creek

•January 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment



“The finest quality of this stone, these plants and animals, this desert landscape is the indifference manifest to our presence, our absence, our coming, our staying or our going. Whether we live or die is a matter of absolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert.”

Edward Abbey – Desert Solitaire









Castleton Tower

“It seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life-forms.”

Edward Abbey – Desert Solitaire










Incredible Hand Crack

IHC is perfect hands, perfect 5.10 on laser cut desert sandstone in a movie set landscape of rattle snakes, turkeys, bats and dust devils. A landscape where you can see to the horizon and almost feel like you could see beyond.





How to make a wax bomb

•January 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment


1. Remove any articles from wax, such as wicks.

2. Find a suitable container and put the wax in it (old baked beans cans are good, the bigger the better).

3. Place can on a strong heat source like a camping stove (not the stove element inside your house).

4. Heat until the wax melts into a clear liquid.

5. Get ready with a small amount of water, about a shotglass worth per couple of candles.

6. When the wax starts to combust, popping small flames, crouch nearby and tip in the water.

7. Jump out the way. For a big bomb you’ll need to attach your water vessel to the end of a long stick.

Little Adventures

•January 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Little Barrier Island


I didn’t even want to try this route – until Martin had a go and got pretty high. It looked scary and there was a seal doing somersaults in the water below us. We were a long swim away from our little grassy picnic spot back around the coast. But you know how when your mate falls off something and you can sort of envisage the moves, and what the holds might feel like……well, on my second go at the crux, everything just clicked and I felt a good flow from there right up into the little finishing cave, climbing on sight, solo, on a first ascent, no ropes or chalk or gear, no sickly feeling that you’ll die if you fall off – just pulling moves on that beautiful smooth purple rock, seaweed swirling in the currents below, waiting for me to take the plunge…



•January 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

In Sichuan the women are the most beautiful, the food the most delicious

In September 2006, we went to China to explore the Qionglai range in Sichuan province. We made the first ascent of a beautiful, big granite mountain, made some great friends and escaped into the role of travellers in Asia for two months.dagou-valley.jpgdagou-valley.jpg


This valley is used by a local family to graze yaks during summer. They leave them in the upper basin to roam freely among the boulders and meadows, the steep valley walls form a natural enclosure.

Above them, at the very head of the valley, stand the Dagou peaks. A big landscape – of rock, snow and sky.


This is the line we climbed on the south face of Dagou West.

The route is 800m or so long with perfect granite free climbing leading to an exposed ridge traverse and then some snow fields to the summit.



Beneath the west face of Seerdengpu.

An unclimbed giant.

The Barbarian.

Still waiting…






Tong Huay runs a bar in Rilong town called the Ice – Rock.

He makes all of his money during the two week long national holidays when his place is over-run by holiday-makers from the cities.

The rest of the year he plays his drums, hangs with his wife, walks his dogs and smokes his pipe.

He also knows where the best Mein-Kwa in town is.


These girls helped us out when we first got to town. Found us a great place to stay and taught us how to order Tsing-Tao beer….


This is Rilong town.

Rilong is a working canvas of changing government policy and public opinion. The government near-legislated the town a tourist destination for Chinese vacationers in 1994, declaring the park “the state key place of scenic interest.” To accommodate visitors large and gaudy hotels were built; mirrored walls and pagoda roofs accented with gold chrome stand like street fronts in a western town, hiding broken and sometimes primitive interiors.

The locals (Tibetans) see the changes as a mixed blessing, but most harbour a definite (and justified) sense of resentment toward the Chinese people.

This turned out to be beneficial to us when Mr Ma, longtime local resident, was willing to help us sidestep some shifty local beauracracy concerning national park “fee’s”.


Map of the Qionglai range.

Chinese military topographical maps exist but are hard to come by, a line drawing map like this one is the best we could find.