Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Voiding the Warranty

When I was at Rock & Ice, we used to brainstorm about an article or series called "Voiding the Warranty." It was intended to describe the ways creative climbers modify their gear to make it more effective or useful for purposes the manufacturer likely wouldn't condone: turbo-charging stoves for cold, high-altitude conditions or rigging a Gri-Gri for solo climbing are two good examples. Sadly, it never came to fruition, but British climber Andy Kirkpatrick's Psychovertical.com is taking up the torch.

After only a few months online, Psychovertical is the best source on the web for real-world, hard-knocks technique and gear advice for serious climbers. (Climbing magazine's online Tech Tips sections is also packed with good info but is not as well-organized.) Kirkpatrick specializes in cold, serious climbing: winter climbs in the Alps, Patagonia and Alaska, among other nasty places. Such environments tend to sort out the textbook advice and catalog copy from what really works. Bivouac techniques, climbing as a party of three, hauling a pack, leading with a pack, unusual knots, bad rappel anchors—it's all there. Some of Andy's material will be more useful (and understandable) to Brits and climbers in the Alps than to Americans, but it's all worth a look.

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