There are some people in the outdoor world who do authentically cool stuff and do it for the right reasons. They work really hard at turning what they enjoy doing into a career that pays the bills, producing consistently high-quality, innovative, thought-provoking, inspiring stuff (books or blogs or photos or films or talks or all these things). They are leaders not followers. They innovate, try new stuff, take risks. Despite building up significant followings, they don’t take themselves too seriously or deem themselves too important for ordinary folk.
These people are very rare – pure gold – and I follow all that they do with interest.
Which is why I’ve just read Andy Kirkpatrick’s 1001 Climbing Tips. I’m not a climber (though I really do want to do a proper climbing expedition), so wading through 19o pages of super-long screws, GriGris, cordelettes and all sorts stuff I did not understand or care about might seem like an odd use of my weekend.
But I learned a lot from this book (as you always do when you turn to a new topic explained by people who really know their stuff). It got me thinking about the way I write my own books and blogs. The design was really good. As you might expect from Andy, the mix of expertise and humour was done well. Was it just coincidence, I wondered, that his tips about Sponsorship and Media were on a page next to Bodily Functions?
A few examples I enjoyed:
- Tell your partner to treat you as a fool when tying in, although saying so will mean you’re not.
- Remember to swing like you screw, kick like you poo.
- If you train harder than you’ll ever climb, then you’ll find the climbing the easy part.
- Never do a dumbbell curl – it does nothing at all.
- There’s great tricks about how to wangle extra-heavy gear bags onto flights without paying excess baggage.
- Leave climbing behind now and again. Try something new, like kayaking, mountain biking or swinging. Sometimes it’s good to be a novice, to remember how to learn new things.
- When navigation is tough and every cell of your body is screaming for you to just ‘get out of here’ – take a deep breath and follow the Kama Sutra: ‘whatever you’re doing, do it at half the speed’.
The book cemented my belief that there are two main reasons I’ve never really taken to climbing:
- I’m scared of dying and loads of people die climbing (which is why climbing books are brilliant).
- I’m too lazy and slapdash to bother spending years learning about super-long screws, GriGris and cordelettes. I prefer adventures where I can just set off tomorrow.
I’d really recommend this book as a gift for anyone with an interest in climbing, either beginners, learners, or wily old pros. Christmas is coming and this would be a welcome stocking gift (along with, I imagine, a GriGri, a cordelette and – perhaps – a super-long screw too).