Simon Cox and me after topping out on one of the lines on Toubkal West a few years back. A day that was on the line!


Adventure… pushing ourselves in the vertical mountain world. Epics… running into problems and challenges that could end in a bad way.


There is often a fine line between a good old adventure that summons all the mental, physical and spiritual strength we possess and an epic that could have serious consequences. What are some of the factors that push us over the invisible line between a challenging adventure and an epic?


Here are three of the most common ways we can find ourselves getting into an epic:


  • Lack of experience – Often times people are too ambition and haven’t done the appropriate apprenticeship in one of the foundational climbing disciplines. An example of this would be jumping straight into multi-pitch trad climbing without having a good amount of single pitch trad under your belt or a good instructor at your side to coach you along. Mountaineering and climbing skills are very much a progression of technical and judgment/discernment skills that build on each other which then allow us to push the limits in more serious environment and on harder and more challenging climbs.


  • Lack of preparation – You really want to go into something with your eyes as open as possible to the reality of the situation. So, when getting on a mountain route for example, you want to do your homework, get a good route and descent description, check the weather reports/forecasts, etc. The 5 P’s are essential: poor preparation leads to piss poor performance!


  • Lack of Flexibility – people often get into trouble due to not being able to hold things lightly. They have tunnel vision about a particular route or adventure and get too focused on it. This is a recipe for disaster as the mountain/climbing environment is always changing… weather, route condition, your personal performance levels… the list goes on. If we can hold things a bit more lightly and have a plan B, C, D etc. in our back pocket then, when something isn’t right for our first objective, we let it go and move on to something else.


One thing we can always be working on, of course, is our level of preparation so that we don’t fall into trap 2 above. To help with this, check out a brilliant resource for mountaineering and rock climbing produced by one of the UK’s leading Mountain Guides, Steve Long. Steve has been involved in training people for mountaineering and climbing for years and this dvd ‘Self Rescue for Climbers’ is an excellent resource to help you learn to prepare well for your adventures!



Over the next couple of days I will be posting up a serious of extracts from the dvd, so check them out!



For more information on how to purchase the Self Rescue for Climbers DVD click here!


If you are looking for tuition on the techniques you see in the video, get in touch with us here at The Mountain People, as we can offer you a customised course with an instructor who has been trained and assessed in these elements.


A few more photos from some of the adventures I have been on!





Grade V Ice – Afekhoi cascades




Jay Parks on a multi-pitch sport route in Taghia – High Atlas




Me on lead on Observatory Buttress – Ben Nevis



Categories: Blog, instructional, James, Top Tips, Video
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