Ten Tips for Free
Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.
The Bottle Glove Drier
Take two nice bottles of beer, drink them, wash and dry the empties. Place your wet gloves over the bottles, pushing the neck into the middle finger and place over a radator – the glass will conduct the warmth inside the glove.
The Pasta Breakfast
A day of winter mountaineering requires a large number of calories, perhaps 5,000 or more. Cornflakes and banana just isn't going to cut it. A dish of wholegrain pasta with a nice tomato sauce, some spinach and a poached egg will give you the slow release carbs, the protein and iron for a big fight. If I've had a pasta dish the night before, I eat the leftovers for breakfast.
The Rope Ready-to-Go
When gearing up below an approach slope uncoil the rope and flake it inside your rucksack; feed the top end through the drinking tube slot. If you're going to second the first pitch you can tie on to the end – no fuss, ready to deploy rope as soon as you reach the rock/ice.
The Sling Belay Quick Adjust
If you find that after tying a master point in your sling the 'legs' aren't quite equally loaded – simply put one or more round turns through the relevant karabiner to even things up. Saves untying and re-tying a fiddly knot with gloves on.
The Tidy Rope Stack
Take a 120 sling and Lark's Foot one end to an in-reach part of your belay. Karabiner the other end to your rucksack strap/bandolier or something else at chest level. Stack the climbing rope in decreasingly small lap coils across the sling, then take the sling karabiner and clip it back to the anchor. This means the rope will not slide down the slope, inundate your belaying or snag on your crampons.
The Guide Plate Release
Auto-locking belay devices such as the Reverso 4 can be difficult to release under load. The fix involves additional security and a counter balance release. For a small amount of slack simply waggle the belay karabiner up and down. This is particularly effective if the back bar of the 'biner has a rectalinear profile.
The Shift-me-First Belay
If your belay is not 100% as secure as would have hoped, belay from the harness loop, not the rope loop. This puts your body in the 'system' so any force developed by loading will have to shift you before it influences the belay anchors significantly.
Photo: Jack Geldard
The Glued Down Sling
If placing a sling over a spike whilst on lead, pack it down with snow to hold it in place. This is harder to do if the snow is very dry.
The Fly Fisherman
In total whiteout you can get some sense of the terrain ahead by attaching 5 metres of cord or rope to the end of a ski pole and 'casting' ahead. Proceed to the end of the cord and repeat.
The Boulder Field Master
Whilst travelling through a slippery boulder field, sans crampons, place your boots in the choke point between stones so that when you step over your foot is held in place.
What are your handy tips?