When you start climbing around the age of five, and have a tendency to get into trouble, your life as a climber tends to have both ups and downs, but mainly downs. Your climbing life seems to be all about going down, never up, any up you remember just a prelude to some epic down.
I’ve had my ass handed to me so many times it’s a wonder I have the gumption to climb at all, having bailed, retreated, been beaten down and vertically humiliated around the world from Antarctica to Alaska, El Mocho to El Cap.
I remember one bad year, maybe 1998, when I ended up rapping a few pitches from the top of Fitzroy (in Winter), close to the top of the Droites (again in winter), from Poincenot (first Winter ascent, I’m not bragging, only that we did get to the top that time), El Cap (I was soloing it, so had to rap every pitch), which, when added to all the other epics, ended up being close to four kilometres of down (much of it very scary and sketchy).
Back then I tended to go in with an eyes half closed approach to descent, no knots in the rope ends, no Prusik, no backups, no fucking clue really. I did some things I’m only proud of because I didn’t die, like rapping off a knife-blade piton that only went in the length of a fingernail (little finger), so dodgy my partner didn’t even clip into it.
But luckily, I slowly got that it was not the going up that held all the danger, but the going down, where you're tired, in a hurry, and depending on the slimmest margins of security.
It seemed climbing was a very forgiving sport, in that even a total fuck up could get away with bad belays, bad gear, bad everything, yet most often survive, but not when it came to rapping. No, here, even the very best could get screwed by the smallest error of judgement.
And so - like Eminem- I began to take this rapping thing more seriously. I started to dot my abseiling Is, cross my abseiling Ts, the easy stuff first, like Prusik backups, knots in the rope, solid anchors on rock and ice and snow. I also began to pay attention to the little things, how you feed your ropes into the anchor, how a heavy rope fell straight, but how a thin rope pulled easier over complex ground. On each rap (and when climbing up if the ascent route was the same), I began to look out for where my ropes would hang up when I pulled them and recognised how what you do at that moment when your ropes stick is the difference between a stuck rope and a rope that comes down free, that landing that far end is like landing a marlin.
The more I understood the game of going down the more confident I became about going up. Walls that overhung, that were advertised as impossible to retreat down, became easy enough with time and care. Twice I spent two days rapping down Suser Gjennom Harryland on the Troll wall (both in winter and summer), with several haul bags, each anchor seemingly impossible to swing into, yet each was snatched and used to reach the next.
A BOOK ABOUT ABSEILING - WHAT AM I ... A BOY SCOUT?
The idea of this book has been ticking over in my head for about twenty years, a little trick or two being added each year, meaning the project has kept being kicked down the road. But having been climbing around Africa for three months (a place full of bad rock, bad anchors, and bad descents), and doing many hundreds of raps, having three ropes get hung up - as well as rapping with a friend with a fractured leg - I thought it about time I put fingers to keyboard and start writing it.
THE AIM OF THE BOOK
I really want to use this book to pass on as much knowledge and detail as I can, what I know based on learning from dozens of other climbers I’ve tied on with. I want it to cover each aspect of getting down in order for other climbers to do just that.
As with all my books, 'Down' is not really a dry instructional book, but a highly detailed conversation, one that I hope is both informative and instructional.
WHO IS THE BOOK FOR?
The audience for this book is really anyone who finds themselves having to descend down steep ground, from a walker who gets cragfast above a Scottish gully, or a climber coming back down a multi-pitch sports route, to an Alpinist on a monster alpine wall. I cover all kinds of terrain, both with and without ropes, including rock, snow and ice, and the difficult stuff in-between.
The book covers all things decent, both the basics and advanced techniques and tips (often in the most anal of detail), some that climbers will know, some they will not.
Here’s a rundown of the book's structure:
- Prusik Loops
- Cutting tools
- Anchor materials
- Friction reducers
- Stuff Sacks
- Rope bags
- Snow & Sandtraps
- Putting it together
- Snow Ice Sand
- Marginal anchors
- Setting and testing the anchor
- Joining ropes
- Rope ends
- Controlling your device
- Controlling the ropes
- Throwing off the ropes
- The descent
- Avoiding hazards
- Rap belay positioning
- Pulling the ropes
- Fixed ropes
- Stuck ropes
- Novice climbers
- Passing knots
- Strategies and tactics
- Damaged ropes
- Real life scenarios
WHY 600 EUROS?
This target of €6000 is not really about the money (although that very handy as a writer) but more a measure of interest, as this target means at least three hundred people want to read this book.
- Design and illustration: Andy Kirkpatrick
- Format: 6x9 (229 x 152 mm) B&W landscape 200 pages•Softcover
- Language: English
- Publication date: July 2019
PRINTING & PRICE
The nature of instructional books is that they need constant updating, so all my books are print on demand, meaning instead of having four thousand books sat in a warehouse for ten years, the books are printed by the printer and posted. The upside of this is that books can be constantly updated, the downside that these books cost twice as much to print.
Availability Post Campaign
The book will be available on Amazon once all backers have received their books. Risks And Challenges The last book I crowdfunded was 'Higher Education'. This project, although fully completed, took a year longer to finish than I had planned, meaning I missed my supply date by a mile (I refunded anyone who could not wait). The reason for this was the book ended up being a monster, weighing in at over 200,000 words, with over a hundred technical drawings. Unlike Higher Education, this book is much more focused, and although it will be ultra detailed like all my books, is much more manageable to complete.
About The Author
Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Alaska, Antarctica, Africa, and the Alps.
Other Books By The Author
- Cold Wars
- 1001 Climbing Tips
- Unknown Pleasures
- Me, Myself & I
- Higher Education
Risks and challenges
The last book I crowdfunded was 'Higher Education'. This project, although fully completed, took a year longer to finish than I had planned, meaning I missed my supply date by a mile (I refunded anyone who could not wait). The reason for this was the book ended up being a monster, weighing in at over 200,000 words, with over a hundred technical drawings. Unlike Higher Education, this book is much more focused, and although it will be ultra detailed like all my books, is much more manageable to complete.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)