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Adventure Magazine

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Ask the Expert
Big-Wall Warrior Mark Synnott Answers Your Climbing Queries


I'm eating two-minute noodles and sleeping on my mates couch for the next eight months to save for a guided trip on Great Trango Tower. A friend recommended Adventure Consultants in New Zealand, but I'm hoping for a cheaper company.

I can tell you that it costs about U.S.$5,000 per person (at least) if you are going on your own, so I'd imagine it will cost a bit more than that to hire a guide. full answer >>


I was always told to follow through the harness rather than relying on the belay loop soley. Is the harness the gear most likely to fail, or should the integrity of the ‘biner be more of a concern?

Rest assured, you do not have to worry about either a harness or a ‘biner failing. Although it has probably happened, I would think the chances are about as good as getting hit by a meteor. full answer >>


I am going to try to climb El Capitan (the Nose) next year. Which is the fastest way to climb big walls in groups of three?

The caterpillar method is specifically designed for speed climbing, i.e. climbing something like El Cap in a day. Here's how it works. full answer >>


I am preparing to climb Mt. Kenya next summer, but I am unsure what I should be focusing on when I am at the gym, weights or cardiovascular?

If it was me I would be concentrating much more on the cardio than I would be on the weights. Unless you are training for high end sport climbing… full answer >>


Me and my best buddy are anxious to try our hand at rock climbing.Do you think we could handle a trip down to the slot canyons of Arizona?

I highly encourage you and your buddy to get out there on some crazy adventures. However, canyoneering might not be the best place to get started. full answer >>


I have many years free-climbing experience and want to get into big wall. What's the basic equipment needed?

If you are already a good free climber, you will likely find aid climbing very easy. Aid climbing is more or less purely mechanical and does not require a great deal of strength or technique. full answer >>


How has your free climbing experience helped in this or other climbs? What's the hardest free climb you have ever attempted?

Free climbing is the foundation for all different types of climbing and it is definitely something I've worked hard at over the years. On big wall climbs… full answer >>


Why is it that you always recommend a new climber hire a guide when you know perfectly well that all the top climbers learned to climb on their own or with friends?

Going out there and teaching yourself how to climb is just about one of the most sketchy things you could possibly do. Take a look some time through Accidents in North American Mountaineering and tally up how many of those dead people were novice climbers… full answer >>


I have just started rock climbing. Could you please tell me a basic work out to improve strength?

The type of strength you need for rock climbing is mainly in the fingers. The best way to train for this is to get out and spend a lot of time on the rock, especially… full answer >>


I have always been interested in mountain climbing. How do I go about getting started?

My standard answer to this question, which I get asked a lot, is to hire yourself a guide. full answer >>


I'd just like to find out how you go about funding your expeditions.

You've hit upon what is actually the crux of any adventure. Thinking up and going on trips is a breeze compared to finding the money to make it happen. full answer >>

E-mail Mark


Climber Mark Synnott
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