It’s easier to characterize Irish climber Patrick Mcredmond by what he isn’t: a full-time climber, a qualified climbing instructor, a trained guide, or a world-class climber. He is, however, a well-travelled trad climber, an engineer by day, and according to himself, “literally just some dude that posts on Instagram." By the looks of his still-growing 62,800 member following, Mcredmond's page, @justbombergear, is doing just bomber.
It all began on July 7, 2017 with an innocuous post: a photo of an offset nut placement, captioned “bomber offset, that’s goin’ nowhere, whipper on that? yes please.” It’s the voice of Mcredmond (or “Climby Mac Climbface,” as his account claims) shouting into the Internet void. Now his followers span 85 countries—from Iran to Korea to the United States—and he can receive 30 submissions a day. His reach extends far beyond the 20 to 30 Irish climbers that he thought would be his audience.
Mcredmond’s sarcastic, Irish humor has matured and crystallized over his 740 posts. Today the account is more than sketchy anchors built on sketchy flakes or cam-plus-hand jams. Want to see a found video of Santa Claus rappelling off a roof and getting his beard stuck in his rappel device? A photo of trad climbing nuts placed between someone’s butt crack? A review of an obscure, uncertified cam? A test whipper on a hex that Mcredmond 3D-printed himself? It’s all there, in what seems to be one elaborate inside joke between Mcredmond and his followers. Just Bomber Gear has even grown beyond Instagram, expanding into a website with blog posts and gear reviews.
While the focus of the account is humor, Mcredmond has also been reactive to the changes he’s seen in the climbing world off the Internet. He worries about the increasing number of new climbers outside, who often perform unsafe and sketchy practices.
“Constantly, there are people doing really silly things," he said. "I used to just cringe and say nothing. They’ll do one intro trad course and boom, they’re trad climbers. But [trad is] a very unforgiving activity. I spent two years following someone on trad.”
Due to the accessibility of the Internet, Mcredmond notes that inexperienced climbers can post videos and photos of dangerous practices, and the people watching might not be educated enough to realize it.
“All the time, people are putting things up on Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube and not realizing that what they’re doing might not be safe," he said. "They’re setting a bad example. If you put up a video on Youtube of someone driving with no hands or driving while doing something on their phone, for example, people would say ‘oh, that’s unsafe’ because they have that context. In climbing, that’s not always the case.”
While his posts can be sardonic, Mcredmond's motives are deliberate: inspire people to do more research and gain more experience beyond his Instagram account and other channels of Internet media. He uses some posts to point out when systems are actually unsafe and to encourage people to take safety seriously.
But most of the time, Just Bomber Gear isn’t serious. “Top Tip,” Mcredmond writes in the caption of a recent post, “If there is a big difference in weight between a climber and belayer when top roping, you can add a twist to the rope to help increase friction. Also if using old shitty rusty quicklinks make sure to use two like this fella.”
What’s next for the Irish climber? Whatever Mcredmondfeels like doing, probably, but he is determined to keep Just Bomber Gear from becoming a job. As the bio reads, “For business enquiries contact a business.” Mcredmond just wants to confuse people sometimes—mostly, for the heck of it.
How long have you been climbing?
Patrick Mcredmond: I started climbing when I was much younger, in Scamps, which is like what you call Boy Scouts in America. But I only really started climbing properly in college. I’ve been climbing seriously, like training and working hard with projects and goals, for 6-7 years. I took two years off to finish some college. It was the worst decision I ever made.
How has Just Bomber Gear changed since you started the account?
At the very start, it was just about gear—cam and nut placements, tricams, and maybe the odd hex. Then it became focused toward being safe and trying to get people to get more into trad. The page became more about systems and basic jerry bashing, and I didn’t really like that. It was doing really, really, well and was getting 500 new followers a day. There was a huge jump in subscribers. But I felt like it just became about bullying people, so I stopped and took a couple of those posts down. So [the page] has kind of changed from a bit of a laugh to me trying to get people to realize that what they’re doing might be wrong or not safe. Now, at the moment, I think it’s moving back toward where it was [about gear].
It sounds like you have a deep resentment toward hexes.
I hate hexes. They’re just awful. They’re so bad. The only use for hexes is in ice climbing, when you can’t use cams. When I started to climb, I bought a rack of hexes. But they’re so awkward to place. They were bulky. And then one day my uncle gave me his old rack of cams, and there was just so much climbing that I couldn’t have done before. Hexes are much more of a beginner protection piece—I tend to associate them with people who are new. They’re just not as versatile as cams. But it’s not a joke on the page. I genuinely hate them. I don’t dislike people who use hexes, though.
How's the climbing in Ireland?
We’ve got very, very, very iconic spots, really nice limestone, and lots of classics. I wouldn’t say that it’s better climbing than somewhere like Yosemite or Fontainebleau, but there are really good crags around and people do come to Ireland for it. It’s my favorite country to climb in, so I’m really lucky because I live here.
What inspired Just Bomber Gear?
I remember the first videos I came across about climbing on Youtube by a climber named Mike Barter. I was watching them because they were really funny, not because they were good instruction. There is good instruction in some of them, but they’re just so funny... He just doesn’t care. He’s so blasé about everything.
I wanted to create something like that, that was not so instructional—a guide that people want to look at, not because of the information, but because of how funny it is…. I think the page is 60% about climbing and 40% jokes, but the jokes are about climbing, that’s all.
Is there anything that you’d like to add?
I’m super surprised that you didn’t ask me about the Irish slang. Very, very infrequently, I’ll do a post about Irish slang, with a phrase like “be grand” or “few naggins." People seem to really like those but have no idea what they actually mean. Then they’ll comment the phrases back at me with totally the wrong context. People do that all the time, and I love it when that happens.