/ FIVA .. Gordon stainforth

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gazfellows on 18 Dec 2012
I recently bought the book FIVA by Gordon Stainforth, and i'm writing this post to say GO BUY IT. i'ts got to be one of the best books i have ever read, what a story to tell these two blokes had. I bought the book friday and it was done and dusted for saturday, absoloutley brilliant..
I'd just like to take my hat off to Gordon and John and thank them on sharing that epic story with us!!! Brilliant!!!

Cheers lads...
In reply to gazfellows: Yep, I'm knackered this morning from reading it last night long after I wanted to be asleep.
Robert Durran - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:
My copy arrived from Amazon this morning. Can't wait.....
JohnnyW - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:

I've said it before, but I'll say it again! ;o) Couldn't agree more.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=514142&v=1#x6970135
Mark F - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:
Yes, I read it myself recently and loved it. The writing is excellent and the book is surely going to become one of the classics of mountaineering literature. Well done, Gordon, you've produced a real gem there.
Gary Latter - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:

I just don't get it "i'ts got to be one of the best books i have ever read" - guess you don't read a lot of books!

Bumbling ineptitude. If I'd had an epic like that, I'd keep it quiet...

Gary
The Lemming - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:

You're brave, posting behind an almost empty profile.
remus - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL: To me it seems bumbling ineptitude produces the best stories.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:

Yes, finished it last week, brilliant stuff. Using the present tense really added to the emotional impact, it felt like you were actually there on the climb with them. The passage describing the incident where it all turned very serious was pure horror, even though we know the outcome, it doesn't feel like that when you're reading it!

Possibly the best mountaineering book ive read,as others have said, thanks Gordon,

Cheers

Gregor
Mooncat - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:
> (In reply to gazfellows)
>

>
> Bumbling ineptitude. If I'd had an epic like that, I'd keep it quiet...
>

A well thought out post, I think I'll write a book about a days climbing where I was well within my grade and nothing uneventful happened to me or my mate. Should sell loads.


Mooncat - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:

Completely agree, started well and got better and better as it went on.
Gordon Stainforth - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mooncat:

I wrote about it precisely because things went wrong (that's in the subtitle). Has a lot to do with hopes/dreams and life in general. Who wants to read about something where nothing remarkable happens? ... One might as well carry on with one's ordinary everyday life, rather than bother to read about it. Remember what Hitchcock said: 'A good movie is like life with the dull bits cut out.'
Mooncat - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Exactly, we all had our epics when we started climbing, it's just that yours was more epic than most and you've got a talent for putting it into words. Mine, although epic at the time, meant I didn't get to the pub for last orders and I can't write.
The Lemming - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mooncat:
> Mine, although epic at the time, meant I didn't get to the pub for last orders and I can't write.

My palms are sweating at that right now. You've got to follow that up with a sequel.

:-)

Orgsm on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to Mooncat)
> [...]
>
> My palms are sweating at that right now. You've got to follow that up with a sequel.
>
> :-)

Let's start a new epic story right now.

My headtorch bounced down the cliff and arc'd like an old telly thrown from a tower block. Then all was black. I hung there in the darkness. All was silent apart from the rubbing of my rope on the rocks above...


Mick Ward - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to remus:

> (In reply to GL) To me it seems bumbling ineptitude produces the best stories.

Absolutely. We all start with bumbling ineptitude. If we're well taught and/or lucky (I was lucky!) we survive. Back in the 1960s, there was very little margin for error. Most of the time, if you fu*ked up, you died.

Many epics are avoidable. But climb for long enough and you will have your appointment with fear. How you deal with it is the measure of you as a climber - and as a person.

That's just one part of why climbing is so utterly fascinating.

Anyway, what's the alternative?

'She can't be chained to a life
where nothing's won and nothing's lost
at such a cost...'

Mick
Mooncat - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I still can't talk about it till this day.
Gordon Stainforth - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ward:

Yup, so much of life (in western world anyway) is about measuring oneself as a person. I don't mean through fame, I mean by testing oneself, which means having to stick one's neck out. It all goes back to Greek virtues, I guess, and possibly before.

You can't live fully unless you go to the edge. (There's lots of different types of edges). Often means having to go through some very nasty scenes indeed. The underworld myth is all about that. Summed up as 'the way down is the way up'. Nietzsche does that very well in his analysis of 'Going under'. You can't understand life by just sitting serenely on a comfortable privileged pedestal, looking down at the world, like a Stylite.
Only a hill - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:
> (In reply to gazfellows)
>
> I just don't get it "i'ts got to be one of the best books i have ever read" - guess you don't read a lot of books!
>
> Bumbling ineptitude. If I'd had an epic like that, I'd keep it quiet...
>
> Gary

Have you actually read the book? It's a brilliant story that has attracted universal praise and a string of 5* reviews.
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Mooncat)
>
> I wrote about it precisely because things went wrong (that's in the subtitle). Has a lot to do with hopes/dreams and life in general. Who wants to read about something where nothing remarkable happens?

That's what Twitter is for.

gazfellows on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL: O i ged it!! You must have had your own EPIC right ??
With a profile like that, and all the gear you got for sale !!
Ye ! I got it dude ;)

D!@$ #$@d
Blue Straggler - on 18 Dec 2012
Is there some unwritten rule that states that anyone who publicly gives an opinion on Fiva that is not along the lines of "this book is AMAZING, I held my breath all the way through it", gets cyber-lynched?
Trangia - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:

It's on my Christmas list, and I'll be disappointed if the hints are not taken up!!

Looking forward to reading it.
mcdougal - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> Is there some unwritten rule that states that anyone who publicly gives an opinion on Fiva that is not along the lines of "this book is AMAZING, I held my breath all the way through it", gets cyber-lynched?

It was the manner of the criticism that attracted the lynching, I think. Reading a mountaineering story about in which the outcome is a foregone conclusion would be like spending time reading blogs about walking up Snowdon.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it? Speaking personally, I was gripped (like everyone else). I only read FIVA a couple of months ago but I'm already thinking of reading it again.

mountain.martin - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:
> (In reply to gazfellows)
>
> I just don't get it "i'ts got to be one of the best books i have ever read" - guess you don't read a lot of books!
>
> Bumbling ineptitude. If I'd had an epic like that, I'd keep it quiet...
>
> Gary

It's the bumbling (young & naive) ineptitude that sets it aside from the usual heroic world class himilayan mountaineer tales.

Gary Latter - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Only a Hill:

Yes, I have indeed read it., funnily enough. And no, I don't agree with the 5 star glowing reviews. Maybe I should alter my opinion and follow the other sheep... Nah, perhaps not.

Gary Latter
mcdougal - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:

We're not sheep, we just enjoyed the book.

Sean Kelly - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows: Some of the best mountain literature has happened because things went wrong, and that can happen to the most experienced, most talented, most knowledgeable climbers out there. No one is immune. I like reading about epics but don't really like then when it involves me, especially at the time! Also it is wise to remember that we all start off as bumblers and gradually aqquire experience and skills as we progress in this testing sport. The higher up the ladder the ambition, the greater the risks, and wouldn't life be boring without any risk?
It's on my Chrissie list Gordon!
Solaris - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:

I don't mean this to be a critical or hostile reply, but I'd be really interested to hear why you don't agree with the many people who like the book.

Stephen Goodwin in the latest AJ seems to me to be a bit (but not wildly) over the top when he says that "If there were any justice in the publishing world [Fiva] would be a best seller, eclipsing 'the Void'." That was another story of an embarrassing epic that one might prefer to stay quiet about; did you dislike it, too?
Blue Straggler - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:
> Reading a mountaineering story about in which the outcome is a foregone conclusion would be like spending time reading blogs about walking up Snowdon.

But apart from the finer details, the outcome of Fiva is a foregone conclusion - it "went wrong" but happily Gordon and John survived and lived another four decades and still counting!
ads.ukclimbing.com
ben b - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to GL: Hi Gary
I'm interested in your opinion on Fiva - you haven't really explained why you feel it isn't deserving of the praise it has had.

The feedback on here has been uniformly highly positive until now - which is a surprise given how bloody awkward people on here can be at times. I don't think that Gordon's contributions to ukc are the only explanation of the goodwill - I think most people who have read it have genuinely enjoyed it, and certainly (in my case at least) perhaps identify - with a slight cringe - the overconfidence of youth and naivety.

I think it is high on my "best mountaineering books" list - and trust me, I have read a lot of mountaineering literature. Certainly it sits well alongside TTV which, any way you look at it, is a classic of the genre. Would be interested to hear your opinion.

b
Only a hill - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
To be fair though, I can't think of many mountaineering books where the ending isn't a foregone conclusion (or at least the outcome is widely known and therefore unlikely to be a surprise).
victim of mathematics - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to GL:

Just finished it last night. I thought I really enjoyed it because it's a brilliant, excellently written story. I see now that I was mistaken and that I'm just following the herd...

If you disagree with the majority on something, that doesn't make them sheep and you a cool, sexy maverick. It just means you have a different opinion. Well done you. Have a gold star. I respect your right not to love the book, but I don't respect you being a pompous arse about it.
Simon - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:
> (In reply to GL)

>
> If you disagree with the majority on something, that doesn't make them sheep and you a cool, sexy maverick. It just means you have a different opinion. Well done you. Have a gold star. I respect your right not to love the book, but I don't respect you being a pompous arse about it.



...never a monument was raised for a critic... that said people of course allowed to have an opinion - Gordon has worked his arse off on this book & people should at least respect him as an author...

...looking forward to opening mine on xmas day - but I fear me dad's forgotten the only thing on me xmas wish list!!! :0( bah...
Blue Straggler - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Only a hill:

Nor me! I wasn't criticising Fiva for being a foregone conclusion, I was criticising whoever it was that seemed to be doing so!
Only a hill - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
Ah I see what you mean ... I was still more than half asleep when I wrote that post =P
Pids - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to :

Ok, now that you have all read it anyone for recycling and passing on the book?
mcdougal - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> happily Gordon and John survived and lived another four decades and still counting!

You can't miss Gordon but, until I read FIVA, I hadn't noticed John's posts.

Congratulations, John! You're alive!
mcdougal - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Nor me! I wasn't criticising Fiva for being a foregone conclusion, I was criticising whoever it was that seemed to be doing so!

You're confused.

Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:

Can confirm. I was speaking to him on the phone just 5 minutes ago :)
Jim Braid - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to remus:
> (In reply to GL) To me it seems bumbling ineptitude produces the best stories.

If you want further proof of this try the current thread "Lost on the hills - a confession"

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=531398

Some excellent entertaining stories in there that many of us can identify with.

FIVA was an epic version of a youthful adventure gone wrong; skillfully and enjoyably retold. A great read.

Blue Straggler - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
> [...]
>
> You're confused.

Am I? Maybe so. At least I can string together a better grammatical construction than "a mountaineering story about in which the outcome is a foregone conclusion" :-)

But seriously, your post WAS confusing and requires clarification. But I get the impression that you can't be bothered to clarify, and beyond this post, I can't be bothered to pursue it. Up to you. Thanks.
In reply to gazfellows: really enjoying the book...they've just started the descent, probably finish it tonight.

I've looked online for some topos/guidebooks, but can't seem to find anything that covers this route, or infact, a guidebook for the Troll wall what-so-ever. Anybody got any recommendations? I'm probably not going to catch the next flight to Norway, but would certainly make for some interesting and enticing reading!?
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):

I think it is the buttress just right of Sherri, not 100% though:

http://www.pbase.com/chris_craggs/image/56960497


Chris
In reply to Chris Craggs: That's a cracking photo )))
Blue Straggler - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:

You make it sound like Sherri is a permanent feature in the Norwegian landscape :-)
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

A different view, from far below:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=210769


Chris
pneame on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
Lovely picture Chris - Gordon will likely be along to explain it better, but the majority of the route is below the notch between the high peak on the right (Store Trolltind) and the peak just to its left.
There are some good pictures on Gordon's website
http://www.gordonstainforth.co.uk/gfgallery/romsdaljul07.php?Qwd=.&Qif=Romsdal7Jul_034.jpg&Q...

I think not being absolutely sure is part of the appeal of the book - a very slick bit of writing craft if it was deliberate! Gives you a much more of a "I am there with them" feeling (without the thirst, pain, hunger, of course).
Gordon Stainforth - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC))
>
> I think it is the buttress just right of Sherri, not 100% though:
>
> http://www.pbase.com/chris_craggs/image/56960497
>
>

No, that's the Troll Pillar. The Troll Wall is to the right of that, and the Fiva route right of that again, taking a straight line up to the notch below the highest point.

Gordon Stainforth - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:

In your superb second picture the line of the central snowfield that of Fiva can be seen behind below the sunlit peak of Store Trolltind. The FR follows the bottom edge of that snowfield and then a steeper diagonal line up leftward to the notch.
Gordon Stainforth - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):
> (In reply to gazfellows) really enjoying the book...they've just started the descent, probably finish it tonight.
>
> I've looked online for some topos/guidebooks, but can't seem to find anything that covers this route, or infact, a guidebook for the Troll wall what-so-ever. Anybody got any recommendations? I'm probably not going to catch the next flight to Norway, but would certainly make for some interesting and enticing reading!?

They are all very well documented in Tony Howard's excellent Climbs, Scrambles and Walks in Romsdal (Cordee 2005)

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
>
> In your superb second picture the line of the central snowfield that of Fiva can be seen behind below the sunlit peak of Store Trolltind. The FR follows the bottom edge of that snowfield and then a steeper diagonal line up leftward to the notch.

Cheers Gordon, I wasn't 100% with good reason!



Chris
ericinbristol - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Happy Xmas Gordon, and thanks again for writing such a magnificent book. I plan to re-read it soon.
mcdougal - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to mcdougal)
> [...]
>
> Am I? Maybe so. At least I can string together a better grammatical construction than "a mountaineering story about in which the outcome is a foregone conclusion" :-)
>
> But seriously, your post WAS confusing and requires clarification. But I get the impression that you can't be bothered to clarify, and beyond this post, I can't be bothered to pursue it. Up to you. Thanks.

Do you search the forum in search of confrontation? We were both arguing on the same side!

There is a stray "about" in my post but couldn't you have just deleted it in your head rather than banging on about grammatical construction?
Doghouse - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):
> (In reply to gazfellows) really enjoying the book...they've just started the descent, probably finish it tonight.
>
>

What you the book? or the Stainforth's the descent? :-)
Blue Straggler - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]
>
> Do you search the forum in search of confrontation?

Nope, it just seems to loom large in some threads!

> We were both arguing on the same side!

I couldn't tell, because it isn't clear whether you think that mountain literature where the story has a foregone conclusion (such as Fiva) is an exception, or whether it's the norm and you don't like it, or....anything really!

Which "same side" were we arguing on?

Apologies for picking up on the stray word, I don't usually try and point-score like that. It seemed faintly amusing at the time.
mcdougal - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

So you are confused ;-)

My fault. I often revise what I write before submitting it and, if I get distracted, sometimes clarity suffers.

I wasn't aware that the ending of FIVA was a foregone conclusion until, to my huge relief, I saw that John Stainforth posts on the forum and therefore probably survived.

The "same side" to which I referred was that of those who enjoyed the book.

I've re-read this post three times but please feel free to comment on any mistakes :-P
Blue Straggler - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:

Oh...I thought the introduction to Fiva mentioned that John had been consulted about the book, and that John himself wrote an epilogue to it, both of which suggested to me that he was alive and well. Did your edition not include the introduction and epilogue?

subalpine - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler: c'mon, give a proper critique of the book- i'm getting weary of all the good reviews
mcdougal - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

You don't give up, do you?

I must have skipped the intro and probably read the epilogue at the traditional juncture ie after I'd read the rest. This is because I find that epilogues sometimes contain spoilers. I was pretending to be relieved to find that John is alive, possibly for mild comic effect.


JJL - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ward:
> climb for long enough and you will have your appointment with fear. How you deal with it is the measure of you as a climber - and as a person.
>

Blimey Mick. That's a bullseye... but then I guess you have been there.

If 29 words could sum up the essence of mountaineering, they'd read very much like that.

It is a life event to have - and recognise - that moment.

Mine still shapes choices today.

J
Blue Straggler - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to subalpine:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler) c'mon, give a proper critique of the book- i'm getting weary of all the good reviews

I have not said that I've read it...
Blue Straggler - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
> You don't give up, do you?

Eh? I was responding to your post. There is nothing to "give up"
>
> I must have skipped the intro

Fine, your choice (but see below)

> and probably read the epilogue at the traditional juncture ie after I'd read the rest. This is because I find that epilogues sometimes contain spoilers.

That makes sense

> I was pretending to be relieved to find that John is alive, possibly for mild comic effect.

That was never clear.

My question about "your edition" was genuine. I thought maybe you'd read the Kindle edition if such a thing exists, and that it might have excluded the introduction and epilogue.

icnoble on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows: Just ordered a copy.
Tom Last - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:

I enjoyed the book a great deal, hell of a page turner.

The one place I thought the first person narrative fell down a little was in some of the descriptions of the landscapes, where I thought I could sense Gordon's older self coming through. Seemed to me that these descriptions, good as they were, had been informed by a lifetime's experience in the mountains. I could be entirely mistaken of course as I don't know Gordon, nor obviously did I know his 20 year old self.
And besides, this lapse - if that was what it was - was not an entirely bad thing as the picture Gordon painted made me want to visit Romsdal - even if not to climb!

Can't really be any more critical than that, I thought the book was great.
mcdougal - on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to Southern Man:

It's true that the author's contemporary voice occasionally breaks through and the descriptions sometimes didn't sound like those of a young Romsdal first timer. However IMO these didn't spoil the effect that the author sought instead, with underplayed authority, they augment the freshness and naivety in the writing. Any inconsistency of tone caused by this approach is more than compensated for by the immediacy of experience and tension that the first person narrative gives to the descriptions of the adventure.
I'd love to use a few quotations but my copy is missing in a pile of boxes after a house move. It's an exciting story that deserves all the good things that have been said about it.
mcdougal - on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I'm glad we got all that straightened out. Happy Christmas, Mr Straggler.
P.
Blue Straggler - on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to mcdougal:

And to you sir! :-)
Littleslip - on 22 Dec 2012
In reply to gazfellows:
Just bought this book without seeing this book! Brilliant!
Blue Straggler - on 22 Dec 2012
In reply to subalpine:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler) c'mon, give a proper critique of the book- i'm getting weary of all the good reviews


yhm

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