/ Best and worst guidebook layouts
Good pictures of the routes are a must for an easy to use guide.
Distinct lines marking the routes is also a must. (see mournes guide)
I don't care whether a guide is predominantly text or picture based. It must:
- Tell me about the crag, aspect and conditions
- Tell me about access issues
- Make sure I (as a non local) can find the crag
- Clear route descriptions or diagrams
- Clear descent instructions if applicable
The whole guide should be robust and if covering multipitch / adventure terrain be small enough to carry conveniently
The original graded list in the back of the FRCC guides is a favourite of mine.
Also good directions to crags - mini maps, grid ref.
If the crag stretches over multiple pages for heaven's sake put the crag on left to right so that what appears in the guide mirrors what you see in front of you.
For worst, I would point to some of the older Climber Club guides that had crag diagrams that had a summary of some of the lines, but then the route descriptions were not numbered and cross referencing the diagram with the description was near impossible.
As for best - my vote goes to the BMC Stanage guide. A combination of the guide to my favourite crag, completeness, superb photos, little ditties and recommendations from local climbing legends and excellent topos.
I find an overview / crag list page pretty invaluable for areas that I'm not familiar with (or for finding crags I don't know in areas that I am familiar with). A list of crags with a general idea of the spread of grades is essential, and more information about length of routes (big mountain / multipitch / single pitch), the approach time, the likely conditions (FRCC guides give you altitude, aspect and a rough drying time, other guides have general comments) etc is a bonus.
Basically, if I'm in an area where I have no idea what the main crags are or what they're like, it's nice to be able to pick a couple of good looking options without having to read the entire guidebook at once.
Totally agree. Also avoid having several climbs in a row that are all described as starting x metres right of the previous climb (tracking them all back to find the start of the first climb is a pain) and remember that a feature that is obvious to you if you know the crag well is not always obvious to people who haven't been there before. If you are going to describe a line as taking the "obvious chimney", make sure it really is obvious and not one of three very similar chimneys in close proximity to each other.
I don't like the landscape layout of the yorkshire grit bouldering guides, portrait seems far more practical for holding with one hand and for the spine giving the whole book more solid and less flopping all over the shop feel.
Interesting - I was thinking of landscape for the face diagrams/photos and corresponding list of routes.
Yeah, for me pocketability is pretty important for multipitch routes, or even on longer single pitch - nothing more fun than stopping on a nice ledge, getting the guidebook out and checking where the route goes. A6 would seem the best size for this - fits in my pockets (haven't measured many other people's), and hopefully big enough to actually get some information on each page.
Is that a comprehensive list of all the routes in grade order (like a graded index), or a select list?
Comprehensive in grade order, really usefull if your trying to push into the next grade.
I like having belays marked on the topo for multi-pitch routes. I find it makes it much easier to relate the description to the topo especially as photo topos can often foreshorten the upper pitches.
Good pictures really help, the RockFax books do make it very easy to find and follow a route, some of the Climbers Club guides are almost impossible to follow. Wintours Leap for example, finding the start of some routes is extremely difficult as the only photograph is from far away and there are lots of trees at the base of the routes, add that to 'Start the route by the 3rd Birch tree' and it can take a good hour to actually find out which bloody tree you are starting from! The RockFax Peak Limestone book gets around this by having diagrams looking 'through the trees'.
Yeah I get on with the RockFax guides very well.
Cant go too wrong with HD colour photos and good route descriptions :)
The Nick White devon and dartmoor guide is probably the one that has mislead me most often. However, it's also the most fun to read. I do like to get a bit of history around the area and some tales of wild climbs. So as long as you are describing the routes, a little bit of spice with some background definitely makes a guide more readable and interesting. So i'd say make it functional, but dont worry about making it too sterile. Climbing is fun after all
Mostly just comments on points other people have raised.
Size: if it's a guide for a single-pitch crag, this really doesn't matter. If it's multipitch, I sometimes like to take it up with me. The Rockfax "North Wales Classics" is really convenient for taking up something long on Lliwedd for example.
Interesting: While I'd say functionality should come first, I really do like reading historical anecdotes. Sometimes I like to sit down with a guidebook in the evening and have something other than brief route descriptions to read.
Portrait/Landscape: just pick one! I find the current Cheddar gorge guide to be a bit of a pain because it changes every other page.
Photo/line drawing/text: Doesn't matter as long as it's clear. Personally I find that well done line drawings can make the clearest topos, but you'll probably not sell many unless it's full of glossy photos.
It is interesting how often this guide is quoted as being a good read. It certainly is a unique book and very entertaining, however it is from 1995 and has pretty much killed the area stone dead for new guidebook writers (apart from selected).
The problem with these very entertaining guidebooks that also try (often successfully) to be historical documents, is that they make the next edition either a dated reprint, or the very awkward publications due to them almost inevitably not being as entertaining as their predecessors. They can also take ages longer to produce meaning that there are often long information gaps while the things are put together.
I always say that one of the main things you should be thinking about when you write a guidebook is the next edition after the one you are working on. What will that look like? Is your data file (InDesign, etc.) robust enough to be rolled out with subtle format changes and additions? Is the document backed up by a database so that you can gather feedback online and start working towards Apps on handheld devices?
A guidebook is only a snapshot of an area at any moment in time and, once you have finished edition 1, your work should really only just be beginning.
The new CC Dartmoor guide is going to be a corker.
Agree with the "compact size for multipitch" comments.
The later CC guides like Ogwen and Llanberis are much better, but still don't have full lines on photos, so are still a bit cludgy compared to other series, and haven't caught up. There's a lot to be said for making the page size bigger as they are also a bit cramped looking.
Rockfax still seems to be the standard against which the others are measured, but if you look at the Peak BMC definitive guides recently, there are examples of outstanding production values, all the bouldering, phototopos, and all in a reasonable print footprint.
I like a good size to carry if it's multi-pitch guide.
Fits in a guidebook cover.
Portrait, never landscape layout.
Great clear photos, with routes and belays marked on.
No history or lists of anything like that, I just want climbs.
How big's a guidebook cover?
And abseils for descent too, presumably?
Hmm... mixed opinions on this - maybe the historical bit should be in the middle so you can pull it out and bin it if you don't want it?
Interesting thoughts, Alan! Surely you should be able to produce a guidebook with personality but also keep one eye on future editions, though? If you have the right data gathering and publishing setup in place to start with, then couldn't the guide become more interesting and historically accurate with each edition, rather than less?
AO 'one climb at a glance' does not work
You should certainly try and include 'personality' and 'character' - people want the book to inspire them - however I think you should avoid letting the character take over. The bottom line is, the main reason people want a guidebook is to get them to the crag, enable them to assess what is there, climb it, and then get back down safely ready for something else. Most important of all though, they want the guidebook to be up-to-date and available. It is in this latter aspect that some modern guidebooks fall down by aiming to be lavish historical records rather than concentrating on actually being available and in print.
Having said that, I think there are some superb books being produced by different publishers, all with their own character and style and I reckon British guidebooks are in very good health.
Surely that's the fault of the editions that follow, rather than the original?!
Maybe it depends on the area? The history and local colour in guidebooks like Ground Up's Llanberis Slate guide or the BMC's Over the Moors is brilliant and (imo) add a lot to the climbing experience, possibly because they're areas that have always had reasonably tight-knit climbing scenes and been a bit mysterious to the rest of the world, and the all the background stuff makes you feel a bit like you're in on the secret. On the other hand, I wouldn't be so keen on carting a load of rambling reminiscences all the way up Lliwedd or whatever.
But a guidebook filled with historical anecdotes, funny stories and original photos can't be done again as a 'new' thing. So they either have to repeat the same stories, and photos, or drop them. In both cases this is generally going to appear as a worse guidebook. They could do a radical redesign, drop the history and focus on better information coverage, tidy maps, expansive photo-tops and other modern features and make a great 'new' guidebook, but that is as much work as starting from scratch.
My general point is that the person/company producing a guidebook should produce something that assumes that they are dedicated to this area for the long run and will be able to follow it up with a new edition when required.
Whilst I do think that there are some great books being produced, I think a lot of the recent publications haven't got this foundation and they won't be able to roll out new editions within months of the previous one selling out. This is not a new problem though, that is why I am bringing it up. I think it needs a major change in attitude from UK guidebook producers.
Personally I'm quite fond of guides that are full of anecdotes and such. I think they're the best place for that sort of thing, there's a certain cohesion you get from a well put together guidebook. It's like you're getting a little slice of the author(s) love for the area.
If there's a push towards keeping route information current i would much rather it was done in a digital context. Seems awfully backward to have a big database full of route info and then print off a few thousand paper copies to go out of date while you keep updating the database in the background. To a large extent I think we're already seeing this (BMC RAD etc.) but I don't think anyone's brought together all the information in a manner that is cohesive enough to replace guidebooks yet.
1. Left to right, ALWAYS for individual crags, and by default for areas (obviously this breaks down for complex areas like Cheedale).
2. Carryable if its a big crag / alpine.
3. Ergonomic, eg., descriptions on the same page as the photos. Turning to 15 different pages for one route is a pain in the arse (FRCC Gable & Pillar guide 199?, may you rot in hell)
4. Well cross referenced. It's amazing how many guides there are with photos that don't logically link to the descriptions.
5. Good photography.
7. No unnecessary beta. Most of the guides round here tell me what gear to take. I hate that.
A fatwaaaar on anyone that does not obey.
There is certainly a place for anecdotes, interesting tick lists and personal recommendations in all guidebooks, it just has to be kept in perspective. I definitely don't think it is the best place for historical anecdotes, a point that Peak Rock is illustrating nicely at the moment.
Absolutely. Two examples of not doing this are the St Leger guide where the sectors appear right to left but the routes are left to right! And my all time favourite, an old guidebook to Cape Town's Table Mountain where the routes are in - wait for it - alphabetical order! Totally 100% useless
I started a thread here once about L to R vs R to L and got very little support.
You have my support (assuming you were advocating that L to R is the ONLY way to list routes).
I think the R to L thing is a relic from when guidebooks were written in a way that assumed you read them like a book as you walked along the crag. "And to the left we have...", "then a little further on is..." etc. The few crag diagrams tended to be spread through the guide (or even at the back) hence the fact that it wasn't in correct visual order didn't matter so much.
Now that most guides have lots of photos, it just makes things incredibly confusing if the photos on the page don't line up the way they do on the crag in front of you.
Sometimes I'd switch it around, it depend which side you approach from. In reality it makes no difference :) as long as it's consistent
Some older lakes guides had the topos in the back presumably for prodcution reasons which was annoying (good topos though).
I couldn't find 2/3 of climbs in the old tremadog guide - most photos too dark to read.
And the worst guide I had was the old chatswoth ones with the blotchy blue and black unreadable topos on the wrong pages and upside-down photos...
Never got on with the landscape peak bouldering guide
A page number on every page and a page number for every climb in every photo I think the red lakes general guide is super usable and I really like my millstone burbage and beyond until I lost it.
If you want a differnent layout concept try OPR which is pretty good
Hard wearing! My rockfax West Country book is in bits and the CC south west climbs is going the same way. Rubbish
Dropped CC Avon guide 50m off Main Wall and it all it got to show for it was a bit of mud. All guidebooks should be drop tested this way until failure and given a UIAA rating or something
An area map where you can always find it (inside cover) a flap on the cover or showlace in the spine so as not to lose you pages (note pages not page) a key to the maps which references all the other maps with the page numbers.
And yet the 2012 Squamish Select guide does exactly that, sometimes. Route numbers increase on the page, but some times decrease to the R on the photo, just gives me a headache. And in a guide that borrows heavily from the Rockfax model, the last guide credited you guys for the template, can't see an acknowledgement in this one.
Me, i like very simple descriptions and diagrams. Any drawn diagrams need to match photos perfectly, ideally overdrawn from actual photos.
I like the route topo to be the bulk of the info, with written stuff just access and abnormalities.
History etc can be a whole chapter at the end.
Make photos high contrast, taken on lightly clouded days to avoid strong shadows.
Belays indicated help, especially if they double as abseil anchors.
Multipitch doesnt really concern me for size as a one day route will be taken as a photocopy. Keeping this in mind, making pages scanner/copier-friendly helps, ie diagrams same scale.
Unfortunately really hard wearing guidebooks would probably double or even treble the cost to the end user. It simply isn't possible to produce a really tough, hard wearing guide these days at a price that the market will tolerate.
It is no coincidence that most modern guidebooks are now section-sewn with drawn-on soft covers and a flush trim - that is by far the easiest and cheapest way to do it.
The BMC-style with the wrapped around card cover are slightly tougher although there is tendency for the cover to become detached from the innards with these.
However even the old plastic covers of the 1980s always split and my old copies are held together by bits of tape. I am not sure that there has ever really been a guide that stands up to the general abuse climbers tend to give their guidebooks.
Sorry, you are wrong here. It is utterly crucial to do it from left to right!
Always, no exceptions!
I thought you sounded like me there just for a moment!
Landscape format should be avoided in my Opinion.
And i find CC size and plastic covers best for shoving down my top. Cardboard covers go a bit manky if yer sweating your way up multi Pitch routes.
Clear photos. Rockfax do that well.
And personally, i like Humour, Sarcasm, Understatement, Hyperbole, and anecdotes. Especially Funny first ascent Lists.
And a page holder Piece of Material sewn into the Spine.
French guidebooks where the lines on the topo go L to R and the descriptions go R to L. Always entertaining.
How big are the CC guides? I've noticed this sweaty effect too, but plastic books are sweatier - I quite like canvassy covered guidebooks as they soak it up and become more "characterful"...
Yes, well Chris you are the ultimate Left-to-Right evangelist taking it right down to route level.
I tend to relent somewhat when it comes to minor left-hand finishes to major lines, by listing the major line first in the text, but we do usually disagree over this!
Climbers club guides. Generally the smaller ones.
Ha yes, St Leger! See my post just above somewhere.
Oh missed that. What you up to at the moment?
As some others have said before, I think the Ground Up Llanberis Slate guide is probably one of the best around,especially with all the extra history, background, etc.
However, in general I think Rockfax get a lot of things right regarding ease of use, with the pictures, photo topos, symbols, lists and crag comparison charts - really like the charts at the front showing grade spread, aspect and walk-in. Whether I agree with their selection of routes (or selective guidebook in general) is a different matter.
Worst guidebooks... probably some of the really old FRCC guides, or old SMC guides (Arran Arochar and Southern Highlands? for unfriendliness of use. Even something newer like the SMC Lowland Outcrops is still not overly easy to use.
Not so fussed as to L to R/R to L - the NMC Northumberland guide mixes it around, but there's logic behind it. For Bowden Doors, it goes R to L, because that's the way you approach the crag.
For overall Production, i really Like the current cheesewring and south east Cornwall guide. Check it out if you havent already.
Lovely guide all Round. just wish it was a bit smaller, and in a plastic cover.
So climbers going to the Wave at the far end of Bowden read all the other pages before they get there do they?
This is such a fundamental mistake but many guidebooks are still making it as you point out. It only works in the absence of photos. As soon as you have photos (and which modern guidebook doesn't have photos) the whole "way you approach the crag" thing falls down.
It goes wrong on 2 levels. If you have a double page spread with two photos on it and the routes list on those pages roughly corresponding to the ones featured in the photos, then the first route listed will probably be the rightmost route on the right-hand photo. ie. the routes will mostly all be on the wrong side of tyne double page spread to their photo.
Obviously not all guidebooks feature route listings and photos on the same page. In this case it is even more confusing, especially if there are two photos on the page which are left-to-right. Assume you are looking at the first route listed in the text on this page. This route isn't on the topos on this double page spread but it is on a topo. Is that topo to the left or right in the book? Answer quickly! If you stick to the left-to-right then you will always know that it is to the left.
The other way it falls down is because people don't read the text to locate where they are at a crag, they look at the photos (and maps if there are some). So when they open the books and turn the pages it is natural to expect that the crag on the next page is to the right of the one they are sanding in front of.
Don't get me started on books which have photos on double page spreads that are the reverse of the order they are visually.
(and which modern guidebook doesn't have photos)
None of the Frankenjura guides have photo topos.
You could also add a new number system on the topos in a R to L guide with different numbers in the route descriptions... all just to add to the brain bending exercise: great for quiz lovers but even some crag regulars struggle with that sort of treatment.
Colour photo topos with a common L to R format have really helped make modern cragging guidebooks more useable. Yet on big mountain routes I'm not so sure it's as important or sometimes even helpful (if you can't view the crag as the topo shows it) and the logic of approach can be more of an issue.
Nope, still left-to-right.
If you had a big mountain crag with a photo-topo on the left-hand page, and the descriptions on the right-hand page, then it probably wouldn't matter too much but, the inconsistency of occasionally doing it right-or-left will sink any guidebook user.
Ha ha - you aren't talking about the Cheddar guide per chance. My mate and I were completely stumped by the "reference" description that started by a slim tree. Sadly the book was 10+ years out of date by the time we read it. We never did find any climbs for a particular section of the cliff.
No, a trip up a multipitch route in Scotland. Three parties were queued on a stance and all of us were trying to decide which of the three almost identical chimneys above us was the next pitch (the guide just said "climb the obvious chimney").
In the event, we each took a different chimney rather than queuing, and none of us were convinced we had the right one :o)
Mostly agree but as an example I have a succession of routes to describe, each one up and left of the other. The logical route is to do the bottom right one, slant down left, do the next one etc. Sticking to L to R would also be downwards.
The diagram covers the whole face. Not decided yet but favouring upwards order even though it's technically R to L.
Sou Wester Slabs / South Ridge Direct?
No, the Direct Route on the Douglas boulder. I don't remember having any problems on South Ridge Direct, although Sou Wester Slabs was indeed a bit of a route-finding nightmare!
You need to change your thinking though. People don't read routes in succession, and they don't climb them in guidebook order. They choose a route based on all sorts of things and find a route by looking at a photo. Each route description should stand up on its own and not require that you read the previous route (unless it is a variation). As soon as you achieve this, then using R-L order becomes nothing more than an annoying inconsistency.
You have to stop thinking that you are verbally introducing people to a crag - "and here we have blah, and next is blah, etc." The photo does all that positional stuff for you. Assume that people are looking at the photo, and looking at the crag, and picking out single routes based on their grade/appearance/stars etc.
If the routes require you to scramble up leftwards passing beneath them in reverse guidebook order, then start the introduction by saying, "these following routes are reached by scrambling up leftwards until you are underneath them" at the beginning of the section.
Ah, okay. That was based on something that happened to a friend, but I might be misremembering what they said...
I'm also working on a guidebook at the moment but I haven't decided how portable the the guide needs to be. I can fattened it up with lots of history/accounts of first ascents and action shots but this may make it a little too bulky to fit in the pocket. I was thinking that maybe it was pretty standard practise to take a photo of the relevent page of a guidebook rather than carry the book on a multi-pitch climb, certainly if you aren't taking a bag?
Ahhh I see, so the whole R to L, is an artifact of guides that introduced crags progressively without the aid of photos, makes sense. Then the Squamish guide really does have no excuse.
Im a stuff it down my top Kind of man.
But i have considered one of Those cover things to Hang on harness, but reckon it could be more a pain in the ass Whacking your legs?
Might be an idea to ensure it fits one of Those?
I do that a fair bit, big routes on the chief etc. Not sure I'd want to rely on it though for alpine / big approach type stuff.
They are brilliant for small format, a well designed one has a short loop so it doesn't hang down. Pain in the arse for RF size.
I was thinking a DMM Climbers club size one. In south west so mainly use CC guides.
Which Squamish guide are you referring to here? I have the 2012 Squamish Select which Marc sent me. That does have a copyright credit for the free licence for the symbols. He seems to have forgotten the 'thanks' bit in the acknowledgements, but that's the way it goes I guess.
I haven't ever used it though but it looks like a great book. Which pages are you disappointed with particularly?
Not got it to hand, but take a look at Petrifying Wall in Murrin Park. Blatant 'approach' type logic used at many of the smaller crags.
Yeah, that's what I would call small format. Rab sell them.
Cheers. You rate them then?
My local Independent retailer sells them. Always buy From him in person.
Different with bouldering though? You do often work your way from one end of a crag to the other when you go bouldering.
At present each route is described to stand alone, with something along the lines of "approach up the path or slant down from the top of the previous route" and a specific (hopefully easy to identify) starting point for each, so people can easily mix and match. You can't see all the routes from the usual direction of approach, so the diagram is from a pic taken higher up the slope so as to get them all in. I agree people will use that and the grades/stars to decide which routes to do (my bet's on either all 5 or just the top easy one) but 99% will still come up from the right. "Slant down from the top of the following route" just seems illogical to me.
Still shouldn't be done R to L. In fact it is even more important to not upset the visual logic in this case. Putting lots of photos on a page of individual boulders is often confusing at the best of times. When they are not in the same order that they are on the crag then that just makes things very confusing.
Didn't I send you our Curbar chapter from the new Peak Bouldering Rockfax yet? That is done left-to-right on the crag, but the circuits take you from right-to-left. It works fine.
Obviously Burbage South Field Boulders are not really in a line. There you need to set up some kind of anti-clockwise logic and stick to it. But once on the boulders it has to be left to right again (anti-clockwise).
If you want to look at a really bad example peruse a copy of 'Falaises de Corse' the French guidebook to Corsica. Went there last year and knew we would have trouble just looking at the guide before we went. So it proved. Finding crags then finding routes was sometimes impossible and as to ways off muliti-pitch climbs......... Pity, because it is a fabulous destination and deserves better.
Why on earth are you saying that anyway? I can't really visualise what is going on here though. Feel free to send me a PDF - alan [at] rockfax [dot] com
Yeah. Don't use it as much as I used to, since smart phones. But big remote summer routes, of which there are plenty here, where I have nowhere else to put it. I don't like putting it down my top.
Alan I think you mentioned this on another thread and as a self taught ID user and guidebook writer I'm a bit curious about this. Are you referring to the use of styles, cross references, layers etc or something more profound?
On another guidebook style, and coincidentally i discussed this with a chap at Costa del brean yesterday, i actually would like to see all guidebooks with no star ratings.
My book is a select guide to Ireland so has a real mix of single and multipitch. Was thinking of going with 184 x 125 and keeping the page count under 300.
Should select guides have stars? I don't think it would make any sense as the routes have already been filtered for quality and should all be worth doing. Right?
Sure you and various other dinosaurs would like to see the back of stars. Visiting climbers like stars and my experience of the Tremadoc experiment is that it achieved the exact opposite of its aims (more crowding on the top classics)
Definitely Styles - Object, Para, and Character. Other things like layers can usually be sorted. ID cross-referencing is a pain so we don't use this. We do now use Script Labels as well but that is so that we can export everything, including the tops, to an App.
Quite complicated this. Happy to answer in an email if you want more info. I do think it a crucial aspect of sustainable guidebooks though.
I would like to see all guides, including definitives without star ratings. I think i am in a Minority on that Though.
One option could be to exclude stars From main body of guide, and include a starred List as an Addendum. Then i could read route descriptions without Prejudice.
I Know what i Mean anyway
Agree with Offwidth.
All you do when you remove stars is take away one of the limited criteria that people use when choosing a route. It doesn't make people spread themselves thinly across all the routes described, it simply means that they select routes based on mates recommendations, what others are doing, known classics. They will miss the one-star gem on the isolated buttress that others don't know about. It leads to a smaller set of potential target routes than when you do include stars.
Yes, because the popular routes had a big rep. People can easily look online too, so not putting stars in achieves nothing.
How does that make me a Dinosaur, youll have to explain. I would see it as a Progressive Step.
The regional/area mapping in the purple Font guide is *the* perfect example of what not to do (oddly the boulder-field mapping is superb). It's almost completely unusable.
I've always thought the old Yorkshire Grit was rather good. Lots of inspirational photos, lots of very clear and often rather charming drawings and very easy to navigate (for a text based guide).
I'm working on a Lancs bouldering guidebook at the moment so it's an issue I'm pondering. I appreciate the visual logic argument, but describing things left-to-right for certain crags gives me an uneasy feeling of doing things backwards, perhaps just for the sake of aesthetics.
Flicking through the two bouldering guides I have to hand - there are a few examples of right-to-left numbering in the latest peak bouldering and the northumberland guide, neither of which I recall causing any problems at the crag.
I wonder if left-to-right is nicer to look at, but not always as easy to use when you are at the crag.
No problem with that, as long as there is a black spot convention for routes that really are shite. A couple at Brean definitely fall into that catagory!
My pet hate with guide books is route descriptions that tell you how to climb the route, not just where the route goes. For (addmitedly not the best) example; http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=11106. Why does it need to tell you to back and foot, or which way to face, let the climber figure that out for themselves. Not as bad as route descriptions that say things like "make committing moves to good holds hidden round the corner". Well now I know there are good holds hidden round the corner that is some of the committment gone.
Re. stars. I think we should be more generous with stars. There are a lot of good no star routes out there, but how do you distinguish between a good no star route or a crap one?
But having no stars may suit some places, with a comprise of rating the sectors instead like the Siurana guide does.
Im not Proposing Banning the star system.
If they were Removed From main guide body and put in a Separate List at Back of book, that Compromise could keep all views happy.
Yep, happy with black Spots and daggers. Thats a Health warning rather than a heightened status.
I'm talking specifically about select guides.
I use styles learnt that lesson pretty quick. Was wondering more if you used InCopy or some fancy regular expression to layout route descriptions?
Yes, they certainly do. But its Sound quality if you stick to the Trad at brean 7;^O
Banging - I think auto-correct has appeared on this browser.
100% easier to use in all cases!!
I stake my reputation on this. Show me a right-to-left guidebook and I will show you something that could be improved by listing the other way!
So am I.
Ha, know what you mean.
The per area information is great, though - IIRC, for each area it gives you symbols to show whether the area is windy or sheltered, whether it's sunny or shady, whether most of the problems are fairly safe, a bit committing or properly highball, whether it's family friendly and what circuits (and hence what spread of grades) you can find there. So when you're sitting around in the campsite and trying to find an area that suits everyone in the current conditions it's fairly trivial to flick through until you find somewhere that fits the bill.
Compare this with, eg, the Vertebrate Peak District Bouldering guide, which is a beautiful piece of work in many other respects but massively frustrating if you don't know the area, because to find somewhere with plenty of problems for you to go at you have to look at every page of the thing and mentally tot up the number of problems in your grade range, while also checking the individual route descriptions to make sure they aren't alarmingly highball.
Exactly my view on the definitive guide, but I think the Lakes selective gets away without, doesn't it ? on the basis that all routes are good.
Afraid I don't have the files on this (work) computer and my email at home is currently out so can't send a pdf. The reason for the phrase is to cover the options of either approaching an individual route from the path up the corrie or doing them as a logical sequence(bottom right to top left), which is what I suspect most will do. Each route starts a few 100m down left of the previous one. Thanks for the advice but I think on this occasion I'm going to let "up" trump "L to R". All the others I'll stick with L to R.
Not all crags are better with topos.
Re l-r, what about crags which cannot be viewed from below / on the approach? Photo-diagrams not possible or at least not usable. You just go along a ledge at the base from right to left and reach the start of each route in turn.
It's much less of an issue to me in a selective but I strongly suspect the big name routes will still get more traffic than they would if the guide had stars.
Well you are getting a bit obscure here. An example crag?
I would still list from left-to-right, with an overview map, for consistency but then we always have a visual element to our presentation. If it was purely text-based then I suppose you would be forced to do it the way you approached but that is going back to the old days in terms of guidebook presentation really.
Remember, people only read connecting text in photo-topo based guidebooks when they are lost. Try to make it so that they don't get lost in the first place and you can only do this by listing left-to-right.
There must be loads of sea cliffs, and also to a much lesser extent mountain crags with vegetated lower tiers and the routes approached along a narrow halfway ledge. For sea cliffs, Golden Walls at Reiff would be a good example.
In terms of Reiff as a whole, the crags are reached in right to left order so describing the routes on them left to right would confuse matters.
The main example I can think of where the authors got it wrong and I agree with you l-r would have been better is Hells Lum (Cairngorms). All the rest of the Loch Avon basin is described l-r but for some reason this cliff is described r-l. As you say it means the numbers on the photos go the wrong way which makes the whole thing rather confusing.
What if the guide's in Arabic?
Disagree about Reiff. You select your area first and where it is in the book just needs to follow some logic: listing the areas left to right is OK in that. There is also a platform in many sections at the base (especially in the most popular bits). hence I think Reiff as a whole is a seacliff area where more than normal L to R phototopos help.
Where you ab in or have tight approaches along ledges more approach/route description and less reliance on photo-topos is useful.
OK fair points but I think Golden Walls is still a fair example. OK (at low tides) you could go out after a bit and get a view of most of the crag but its not what most would do.
Whilst I don't have that many books to compare I have had Avon and Cheddar guide and Rockfax West Country for equal amount of time. Rockfax is in pieces and Avon is absolutely fine. Use both about same. Dont recall a significant price difference? Certainly not double or treble!
The order you approach them or climb them is totally irrelevant. It's as simple as this, if I walk to the left, but have to flick a page to the right, (or read up the page), then a layer of complication has been added. It's just plain wrong, there is no ambiguity. (Unless it's in Arabic:-)
I find it amusing that people are actually trying to argue with perhaps the two best qualified people ever about simple guide book design.
Route descriptions need to be of sufficient quality to get the bowels moving in the morning.
e.g. "Make blind, slappy bouldering moves in a position of extreme danger"- Parallogism, BMC Roaches guide
Is that one of those the double guides? Two smaller guides in one wrap-around cover?
I think there are a few people posting on this thread with their own guidebooks very close to publication, which currently have R to L listings.
The one thing I would say is - the most important feature a guidebook can have is that it exists and is available. Shifting pages around in such a dramatic way at a late stage can delay publications for ages, so please take my evangelistic L to R advice as something to aim for in the long term. I would hate to be responsible for delaying a guidebook by rocking the boat at a late stage.
> Is that one of those the double guides? Two smaller guides in one wrap-around cover?
Yes. We had mixed results with that format. The skivatex covers (for the inner books) are vitually indestructible but the spine gluing was often unreliable. I think A&C worked well, as Ben has found, but West Cornwall in 2001 didn't The other main problem with skivatex is that you can't print a picture on it, which is of course an instant turn-off to many purchasers.
> I think there are a few people posting on this thread with their own guidebooks very close to publication, which currently have R to L listings.
> The one thing I would say is - the most important feature a guidebook can have is that it exists and is available. Shifting pages around in such a dramatic way at a late stage can delay publications for ages, so please take my evangelistic L to R advice as something to aim for in the long term. I would hate to be responsible for delaying a guidebook by rocking the boat at a late stage.
Can we hold you to that?
Whilst we seem to agree routes go left to right, can we also agree that north is up on a map and a map without a scale is just a piece of abstract art?
In this case there are only 4 routes, each up and left of the previous one. They follow on fairly naturally (although each could be done separately). I plan to assume people will start at bottom right, describe that route, then a link to the next, then mention the direct approach to the middle one, describe middle one etc... I think this makes sense in this instance. If there were more routes on each buttress, then L to R on the individual buttresses would be sensible, and then probably L to R overall too. (does the ambiguity apply to Gaelic too?):-)
All advice appreciated
I haven't of course read all your responses so someone may have already listed the lists I feel are essential:
It should have an alphabetically arranged list of crags/areas/sectors (whichever is appropriate). Many guides, including Rockfax Costa Blanca which I'm just looking at, have such a list but it's arranged in page order, as a "contents" list. If I have no prior knowledge of the region or it's geography, and want to look up a place that has been recommended, there is no way of going straight to it.
On the topic of such lists, a route index, similarly alphabetically arranged, is essential, but please please please don't list climbs beginning with "The" under T.
A list of first ascensionists, cross referenced in the text with the date or at least the year, is important. (If you see this Steve Broadbent such cross referencing is missing from your latest excellent Anti Atlas guides).
I've always liked the (necessarily subjective) graded lists. Good fun and at least as valid as the FRCC's recent adoption of e.g. MS-; MS; MS+; S-; S; S+; MVS-; MVS; MVS+; VS-; VS . . . . ad nauseum.
A last point of personal preference which may be controversial as I know many people like the action photos, but I feel modern guide books have tended to overdo it with consequent increase in cost and, more practically, size and weight.
Not strictly a guidebook layout thing, but accuracy trumps glossy presentation every time IMO. Without naming names, some of the best presented books can contain a frustrating number of inaccuracies.
The second half of that simply doesn't follow from the first half.
I take Alan's point about l-r when using photo-diagrams, but if you had a photo for every tiny obscure crag in a definitive guide, many books would be twice the size. Without photos I think it sometimes makes sense to describe based on the order routes are reached.
Ok you need to do this because when you cover a crag you include most routes right.
Yes, we do include more routes in a Rockfax, however I would still include stars in any guidebook.
Removing stars does nothing to spread the load no matter how small the set of routes is.
The vast majority of guidebook users want stars.
maybe it's been mentioned already, but the only feature of a guidebook I've ever (in limited experience) particularly disliked is the positioning of the spine along the shorter side of the pages. Making for a coffee table style book that just looks weaker and less durable than I want from a book that'll be thrown on the floor/stuffed into bags/get wet etc.
I refuse to buy "Peak Bouldering" for this very reason.
That's my own experience. I find when I visit Tremadog I'm very unadventurous and end up repeating routes I've done before rather than seeking new climbs which might turn out to be rubbish and which I probably won't be able to find anyway (I'm still using the old guide)
Elsewhere on the site
The B.D.V. — short for Black Diamond Vertical — jacket and pants are Black Diamond’s most versatile climbing... Read more
This streamlined, midweight thermal layer has an incredibly speedy moisture wicking ability and dries ultra fast if it gets... Read more
In tonight's Friday Night Video, we see Alex Honnold soloing Heaven 5.12d in Yosemite Valley. The route starts 3000ft above the... Read more
October 21, 2014 – Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry,... Read more
Climbing as a discipline offers plentiful metaphors for tackling life's obstacles - bravery, courage, climbing to... Read more