I've been fantasising about possible future alpine adventures. I'm considering doing a course next year but all thoughts need to wait until I've saved up. In the mean time could anyone recommend a book with instruction on Alpine CLimbing. The sort of thing that will help maintain excitement whilst I'm saving and which will give me a head start on a training course (or should I be able to simply go with a more experienced mountaineer).
Thank you in advance, oh and I have a copy of the "winter skills book"
In reply to puppythedog: extreme Alpinism by mark twight as it fills in all the blanks. Any general mountaineering book will teach you the essentials. Twight a book will help you ignore the bits that need ignoring. Also speed climbing by hans florine is interesting in parts especially if you want to concentrate on rock routes... An essentials course will help, big balls will help, mountain experience is the best. The best bit of advice in twight a book is beware accidental success. And if you've got a competent mate with whom you can share a tent and rope for a week or two, that is far more important than what grade they climb.
In reply to puppythedog: Hi James. Speak to me the next time you see me at the wall. The Mark Twight Book is good but a bit "hard core" and radical for a novice but you could borrow mine if you like. The best instructional aid I've seen is the BMC "Alpine Essentials" DVD and that is worth buying rather than borrowing.
Be prepared to dig deep for the gear. After buying it all you won't have much money left for a course.
After reading the instructional books get on 'Starlight and Storm' by Gaston Rebuffat and 'Beyond the mountain' by steve house for some propper alpine psyche.
Light and fast is definitely an inspirational read, and apparently steve house is writing a book about training for alpine climbing which could be just what's needed- but not an 'instructional' book per se.
Cosley and Houston is good on Alpinism and Will Gadd's book in the same series is great on ice and mixed. Also Peter Cliff's short book. Freedom of the Hills is good as an encyclopedia but not so much as an instructional text. Twight isn't really good as a beginner instructional text but is still a good read.
James, In Monte Viso's Horizon by Will McLewin is not an instructional book, but you will learn all sorts of invaluable practical tips you won't learn elsewhere. It will certainly 'maintain the excitement…' and you will have a really great laugh into the bargain. BT winner around 1992. Can lend if you are around sometime.
In reply to John Willson: Hi John, I've been meaning to pop out for a coffee or see if you fancy a day trip walking in the black mountains or some such. I will drop you an e-mail this week (If I don't feel free to drop me one
In reply to Al Randall: yep it's hardcore, but the stories are inspiring, and it gets you into the right way of thinking, that light is right and should help you avoid the typical Brit on holiday trap with the kitchen sink strapped to your pack... I always have a read before I leave for a trip because there is nearly always something you can take from it to sharpen up on...
Rather than a book on technique I would suggest reading any auto-biographies you can find of the great alpine climbers of the last century. Rebuffat has already been suggested, but those of Terray, Desmaison and Bonatti are incredibly inspiring. The bits about their youth and how they started off, their mistakes and learning process are particularly good too - they didn't go on a course they learnt by experience... but admittedly with the advantage of living in the Alps! On the other hand it was their overwhelming enthusiasm and desire to climb which organised their entire lives... Joe Brown's "The Hard Years" will give you a more British view of a similar experience.
Meantime, all winter, don't miss a chance to get out to the hills, even if it's only hill walking in the rain. Scrambling on wet rocks in the cold when completely knackered is the best way I can think of to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the Alps
In reply to puppythedog: Nobody has mentioned the White Spider by H Harrer but the book I most enjoyed for the early days of Alpine mountaineering was Anderl Heckmair's book 'My life'. His description of his early days made me wish I'd lived in those carefree days...but then they had the war and being introduced to Hitler...Heckmair was 'suitably sceptical' in retrospect at least but it rings truer than Harrer's reflections on his relationship with Nazism.
In reply to puppythedog: I found Climbing Ice by Yvon Chouinard helpful when I started. Outdated now perhaps in extreme techniques but good on the basics of climbing snow. Even though it is by an American! Only available I would think as a used copy.