I've been climbing 4 years now, and I can't remember the names of any routes I've climbed. It has got to the point where we go on a climbing trip, we turn up at the crag, and I say "Oh. I've been here before." I'd like to start a logbook so at very least I can remember where I've been. I don't want to put it online however. What I need is advice for what the columns should be. I do trad and winter and a lot of hillwalking and I would want to cover all of them in one book. I guess the headings I can think of would be Date, Crag/Mountain, route, style of ascent. But then I think I should probably have all the routes I failed on too. Then I think I should have a section for notes. Anything else I'm missing? Also do people take the logbook to the crag with them or just fill it out when they get home? I'm horrible at organising myself too...
My old logbook, kept for 30 years, from late 60s to late 90s, had these columns:
Date, E, D, C, B, A, Crag, Mountain, Area, Role, Partner/s, Comment.
E-A were narrow columns, in effect acting as margins, and to the right of A was a broader column so the route names could spill over. The letters representing broad bands of grades: E - Extreme, D - VS/HVS, C - Severe, B - up to V Diff, A - Scramble (or a notable walk, in brackets) In the Role column the following letters were entered: W = Walk, hillwalk, L = Lead, or lead crux if rest of route much easier, S = Seconded whole route, or led only easy pitches, A = Alternate leads, V = Varied leads, TR = Top rope. Comment was a one liner assessing the route, the experience and how well or badly I had done it.
In reply to Bob_the_Builder: it's perfectly simple: keep a climbing diary. I've done so for the past 50 years. you can put in as much or little as you want according to circs. Don't
bother too much about grades and technical details. You can always look these up later in guide books. Keep it informal. You also have the advantage today of keeping it on computer (though not necessarily on expeditions when a small note book remains essential) so you don't have to go through the process of typing it all up as I have had to do and try reading my own writing!
In reply to Bob_the_Builder:
I use excel and update it at work, can add and remove columns to your hearts content. I also have a paper book that I jot everything in just to remind me when I update the excel version
Mine, kept for 48 years and counting, is after the manner of Gordon Stainforth's admirable one but less elaborate - this means some bits are left to memory, which seems OK so far but I'm not even 70 yet - who knows what my memory will be like as I ruminate over my life's history in 30 year's time?! For this reason I'd say Gordon's is a terrific model.
It does lack two vital columns - perhaps best at the right hand side, saving the best till last so to speak - these should be labelled "PUB" and "BEER" (how much and of what)! I was once told (and like to believe) that Ron Hill's meticulously kept running diary which, like my climbing one, began in the mid 60's, lovingly includes this.
Aside to Gordon - why did you stop in the nineties?
I stopped in 2007 because of an eyesight problem (a macular pucker) ... could no longer see my feet properly, in focus, and in 3D. Found it destroyed that essential edge of confidence, and I was having to move far too slowly and cautiously. Still enjoy hillwalking and scrambling a lot (though I have to be a bit careful on the latter).
In reply to Bob_the_Builder: While admiring the clinical approach of Gordon's I find it quite soulless. Sometimes you really want to go to town and describe in detail the whole vivid experience of say a route like the Comici on the Salame caught in a storm. Other times it suffices to write "pretty grotty weather: half a dozen routes in the pm with Martin at Stanage". Perhaps at the moment you might want to record details of exactly what these were, but in retrospect they will simply merge into the usual Stanage run around. What will matter is what you said about that first day on the Ben, the first time you did the Unconquerables,your first big Alpine routes etc. If you keep a diary you can record anything you want and then transfer it in due course to columns and statistics. The advantage of keeping it on a computer is that you can edit it as and when you want, while still having the orignal which one day will bring memories for both you and your friends of some great or indeed trivial experience. But I agree with you writing it in a note book is much less impersonal. It is only after typing my note books up that I have kept what I still manage to do directly on the computer.
Still, this is UK climbing so it is British and when you come to fill in anything overseas for say your photos, you will find Name Of Crag? Bit weird if it is Everest.
"While admiring the clinical approach of Gordon's I find it quite soulless. Sometimes you really want to go to town and describe in detail the whole vivid experience . . . . "
Gordon has other ways of expressing the "soul" of a climbing experience. Might I be presumptuous enough to recommend a read of his account of a "rather harrowing" day or two early in his climbing career - it's entitled "Fiva" after the name of the route concerned.
> In reply to Bob_the_Builder: While admiring the clinical approach of Gordon's I find it quite soulless. Sometimes you really want to go to town and describe in detail the whole vivid experience of say a route like the Comici on the Salame caught in a storm.
What I didn't say above is that I also kept a much more detailed logbook, a kind of climbing diary. I first started that columnar version in the early 80s, because the diary logbooks had by then run into three volumes and had become very messing and confusing. You could only look back and find particular climbs with great difficulty, so I wanted something that gave a clearly overview. So I transcibed all the info into the new version. As climbing became less important in my life, and had lost something of its earlier freshness (though still much enjoyed) I found the much sparse format quite adequate. The point is that if the key facts are there with a few important comments, many of the details of the day will come flooding back in one's memory.
>Other times it suffices to write "pretty grotty weather: half a dozen routes in the pm with Martin at Stanage". Perhaps at the moment you might want to record details of exactly what these were, but in retrospect they will simply merge into the usual Stanage run around. What will matter is what you said about that first day on the Ben, the first time you did the Unconquerables,your first big Alpine routes etc. If you keep a diary you can record anything you want and then transfer it in due course to columns and statistics.
One huge advantage of the slim version is that it's very easy to keep right up to date, because it doesn't take more than a few seconds to fill in.
I think I've shown various pages from my first 'summer of 68' climbing journal - which predated any of the above logbooks - several times here before. Here's a sample page:
I do write down a story for my photo albums on particularly memorable days. This logbook is more for a reference book with a bit of character. I've got a layout now which includes a decently sized notes section for the war stories. The crag column is titled "Crag/Hill", which covers Everest. =D
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Great. That's what I wanted to hear. All I was trying to bring out was that it is necessary to have the diary or similar form and not just the pure log book. I think it is important that those who are starting out learn to do more than just log climbs. I suspect we don't disagree at all. Wish my handwriting was as clear as yours
The route's in the Romsdal area of Norway and the account's in Gordon's book, appropriately titled "Fiva". It's a gripping read. If you want you can buy my copy now I've read it - I love a bit of re-cycling. £6 posted?
That's a shame. Good to know it's not stopped you getting out though.
Reading your contributions on this website I somehow get the feeling we might have come across one another. I sojourned in Kent in the early seventies and was sometimes to be seen on the sandstone. This was in the days of Terry and Julie Tullis and worthies of The Sandstone Climbing Club like Phil Hennessy, Jim Collins, Jim Wigginton; the Holliwell Brothers when they weren't taking Snowdonia by storm. When Tony Wilmott, Dave Edwards, The Wintringhams and the like were discovering Baggy etc. The days of stopping for a fry up at "The Hollies" on the way to Wales when the route from Kent went via Marble Arch as the M25 hadn't been conceived. Might our paths have crossed there and then I wonder?
I don't take my logbook to the crag - it's digital and the pc's dated and bulky. That it exists at all is thanks to my local job centre - while unemployed 15 or so years ago, they sent me on a 4 days course to 'learn computing'. Having completed the course in 2 days (Word, Excel & Acces - remember them?), it was suggested I spend 2 days compiling an Access database - so I took in my guidebooks and began inputting a climbing logbook. They even gave me a floppy disk to copy it and take home. Would have been great if only I had my own computer!
6 months later someone gave me a cast off pc and the remaining 20 years of illegible scrawl was painstakingly transferred from dog-eared guides to my personal digital database. If only UKC logbooks had been around, it would all have been so much easier.
I've never had a column for weather.
I've never needed a way to log routes on temporarily solid water - I've been trying hard to forget all of those...
In reply to Bob_the_Builder: I used to keep a paper diary but I now use the UKC logbook almost exclusively. The great advantage of an electronic list is its searchability - sometimes its only when I come to log a climb that I realise I've climbed it before.
The vast majority of entries are short routes on my local gritstone - the memorable ones don't need a diary entry to stay in my mind, and the others don't justify one. For special experiences I may still do a diary entry, or my likely a write-up for my climbing club's newsletter (which is now online too). For big trips I still keep a diary.