/ NEW REVIEW: ROCKFAX - North Wales Climbs

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North Wales Climbs Montage, 4 kbIn November North Wales got a new guidebook from Rockfax. In this review, Steve Crowe has a look through the new guidebook and gives us his thoughts.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=6039
Mark Collins - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:
Sounds good, I could do with an update from my old circa late 90s guidebook. Is Snakes And Ladders (and Tunnels) in it, or any other wet weather alternatives does anyone know?
Post edited at 13:11
In reply to Mark Collins:

> Sounds good, I could do with an update from my old circa late 90s guidebook. Is Snakes And Ladders (and Tunnels) in it, or any other wet weather alternatives does anyone know?

No, we didn't include that. Mark Reeves and I did discuss making it into a MiniGuide which we may still do.

The other wet weather alternatives are Tremadog, the Ormes and Idwal Slabs!

And the Beacon, of course.

Alan
Mark Collins - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

No worries, thanks for replying Alan.
Mark Reeves - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

There is also Lochwood's Chimney which is fun in wet weather and if the rain comes from the right direction the Hyll Drem Girdle!

Some of the easy climbing in the meolwyns is also OK in bad weather as there is not much lichen and the rock is quite 'grippy'!
Mark Collins - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to Mark Reeves:

Oh yes, thanks Mark that's reminded me of a photo I saw of Lochwood's recently and thought at the time it looked worth a go. Agree with Meolwyns comment also.
simes303 - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

What's the route on the cover?
1poundSOCKS - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to simes303: Left Wall isn't it?

hands solo - on 08 Jan 2014
another one for the collection

Ffion Blethyn - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

Lucking four word two getting hold of a copy :-)
psychomansam - on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

Of course the review fails to mention this being the most controversial UK climbing guide in recent history.

I'll avoid the topic too, but allow me to recommend the excellent and up-to-date alternative available from GroundUp, which is also much more a local affair.
In reply to psychomansam:

> I'll avoid the topic too,

No you won't if you then go on to say:

> but allow me to recommend the excellent and up-to-date alternative available from GroundUp, which is also much more a local affair.

In what sense is one more local than the other? I thought Mark Reeves lives in North Wales? Where were the two respective guide actually printed? Are either printed in the UK?
GrahamD - on 09 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

"The photodiagrams come up the standard that we now expect from Rockfax Guidebooks" is not exactly a clear and objective statement, is it ? in my experience Rockfax photo topos range from peerless (Grit series) to useless (eg Willersley, or Sella, where the bottom of the route is obscured and the top of the route is so fore shortened that a good hand diagram would be infinitely better)
In reply to GrahamD:

> (eg Willersley, or Sella, where the bottom of the route is obscured and the top of the route is so fore shortened that a good hand diagram would be infinitely better)

Willersley is a difficult crag to photo for sure, but I think the versions we have in the Peak Limestone 2011 guide are excellent compared to the ones from Northern Limestone 2004 which were indeed very foreshortened.

I am very puzzled by your choice of Sella since we have drawn topos over those for the most part using the very effective photo and topo combination.

Also, I would agree with you that there are certainly some crags where drawn topos would appear to function better. This doesn't, however, agree with the feedback we have received over the years where people infinitely prefer photo-topos to drawn tops every time. We do still use some drawn tops but only where a photo topo is totally impossible.

Alan
Double Knee Bar - on 09 Jan 2014
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Alan,
Off topic a little, but note for any future editions. The belay at Willersley that is shared by three climbs is shown in the topo about 5-6m too high in the latest peak limestone.
This is quite misleading for Lone Tree Groove and may mislead a climber to go up a protectionless corner.
In reply to Double Knee Bar:

> Off topic a little, but note for any future editions. The belay at Willersley that is shared by three climbs is shown in the topo about 5-6m too high in the latest peak limestone.

> This is quite misleading for Lone Tree Groove and may mislead a climber to go up a protectionless corner.

Thanks. That is useful feedback I will pass that on to Chris who looks after the info for that book.

Cheers

Alan
GrahamD - on 09 Jan 2014
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I know I'm probably in a minority here but for larger limestone venues I preferred the very simple old skool Rockfax drawings (Pembroke, Portland etc)

To be fair I only have Northern Limestone and on reflection it was Wildcat, not Willersley I was thinking about.

Serious point on Sella - the hand drawn sections where they were obscured by trees could really do with a lot more local detail (drawn or in the description) to identify features on the ground. Even since the guide came out there are odd in fill lines which makes counting lines from the end of the crag unreliable.

Anyway the comment was more about the reviewer's assertion about the Rockfax photo topos in general which seemed to indicate an impartial assessment of what was in front of them. Far more useful in a review would be to indicate whether the material made it easier or harder to find routes than from existing guides.
Mark Reeves - on 09 Jan 2014
In reply to TobyA:

> I thought Mark Reeves lives in North Wales?

Yes I do Toby. But I have only lived here since 1995, so just under twenty years so I don't think that counts as local just yet!
pete johnson - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

Pretty pointless guide book really. There is already an excellent and up to date guide -North Wales Rock - from Ground Up. In addition there is a definitive North Wales Limestone guide due out soon.
1poundSOCKS - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to pete johnson: So I can buy the Rockfax now, and it covers the same ground as 2 guidebooks, one of which isn't even out yet?

Ramblin dave - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

I do have trouble seeing the big selling point over NWR, though. The biggest difference that anyone can suggest is that "it's got some Mid Wales stuff instead of Lleyn". Which is true, but I can't imagine that two years ago people were banging their heads against the wall saying "dammit, why on earth isn't there a guidebook that covers most of the same stuff as North Wales Rock but with some Mid Wales stuff instead of Lleyn..."

If anyone from Rockfax (or anyone else) wants to have a better punt at explaining the unique and distinctive vision that sets North Wales Climbs apart from the rest I'd be glad to hear it, though...

For my part I'm happy using the old North Wales Classics until I've built up a proper set of definitives...
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> If anyone from Rockfax (or anyone else) wants to have a better punt at explaining the unique and distinctive vision that sets North Wales Climbs apart from the rest I'd be glad to hear it, though...

Is there a problem with an area having two selective Guidebooks?

The Peak District has an overlap of three for most crags, the South West has three, North Wales already had three, Scotland has at least two (I think), and Fontainbleau has about 10. Surely this is a good thing for people to be able to choose the style and coverage that suits them isn't it?

Alan
1poundSOCKS - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Ramblin dave: I've got all the definitives anyway, including the Ground Up slate and Gogarth guides, so obviously I don't need it, I was just saying, if I was in the market for one guidebook to cover North Wales, this might be a good option.

pete johnson - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Nitpicking, the Ground Up and Rockfax guides don't cover exactly the same ground - Rock fax has some routes from Mid Wales and Ground Up doesn't, while the reverse is the case for the Lleyn. Essentially though, they are covering the same ground including Pen Trwyn. I can't see the point of having a second guide (Rockfax) when there is already a perfectly good one available(Ground Up).
pete johnson - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Alan, its very kind of you to provide us with more consumer choice. But as you say, there is already plenty of choice available!
andrewmcleod - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to UKC Gear:

You can never own too many guidebooks :P

(as a corollary, there can never be too many guidebooks to purchase)
In reply to pete johnson:

> Alan, its very kind of you to provide us with more consumer choice.

You are welcome. It is what I have been doing for the last 22 years.

Alan
JezH on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
The sample topo's look nice, but in the Wen Zawn picture why has the top pitch of Concrete Chimney been left out in favour of joining the route in to Dream? I thought it was a great pitch in a brilliant position, high up in the Zawn. It seems a shame to leave it out.

It looks like it'll be a great guidebook though.
Post edited at 13:57
In reply to JezH:

> The sample topo's look nice, but in the Wen Zawn picture why has the top pitch of Concrete Chimney been left out in favour of joining the route in to Dream? I thought it was a great pitch in a brilliant position, high up in the Zawn. It seems a shame to leave it out.

We included the combination route Concrete Dream instead of Concrete Chimney. We have done that in a few places in the guide - introduced different combinations as new options.

Alan
TRip - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to pete johnson:

Hi Pete,

If you'd actually looked at both guides in your hands you would realize that they are slightly different products.

For starters the Rockfax is a fair bit more comprehensive in certain areas than the Ground Up. As an 6a/E1 climber there is a much wider selection of routes at UPT and the Slate. Whereas I exhausted the those areas in North Wales Rock several years ago.

It also includes a load of great neglected mid grade classics in Mid Wales, an area that was left out by Ground Up, which probably compounded the areas' neglect. (It was in Paul Williams remember.) Leaving out the Lleyn is a more sensible choice in my view, having lived in North Wales for 4 years and visited it once. (It's choss - don't go!)

Also the topos in the RF book are superb, much better than the Ground Up offerings due to the big pages and the photo manipulation to accentuate features. I do admit that the Rockfax book is pretty bulky, but it probably isn't any heavier than NWR, which is too heavy to lug up routes anyway.

I'm looking forward to seeing this hallowed North Wales Limestone, though it would probably appear sooner if Pete Harrison spent less time ranting on the other channel.

Tom
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Simonfarfaraway - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

That's a good idea, but you should still include the original routes then a punter like myself can mix up the pitches, or complete the routes as they were first climbed. I've climbed 'dream' but not concrete chimney so id need another guide.

Nice pics/topos
spidermonkey09 - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to TRip:

I think this is probably the best point about the guides to be made. If you're climbing E4 then I'm sure Ground Up is all you'll ever need, and a brilliant book it is too.

However, when I bought it I remember thinking I'd never be able to climb the vast majority of stuff in there- I was probably about an HVS climber at the time. Now I look at the book in a completely different light, but a bit more choice between VS-E1 and 5+-6b would have been great.

I have no personal need for the Rockfax, but I've seen a copy and its a very sound guide that people will get a lot out of. Wheres the problem? There are about 4 books covering the same area in the peak.
pete johnson - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to TRip:

Tom

'If you'd actually looked at both guides in your hands you would realize that they are slightly different products.'
I have.They are. But they largely cover the same ground. The clue is in their respective titles.

'As an 6a/E1 climber there is a much wider selection of routes at UPT and the Slate. Whereas I exhausted the those areas in North Wales Rock several years ago.'
There's not much worth doing at that grade at UPT anyway. If you've exhausted the slate routes in the Ground Up guide at that grade why not buy their definitive guide, which is a superb book in many ways not just as a climbing guide, and support a small local company in the process?

'It also includes a load of great neglected mid grade classics in Mid Wales, an area that was left out by Ground Up, which probably compounded the areas' neglect. (It was in Paul Williams remember.) Leaving out the Lleyn is a more sensible choice in my view, having lived in North Wales for 4 years and visited it once. (It's choss - don't go!)'
They're supposed to be guides to North Wales! Have to disagree with you re Lleyn. There are some great adventures to be had there.

'Also the topos in the RF book are superb, much better than the Ground Up offerings due to the big pages and the photo manipulation to accentuate features. I do admit that the Rockfax book is pretty bulky, but it probably isn't any heavier than NWR, which is too heavy to lug up routes anyway'
They are pretty good. One of the reasons why the Ground Up book was so welcome when it first came out was that at last there were accurate and reliable topos for the Gogarth cliffs. It took the authors a lot of time and effort (and route cleaning) to sort those out. I think they deserve the climbing community's continued support just for that.

'I'm looking forward to seeing this hallowed North Wales Limestone, though it would probably appear sooner if Pete Harrison spent less time ranting on the other channel'
Bit unfair and disrespectful to Pete. There are a number of reasons why Pete's guide hasn't come out yet which were beyond his control, not least serious injury and recuperation


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