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REVIEW: Inner Hebrides and Arran Guidebook 4 Jul 2014
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My first impressions were good. The book is very nicely produced and bound, and has full-colour photos throughout. In keeping with the JingoWobbly format, there is a huge amount of information available to the reader in the form of numerous quirky symbols and icons. The book has been written in French and English (with the introduction in German and Italian too) and is aimed at the beginner to intermediate level boulderers, who are looking to enjoy a selection of the many circuits that Fontainebleau has to offer. The book has been written to fill the massive gap in the guidebook market left by other new guidebooks which just contain information on a selection of the harder problems. It will appeal to the majority of climbers who want to visit the boulders for the first time, or those who want more information on the many more 'achievable' circuits that are to be found, and will definitely appeal to climbers with young families who want to go bouldering together. The guide concentrates on problems up to Font 5c in grade.
My gripes, although they are few, are as follows. There is no information on any of the harder problems, so if you want to push your grade or locate the harder classics in a given area the guide will be no help. I find the huge quantity of symbols and icons displayed for each problem on each circuit almost overload you with information, much of which is not necessary (e.g. whether a problem has a 'special feel to it', or if you should use a crash pad, or what species of tree surround the boulder, etc). Whilst this stuff is nice to know, I had to keep referring back to the various keys to the symbols, and after a while this became very frustrating. Whilst I'm sure some users may eventually begin to grasp the intricacies of this symbols system, I did not have the patience to keep on looking stuff up. I just want to climb, not get a PhD in JingoWobbly symbols. You can have too much information.
The book has hundreds of colour photos that are mostly very nice, with the odd few that seem to have been either 'Photoshopped' too much or have not reproduced well (e.g. page 41). I didn't particularly like the quirky names given by the author to the circuits - this seemed a bit naf. Surely the name of the area and the colour of the circuit would have done?
Overall, a well-produced guidebook that will appeal to Fontainebleau first-timers and those who like the JingoWobbly style of guide. Not one for the hard-core Fontainebleau devotees.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Percy Bishton: