UKC

Climbing books

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 subtle 24 Nov 2021

Have read quite a few climbing books in my time, from the sublime to the outrageous, and for a while they all tended to get a bit "samey" so I stopped.

Recently bought a copy of Crazy Sorrow: The Life and Death of Alan Mullin - my goodness, this is most unlike any climbing book / biography of a climber.

Yes, Alan was a controversial climber, at the time, although, looking back, perhaps more so than he should have been.

I've not yet finished the book, so not got onto what happened once he stopped climbing - but what a book so far - well done to the author (he posts on here), and all the contributors.

Anyway, once I finish this I may start looking at climbing books once again - any recommendations?  

 Offwidth 24 Nov 2021
In reply to subtle:

Thanks for the tip.

Two at the top of my mind, away from standard classics or famous figures, are Tears of the Dawn by Jules Lines and Sarah Jane Dobner's (of UKC controversy) A Feeling for Rock. The most recent surprise read was Four Miles High by Josephine Scarr, which I really enjoyed for the non climbing bits as well as the climbing.

In reply to subtle:

The Bond by Simon McCarthy is excellent, and one of few in the genre that I would consider recommending to non-climbers

 PaulJepson 24 Nov 2021
In reply to subtle:

Learning to Breathe by Andy Cave is great and not at all like other climbing books I've read.

I really enjoyed The Calling by Barry Blanchard as well. Mostly ice, alpine and high-altitude climbing, which was different to what I was used to, but also touches on socioeconomic and race issues and his difficult upbringing and family life. 

 kmsands 24 Nov 2021
In reply to subtle:

Some I've enjoyed:

Climbers by M John Harrison is a brilliant novel, recently discussed on a long thread on here.

Black Car Burning by Helen Mort.

One Green Bottle by Elizabeth Coxhead is a period piece, but worthwhile.

Slatehead, a recent book by Peter Goulding.

Full of Myself by Johnny Dawes, though it kind of falls apart in the latter half.

If your tastes stretch to poetry, Rock As Gloss by Mark Goodwin.

 Mick Ward 25 Nov 2021
In reply to subtle:

> ...but what a book so far - well done to the author (he posts on here), and all the contributors.

Before 'Crazy Sorrow', Grant put together and edited 'The White Cliff', a history of Gogarth, which for me is the best book ever written about British climbing. (Caveat: have two, very minor, contributions in it, inconsequential in relation to stunning articles from others.) Rightly, in my view, Grant didn't take narrow terms of reference (i.e. just Gogarth) so sometimes the action will wander to scary solos on Cloggy, icy adventures in Patagonia... then back to horrorfests at Gogarth. His psychiatric analysis of Paul Pritchard's near-fatal accident in Wen Zawn is outstanding. If you climb to feed the rat, it will give you cause to think about what may happen to others if that rat gets too well fed.

Mick 

 jcw 09:40 Sat
In reply to subtle:

I've just been given Peter Foster's biography of Graham Brown. I've long been bored by climbing books after reading so many, but this is totally fascinating. Well researched, beautifully written, his study of this "groundbreaking neurophysiologist,  bold imaginative and cantankerous personality" (cf Venables' blurb) is an eye opener and an extraordinary revelation of the history of British climbing between the wars. 

In reply to jcw:

> I've just been given Peter Foster's biography of Graham Brown. I've long been bored by climbing books after reading so many, but this is totally fascinating.

Not heard of that. Sounds really good. I read Graham Brown's "Brenva" many years ago which remarkably documents his obsession with that side of Mont Blanc.

In reply to subtle:

Read some David Roberts for some outstanding writing. "The Mountain of My Fear" is an enduring classic and "The Ridge Between Life And Death" is really exceptional as a grippingly honest climbing autobiography and examination of risk.

 jcw 10:45 Sat
In reply to Robert Durran:

yes, that's been the limit of our knowledge up to now. Read out of duty and boring. Not so this! 

In reply to jcw:

> yes, that's been the limit of our knowledge up to now. Read out of duty and boring. Not so this! 

Just ordered it!

 subtle 09:54 Mon
In reply to Robert Durran:

Thanks for all the recommendations on this thread, will have a look at some of them, cheers

In reply to Mick Ward:

Another thumbs up for The White Cliff.

 sjminfife 11:07 Mon
In reply to subtle:

Summit Fever by Andrew Greig.... mountaineering from an outsider's pont of view.

 Mick Ward 16:37 Mon
In reply to sjminfife:

I'll grow old banging on here about how Greig's Electric Brae is a superb book about climbers, rather than climbing per se. It aches to be filmed. 

At the risk of embarrassing a well-known contributor to these forums (and indeed this thread!) Anne Sauvy is a brilliant mountaineering writer. In the 1990s, for my sins I used to review climbing books in Climber and On The Edge. She got by far the best review - and thoroughly deserved it. 

Mick 

 sjminfife 18:02 Mon
In reply to Mick Ward:

I enjoyed "That Summer" but really need to read more by Andrew Greig. He does not seem to have the recognition he deserves.

 Mick Ward 18:31 Mon
In reply to sjminfife:

Agree. 'That Summer' is heartbreaking, especially when...

It must have been like that for so many. 

Mick 

In reply to Sam W:

> The Bond by Simon McCarthy is excellent, and one of few in the genre that I would consider recommending to non-climbers

I'll second that, it's a terrific book.

T.

 Offwidth 01:24 Tue
In reply to Mick Ward:

Which book(s) by Anne Mick?

 Mick Ward 07:50 Tue
In reply to Offwidth:

Les Flammes de Pierre and The Game of Mountain and Chance. Both were published by Ken Wilson who was a great admirer. I haven't read her book about spending a year (I think) with the Chamonix rescue service. She must have had huge fortitude. I'm pretty sure I'd have gone home in tears after the first day. 

I've just realised that Anne Sauvy died relatively recently. Clearly I've made the gaffe to end all gaffes and unreservedly apologise. I would ask that any further contributions are confined to her stature as a writer. She was a wonderful writer.

Mick 

Post edited at 07:54
 jcw 09:45 Tue
In reply to Mick Ward:

No gaffe at all Mick. There's no reason at all you should have known and I was absolutely delighted you had written that spontaneously

 Offwidth 09:49 Tue
 Mick Ward 10:05 Tue
In reply to jcw:

Thanks to both of you. It was written straight from the heart.

Mick 


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