UKC

British Alpinism/Mountaineering is (almost) dead.

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johnr2 29 Jan 2009
Firstly; I'm old and knackered, barely climb diff anymore, but I lament the days when the Brits were up there with the worlds best.

We just don't seem to do anything 'cutting edge' anymore.


Cutting edge should make you sit bolt upright in your seat with amazement.

For example:

Ueli Steck: Excalibur, Eiger speed record (and many others)

Hansjörg Auer: free solo Attraverso il Pesce in Marmolada

Profit: 3 north faces in 24hrs

Hubers: Brandler Hass solo + 8b at altitude

Russians: West face of K2 + North face Everest + N face of Jannu


...the British arn't doing this stuff (unless I missed it).
All the Brits are doing is a few repeats of old routes and a few new 'filler' lines... with a whole lot of back slapping and trumpeting.

Which was the last route (abroad) the Brits did which was world class?

It's a fair question.

In reply to johnr2: (I'll repeat my answer from the other thread)

Fowler and Ramsden won the Piola d'or a few years ago for one of their routes. There are many other inspiring greater ranges ascents by British climbers too. I think you are confusing "publicity grabbing" with cutting edge.
In reply to johnr2:

Cartwright/Cross N/W Ridge of Ama Dablam, 2001 ??
johnr2 29 Jan 2009
Attention grabbing? All those routes are not 'attention grabbing', they are at the leading edge of climbing, and naturaly 'grab attention'.

Anyone who re-writes the rules, grabs attention.

When was the last time the Brits did anything (abroad) that made you sit bolt up-right in amazement?
johnr2 29 Jan 2009
'Cartwright/Cross N/W Ridge of Ama Dablam, 2001 ??'

Great new route, great guys. But could it be placed in the list above?
In reply to johnr2:

Benson/Roberston: Serge Gousseault Route, last year.

Ian Parnell, Nick Bullock, Jim Hall and a few others are still up there, and you never know when Andy Parkin will reappear and pull something remarkable out of the bag.

Profit did his north faces trilogy more than 20 years ago! If that's your timeline then there's plenty more brits in the running.
 PeterM 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:
> and trumpeting.

TRUMPETS! Bring on the TRUMPETS!
 Nevis-the-cat 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

British alpinism is alive and well and modest in its achievements.

In reply to johnr2:
> 'Cartwright/Cross N/W Ridge of Ama Dablam, 2001 ??'
>
> Great new route, great guys. But could it be placed in the list above?

Depends what you are looking for. If someone climbed the Eiger NF standing on their hands blindfolded in 5min I get the impression they would be added to your list. In this case no. If you are looking for people doing bold, committing, adventurous routes done in good style, then yes.

johnr2 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Nevis-the-cat: ....good answer
 Erik B 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2: The God Delusion IX 9 on Beinn Bhann is World Class, and was done only a month ago
johnr2 29 Jan 2009
Please re-read the list . I can asure you that none of these are party tricks:

Russians: West face of K2 + North face Everest + N face of Jannu

Ueli Steck: Excalibur, Eiger speed record (and many others)

Hansjörg Auer: free solo Attraverso il Pesce in Marmolada

Profit: 3 north faces in 24hrs

Hubers: Brandler Hass solo + 8b at altitude



johnr2 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Erik B: Please not this thread aplies to Alpinsim and Mountaineering OUT of the UK.
In reply to johnr2: OK lets looks at your list:

-West face of K2 + North face Everest + N face of Jannu - Huge siege ascents involving loads of time and big teams. Very impressive but not something the Brits have been into for a long time.

Ueli Steck: Excalibur, Eiger speed record (and many others)
Hansjörg Auer: free solo Attraverso il Pesce in Marmolada
Profit: 3 north faces in 24hrs
Hubers: Brandler Hass solo + 8b at altitude

All incredible bits of climbing- however, most are 'redpoints' of one kind or another in the loosest sense of the word. Particularly if based on this small insignificant island the preparation involved is a little impractical.

What 'british' alpinism seems to be good at is oddly enough extending what we do here to medium scale alpine challenges- i.e. small teams rocking up at the bottom and having a go. Recent examples of many:

Greenland Tasermiut Fjord
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1216

Keder Dome
http://www.planetmountain.com/News/shownews.lasso?keyid=35320&l=2

Moose Loose Alaska
http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/older.html?month=05&year=2008#n44235

The 'numbers' may be less impressive and headline grabbing but who cares!
 Al Evans 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2: John you are so seriously out of touch, others will tell you better than I can.
 grumsta 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

Bit of a trollish thread title imo.
 Monk 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:


I don't know what your criteria are but the selectors for the Piolet D'Or clearly don't agree with you as Brits are often fouind in the short list, for example in 2007 Ian Parnell and Tim Emmett were nominated for climbing the Southeast Pillar of Kedarnath Dome, while Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden won it in 2003. I think quite a lot goes on.

 Erik B 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2: the title doesnt imply that at all, it says British Alpinism/MOUNTAINEERING is dead, so i have commented on that
 smithaldo 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

Building on vscott's earlier response, They are indeed amzingly good bits of climbing but are very much media grabbing routes, maybe done to maximise sponsorship in some way.

ueli steck has a full time team of nutrionists, sports scientists etc etc at a uni in switzerland behind him and is obsessed with his power/weight stuff (info given from a guy who knows him). Cant imagine many brits needing that sort of thing! A stiff upper lip will get you much further.

If you used to look at the alpinist website or read the mag rather than ukclimbing you would know that there is loads and loads that brits are doing that is much more in the spirit of adventure and alpinism in general.
Vip1r 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:
> 'Cartwright/Cross N/W Ridge of Ama Dablam, 2001 ??'
>
> Great new route, great guys. But could it be placed in the list above?

Yes it can; i knew Jules well (Rest in peace my friend) and it took them alot of effort and even Jules himself was surprised at how they did it, even though he was very talented as is Rich (though he wouldn't admit that in public!).
Vip1r 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

Is it heck...i won't go on and repeat routes that others have already mentioned, but there is a bunch of Brit guys (we all know who they are) gettig out there and getting new stuff, unrepeated stuff, stuff climbed in a "better" style with no aid etc.

Let's be proud of them- that the Brits are doing stuff without themselves making alot of fuss about it, eh?
 Tom G 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

Erm... what about Alan Hinkes? 14 8000ers?
 Hardonicus 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Tom G: He hasn't done them all yet has he ;)
 Frank4short 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Tom G: well other than the fact it's fairly contentious that he actually did all of them (Cho Oyu i think?). Other than that fact if you accept that he has done all of them he would still have been the 14th/15th person to complete them all. No doubt it's an acheivement but not by any stretch of the imagination cutting edge.
In reply to Tom G:

I agree with Frank4. No disrespect to Alan who is a good climber and a nice guy but doing the 8000ers really shouldn't be mentioned in climbing news on the same pages as what Robertson, Bullock, Benson, Parnell et al are doing. Odd you mention the 8000ers as his main achievement: I think the route he initially became well known for, the new one on Menlungste with Andy Fanshawe; is far more significant, just of less interest to those who still think that mountaineering is about union jacks, beards and Mt Everest.
Vip1r 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Tom G:
> (In reply to johnr2)
>
> Erm... what about Alan Hinkes? 14 8000ers?

and leaving his radio kit that Berghaus paid for on top of the last one he did as he couldn't be assed carrying it down? Flys in the face of leaving the hills as untouched as we can, eh?

 Mark Bull 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Vip1r:

That's a bit unfair isn't it? How many 8000m expeditions leave nothing on the mountain (ropes, tents, O2 bottles etc.)?
 GrahamD 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Vip1r:
> (In reply to johnr2)(we all know who they are) gettig out there and getting new stuff ...

Clearly we DON'T all know - hence the thread.

Vip1r 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Mark Bull: This is true and it's a fair point. I wanted to dump stuff when i was on Pumori, but i just wouldn't have been able to have it on my conscience...and that's the closest i come to being a hippy! ;o)
Vip1r 29 Jan 2009
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Vip1r)
> [...]
>
> Clearly we DON'T all know - hence the thread.

It's quite well reported on variuos websites/blogs and here. But the contenders are Parnell, Cool, Helliker, Bullock, Bracey etc. Check outsome manufacturers websites etc.
 Frank4short 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Mark Bull:

> That's a bit unfair isn't it? How many 8000m expeditions leave nothing on the mountain (ropes, tents, O2 bottles etc.)?

It's a poor excuse for being a lazy polluting shit. Oh look that kid left dumped hsi rubbish on the street so it's ok for me to do it too.
 Gawyllie 29 Jan 2009
In reply to Frank4short: yeah, just because its seems to be the norm to dump things on high mountains dosnt make it right
almost sane 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

Your title and comments make an implication: Alpinism is only alive and well when people are up there with the world's best, and doing things that haven't been done before, in an extraordinary manner.

I disagree with this implication.

For me, mountaineering and Alpinism is about enjoying the place; enjoying the movement across snow, rock and ground; perhaps pushing personal limits, but perhaps not; good journeys with good friends, or making new friends as you go. It is as much an aesthetic experience as an athletic one.

You also make another implication: that only foreign routes can count as great mountaineering or Alpine routes.
I disagree with this, too. Although some countries do offer a scale of challenge that is impossible in the UK.
AlpineStyleNews.blogspot.com 29 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:

Mick Fowler is top 5 all time in THE WORLD OF MODERN ALPNISM and hard accents in pure alpine style. Guys like Babanov are up there with his Janu and 8000m x 2 alpine style new routes. But the russian big wall project is a different game. Think of House, Moro, and Humar? Lots of good guys or the Benegas....

The we have the Cave Fowler etc and the Changabang epic

Parell with friends

The Amadablam rout was cool

As some one said Parkin in Patagonia and the Alps. Who knows when is back on the hill?

Andy K psycho vertical...


Steck is a sport climber of the alps but with less luck in the Himalayas but NEVER forget his efforts this last spring on Ana South face. TRUE HERO. To train for a route is like a red point of a 8c just adding risk of the big hill. Cool but a game of its own.




AlpineStyleNews.blogspot.com 29 Jan 2009
In reply to AlpineStyleNews.blogspot.com:


Forgot Twid Turner an alpine version of Xavier Bongard a true hard core man who get no attention but do big things.
 frost 30 Jan 2009
In reply to AlpineStyleNews.blogspot.com:
fact. there are no british alpinists operating at the level of Steve House.
 Fergal 30 Jan 2009
In reply to AlpineStyleNews.blogspot.com:

guffaw Andy K the mr Bean of Alpinism.
 Tom Hutton 30 Jan 2009
In reply to vscott:

I'd add this one too - solo...

http://www.thebmc.co.uk/News.aspx?id=2858
 victorclimber 30 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2: could be that the majority now are on climbing walls and bouldering,its nice and safe you see...
 Nigel Modern 30 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2: Isn't it more that mountaineering doesn't grab the public psyche like (in the same way) it did in the 70s? Chris Bonington, Dougal Haston, Doug Scott are heroes to many who never climbed a mountain in their lives...and the pioneers of trad technical rock...the Old Man of Hoy etc Prime time TV.

These people had/have massive world profiles and perhaps you are comparing brits' current achievements are subliminally to this. How can they compete with this?

Time it was and what a time it was!

Just guessing...
 Null 31 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:
> I lament the days when the Brits were up there with the worlds best.
> We just don't seem to do anything 'cutting edge' anymore.

I always assumed that this is simply because mountaineering on the continent was rather tired and dowdy and not very popular after the war. The UK (and the USA) did a lot to reinvent the sport helping to induce a whole new attitude among other Europeans. Think of the Nuova Mattina movement in Italy in the 1980s, for example, and the sudden emergence of the amazing French stars in the same period. Over time Europeans took advantage of having real mountains to climb right outside the door, and a proper climate, and caught up with and then overtook the Brits.
Isn't that what happened with football as well?
I remember when I started going to Chamonix we were amazed to find that free climbing was almost unknown among the very few climbing locals. Ten years later they were swarming all over the place doing things that we couldn't manage.
 ice.solo 31 Jan 2009
In reply to johnr2:
i think hes got a point - but i dont think its anything worry about. british climbing isnt of course dead, its just in one of its more low key phases like the early sixties when the media was excited about a certain angle that the brits didnt fit so much.
its all still going on - loads of examples - its the media strategy thats creating the gap. take a look at the big names splashed across the guys doing this stuff - patagonia, mammut, black diamond, millet, the north face etc - its all american and european high corporate stuff with big industry involvement in selling the 'extreme' caption. stuff the british climbing industry doesnt always align with.
brits do stuff just as noteworthy - but theres less invested interests to broadcast it.

really tho, spare a thoughts for the koreans and japanese. theyre doing worldclass routes on mountains none of us have ever heard of and because its not reported in a eurocentric language no one knows.
every japanese climber knows the name of dozens of western climbers, but can any of us name a single japanese climber. look at most ascent histories and many important ascents (and many firsts) are japanese or korean - a western climber with the same resume would be a hero.

its the climbing machine that makes it look like brits are out of the league by focussing on maintaining high profile guys like house, humar, steck etc whose names are synonymous with certain high profile (and high budget) events that will get everyone wanting the latest patagonia softshell.
britain in the 60s and 70s had a similar thing going (on a time-relative scale) with the godfathers like brown, scott, bonnington etc - many who were involved in high profile (for its day) climbing industry activities. when the marketing shifted, so did the names. says nothing about the acheivements.

i say dont worry - brits are doing fine - as they always have, dragging themselves up endless rock, ice and snow. its just that ME, berghaus and karrimor have different agendas to grivel, petzl and MHW.
In reply to Gavin Taylor:
> (In reply to johnr2)
> [...]
>
> I always assumed that this is simply because mountaineering on the continent was rather tired and dowdy and not very popular after the war. The UK (and the USA) did a lot to reinvent the sport helping to induce a whole new attitude among other Europeans. Think of the Nuova Mattina movement in Italy in the 1980s, for example, and the sudden emergence of the amazing French stars in the same period.

Making use of the notes for an article I was asked to write for the Alpinist website (but didn't make it before Alpinist closure)

The Nuovo Mattino had a serious and very much defined British initial link, as the whole really thing began by the chance meeting between Mike Kosterlitz and the "founding fathers" of Nuovo Mattino - Giampiero Motti and Giancarlo Grassi (and, to a lesser extent, Ugo Manera)

In 1972, Mike was a student in Torino, at the Polytechnic School. Legend says that one day he dropped in the CAI headquarter in Torino (in Via Monte di Pietà) saying that he was looking for some climbing partner. He was immediately forwarded to Giampiero, who - by chance - was one of the few climber in Turin speaking fluent English.

At the time Giampiero Motti was a young instructor at the Gervasutti climbing school (a prestigious institution, but really a "temple" of tradition), and has already a string of important repeats in the Alps, including the first ever solo of the Gervasutti pillar at the Tacul. He came from a well to do family, and was nicknamed "the Prince" because of his extremely good manners, his elegant climbing style, and his interest on oriental philosophies. He was also quite bored and disappointed with the state of Italian climbing, which was very much stuck into a huge post-Bonatti hangover, whose "values" were still those of the 30's - the nationalism, the heroism at all costs, etc. Giampiero had also a complex personality - he was very popular with girls and friends, and extremely intelligent and articulate, but was also haunted by personal issues, who in the end, led to his downfall year later.

Speaking English, he had already dived into the extensive collection of British and American climbing literature available at the CAI National Library (in Turin), had had become interested (in fact, a bit obsessed) by the writings of people like Doug Robinson ("“The Climber as Visionary") and generally the type of stuff that was published at the time on "Ascent" and "Mountain". He became convinced that the limits more or less self imposed by the traditional European climbing ethics were all but killing climbing as a creative activity, and that the future was in the Yosemite and British scene. Looking for some place where to replicate that kind of climbing, he had come to find the Orco valley (near Turin) and the immense wall of Balma Fiorant, which he had re-christened "El Caporal" (the reference to the Capitan is obvious). He had already opened (with Grassi and Manera) one route there, but there was something obviously missing.

The '72 meeting between Giampiero and Giancarlo with Kosterlitz had enormous implications. Mike was a relatively taciturn person, and not much inclined to brag, but it was obvious he had already climbed a lot of big Alpine classics. Moreover, he wasn't making such a big deal of all this (quite the reverse of the typical attitude of the time), and he had the potential to teach a lot to local climbers.

This is how Giancarlo Grassi described Kosterlitz (I'm taking this from Maurizio Oviglia's "Rock Paradise"): "The meeting with Kosterlitz was for me the turning point, the embryo from where it grew a change in my view of the meaning of climbing. Mike was bringing with him, and his climbs a pleasant sport dimension, far from rhetoric-drenched, and devoid of any cliché. He did much to desecrate a lot of our views of the "extremely difficult", but he was aware of his own limits. To see him climbing was a free demonstration that a technical evolution was still possible. He was an exceptional climber, but most important, he was a climbing in a way that was different..."

Motti enlisted Kosterlit (and Manera) for another to the Orco Valley at the Torre di Aimonin (near the Caporal), and the result was "Pesce D'Aprile" (April's Fool), the first route in the Italian Alps entirely opened with nuts. Nineteen days later, on the Caporal wall, Motti returned this time with Kosterlitz and Grassi and the result was the "Sole Nascente" line, the first masterpiece of this "new" European climbing, and the symbol of the Nuovo Mattino. EVERYTHING that happened later in Continental Europe - sport climbing, "free" climbing, climbing competitions, it comes from that event.

It's worthy of note that this "British link" was to resurface again later in the most diverse manner. For instance, by some kind of portentous chance, Ugo Manera happened to be the first person to meet Joe Tasker and Pete Boardman on their way down from Changabang (Manera was with the Italian expedition that Boardman mention in "Shining Mountain". BTW, he made the fifth ascent Changabang via the South Ridge in 1981). And for several years Giancarlo Grassi went to Scotland, together with Renato Casarotto and Gianni Comino, and it's no secret that Giancarlo spent a lot of time trying to find places in the Alps where "real" Scottish winter conditions could be duplicated (in his view, on the the walls of the Albaron di Sea fitted this requisite).
 Null 01 Feb 2009
In reply to Luca Signorelli:
Thanks Luca - fascinating insight, as always.
 Dr Fran 02 Feb 2009
In reply to johnr2:
Hi Johnr2
Not quite sure why but Nick Bullock has chosen to dignify your "fair" question with a pretty extensive answer-
check out http://nickbullock.blogware.com/
enjoy your reading!
 fxceltic 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Dr Fran: fair play to mr bullock for showing johnr2 up for the huge aching trolls c0ck he appears to be in this thread.
In reply to Gavin Taylor:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli)
> Thanks Luca - fascinating insight, as always.

Glad you liked it. Unfortunately, it's full of typos - for instance, the last line must read "in his view, only the the walls of the Albaron di Sea fitted this requisite". Anyway, thanks!
 Jamie B 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

I am now very curious about the Albaron di Sea! Where is it and what is especially "Scottish" about it?
 newhey 02 Feb 2009
In reply to johnr2:
> Please re-read the list . I can asure you that none of these are party tricks:
>
> Russians: West face of K2 + North face Everest + N face of Jannu
>
> Ueli Steck: Excalibur, Eiger speed record (and many others)
>
> Hansjörg Auer: free solo Attraverso il Pesce in Marmolada
>
> Profit: 3 north faces in 24hrs
>
> Hubers: Brandler Hass solo + 8b at altitude

What have these folk ever done on grit though.
 billy.grant 03 Feb 2009
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: Luca refuses to give info for this valley. I've been granted the name of the village at the road-head but that's all!
In reply to billy.grant:
> (In reply to Jamie Bankhead) Luca refuses to give info for this valley. I've been granted the name of the village at the road-head but that's all!

This way you make it sound like a military sensitive target! ;)

Albaron di Sea is a 3200m mountain in the Southern Graians, locate halfway through a very remote and wild area called Sea Valley. It has a (rocky) north face that's almost 1000m high. Here's what I've posted in a previous thread

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=308807&v=1#x4570529

Scroll down to see the relevant post.
 The brainn 04 Feb 2009
In reply to johnr2: It's bloody expensive can hardly afford bus fares to Lochnagar nevermind the Alps or Greater ranges.

Send me the fare and I'll give the Eiger a solo and while your at it return fares to Grand J and I'll give the Alex Mac route a solo too all in one season put up or shut up!!!!!!
Mr X 05 Feb 2009
In reply to johnr2:
Good call!
With technological advances and the vast amount of knowledge at our disposal you would think that many of us could walk into an 8000er solo for example and put up a 'good account' of themselves.
There still are many 'putting up' great technical lines (homegrown and foreign) But i think that the Eastern Europeans excel because they are not so preoccupied with gear and the pseudo adventure which has 'blighted' the western outdoor scene.
Just go up Snowdon and take a look at the Trail readers negotiating the Pyg Track with technical axes,crampons,£1000 of clothes droning on and on about ill equipped walkers, when really they are the people out of place.
So called mountaineers get guided up Mont Blanc,Aonach Eagach etc,etc. just so they can say "I've done that"
It's not some much that 'Cutting Edge' has gone,more a case of it being obscured by a huge swathe of mediocre adventure.... :]

Humphry 08 Feb 2009
it's not very expensive to go to the Eiger and back (or the Jorasses). So if you have that level of skill, don't let a couple of hundred quid stop you.
 The brainn 08 Feb 2009
In reply to Humphry: I'll travel there this summer and see whats what. Liver, Cabbage and Onions stuff of champions.
jonathan_smoker 10 Feb 2009
I remember seeing this quote by Ed Douglas (who I -guess- knows a lot about the subject) a few years ago in http://www.k2news.com/douglas.htm

"A.) Possibly. In my experience, most nations overestimate the ability of their athletes and climbing is no exception. There are plenty of Brits who still think we're top nation when we haven't been, with a few exceptions, since the nineteenth century. I think it's also true of some Americans, who have a cultural reflex on meeting Russians that whatever they do will be inferior. The truth is that there are few American mountaineers who can hold a candle to the best of the Russians at high altitude. It's a different story elsewhere, plenty of fine American alpinists and rock climbers. Maybe Viesturs, Pete Athans, Roskelley in his prime, a few others. But Boukreev really did go well. (I'm sure it's got something to do with an impoverished background. Most western climbers are just too decadent.)"


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