/ guidebook "star system"

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Alan Rubin - on 22 Jun 2012
I'm following up on a thread on the US Supertopo forum. The question was when was the "star system" for route quality first used in guidebooks. In the US it apparently was first used in two books published in 1980 (Rocky Heights by Jim Ericson and Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks by Randy Vogel). In his introduction Ericson specifically says that he "borrowed" the system from British guidebooks. In my limited collection of UK books, the earliest use of the system that I can find is in Ron James' Rock Climbing in Wales published in 1969. In his introduction James says that he is "introducing" the system to help infrequent visitors choose the best routes, which language implies that this was a new system. Does anyone on here know if this was indeed the first use of a star system in the UK to indicate route quality (for better or worse is another issue!!!)or, if not, can let me know which book(s) proceeded it? Was it used earlier in any books on the Continent or elsewhere? Minor trivia, I know, but still interesting to some of us.
a lakeland climber on 22 Jun 2012
In reply to Alan Rubin:

The FRCC guides used to have a recommended routes list which was a precursor to the star system. As to your question, dunno, but it's led to the neglect of many a fine route.

Gordon Stainforth - on 22 Jun 2012
In reply to Alan Rubin:

I think Ron James's 'Rock Climbing in Wales', publ. in 1970, was the first UK guide to use a star system.
Andy2 - on 22 Jun 2012
In reply to Alan Rubin: Cornwall Volume 1 (published 1968) used a star system.
Offwidth - on 22 Jun 2012
In reply to Alan Rubin: I thought the 1974 Kinder guide used a single stars to illustrate good routes. I'll check.
In reply to Alan Rubin:

"Borrowdale - A Climber's Guide" by Paul Ross and Michael Thompson published in 1966 used both stars and E grades for the first time in the Lake District. Stars were limited to a maximum of one per route. Not sure whether it was the first guide ever to use stars but Paul Ross posts on here sometimes as US Brit and he would be able to tell you where the idea came from.
Ron Kenyon - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Stephen Reid:

Ross's guide did not have stars or E-Gradings.

Ron James' guide had stars - the first FRCC guide with stars was the Eastern Crags and Buttermere guide in 1979.

E Gradings were (I believe) invented by Pete Botterill and first appeared in guides in 1978 with the FRCC Recent Developments (written by Dave Armstrong, Pete Botterill and Pete Whillance (what a team and what a record for the mid 1970's in the Lakes !)); the FRCC Borrowdale guide and Lake District North guide by Steve Clegg, Colin Read and Bob Wilson.
mike bailey - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Alan Rubin: Not a lot of people know this, but the earliest use of a star system was probably in the CC 1966 Carneddau guidebook written by Tony Moulam. It was a 3-star system. He referred to them not as stars but 'asterisks' though the symbols used looked like stars. They were not shown in the main text, but in the index of climbs at the back of the book, where Moulam wrote 'The asterisks (the number of which increases with merit) indicate the better climbs, irrespective of difficulty.'

And yes, I will try and get out more.
Offwidth - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Offwidth:

It was the '74 Kinder: a single star for good routes.

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