Guidebooks Galore - Ideas For Climbing Trips

Being mildly obsessed with climbing guides has it ups and downs. Whether or not to buy? Where to store? How to catalogue? Minor problems that need addressing on occasions. Once I started actually writing guides, the associated increase in my profile meant that on occasions the guides come to me. Over recent months I have received seven new guides from a variety of sources; covering such far-flung destinations as Arctic Norway, Central Spain and the Middle East. What follows are not in-depth reviews, I haven't used any of the guides 'in-the-field' yet; these jottings are more an idea of what is available. The choice is almost overwhelming.

It's good to see that all the guides have a 'modern' feel about them; loads of photo-topos, much use of colour, stacks of action shots. So what have we got?

Kvaløya Selected ClimbsNorway's star appears to be very much on the rise - years of neglect from outsiders due to rumours about poor weather, horrendously expensive living and lack of good information are slowly changing. These two guides should help redress the balance a bit.

Kvaløya Selected Climbs published by Kvaløya Archives - main editor Mårten Blixt (310 pages)

A guide to the climbing on the island of Kavløya just outside Tromsø in Arctic Norway. The guide covers the full gamut of trad/sport/bouldering/winter climbing in this superb remote feeling, but reasonably accessible area. The rock is high quality granite and the area has some particularly fine small 'big walls'. Although it might be considered a bit of a backwater, the recent free ascent of Arctandia (9-/9) indicates it might be nearer the cutting edge than most folks realise. The topos are mostly the hand-drawn variety but they are plenty clear enough and a 20+ page History/Player section makes a great read. The guide is in English throughout.

Klatrefører for TelemarkKlatrefører for Telemark by Ole Karsten Birkeland & Tom Atle Bordevik (226 pages)

The Telemark area of southern Norway is an area of rolling highlands and extensive forests and steep sided valleys, with a plethora of lakes, and plenty of outcropping rock. This is the first guide to the area, and like the Kvaløya guide it covers trad, sport and bouldering. The area is tucked in behind the Western mountains and is so much drier than the coastal areas; though the winters here are pretty harsh (Rjukan's ice is already well-known). The routes are mostly single pitch though there is some bigger stuff here and there are plenty of clip-ups available for sporty types. Combined with the recent Nissedal guide plus the one to the Sorland (south coast) area, this is one part of the world that deserves to become popular with anyone looking for easy accessible, high quality cragging; we had two weeks there last Whit and were well impressed!

Marmolada Parete SudThe Italian publishing company of Versante Sud continues to publish high quality guidebooks to major areas at quite a pace. The most recent pair of volumes covers two areas that should be of real interest to anyone wanting big Alpine rock routes.

Marmolada Parete Sud by Maurizio Giordani (287 pages)

A foreign guide to a single cliff, how strange? But what a cliff! The South Face of the Marmolada is a vast limestone wall with over 170 major outings up to 30 pitches long and with only a smattering of fixed gear on them. This a major venue for the hard core. The fact that a cable-car used to access the popular north face summer skiing sits right on top of the cliff is another major attraction. The book has plenty of action shots, a beautiful fold-out photo of the whole face, a topo for each route (well two actually, a photo-topo and a hand drawn version) plus an extensive history section. It will doubtless become an essential volume.

Solo GranitoSolo Granito by Mario Sertori & Guido Lisignoli (370 pages)

A chunky guide to the extensive granite cliffs and peaks in northern Italy/Southern Switzerland including the well-known area of the Val de Mello and the Bregalia plus the long range of montains that form the frontier. The guide doesn't cover the popular clip-ups on the lower cliffs such as the ever popular Sasso Remenno 'boulder' at Mello, as these are already listed in their 1999 Engadine guide; but it does include heaps of longer routes on both the valley wall and the surrounding peaks. The inclusion of the Piz Badile and associated cirque of peaks will guarantee the books popularity, all the extra stuff in there is a real bonus! Many of the action photos are mouth-watering, I can almost feel those granite crystals nipping my fingertips.

Escalada en MontanejosEscalada en Montanejos by Ernest Lopez 400 pages

And now for something completely different. The extensive climbing in the Montanejos area (100 km NW of Valencia) has long been known by climbers, though in recent years it has rather fallen off the radar, at least in part to it not having a decent up-to-date guide. The author runs the local climbers' refuge, has written this and earlier guides to the area and has put up over a thousand routes in the area, apologises for this state of affairs. He also apologises for the last guide which he published with stacks of blank pages in a protest to the local council not funding his bolting!

Anyway, all is well now down the canyons of the Maimona and the Mijares again. Have no doubt, this book is a MAJOR work and will have climbers flocking into the area. Whatever you fancy (as long as its sport climbing of course- this is Spain), single or multi-pitch, slabby of steep, sunny or shady, accessible or remote, easy or desperate, it's all here; 1700 pitches to go at. Ernest even reckons to have tempered the once ferocious grades the area was renowned for ? though I'll believe that when I have sample a few of the routes!

Rock Climbs AtlasFinally for something a little different ? Climbing in Macedonia, the Lebanon and Croatia ? Who would have thought it ? well we already knew about the last one. A two volume (with more to follow apparently) guide going under the overarching title of 'the Rock Climbing Atlas' ? Jingo Wobbly meets Rock and Road maybe. These are not guidebooks in the real sense in that they don't have a list of routes. Rather, they are guides to the climbing areas, and in that respect the work really well ? info on how to get there, where to stay, eat, shop and of course buy the appropriate guidebook. The pen-portraits of each venue work really well, there are stacks of maps and a good seletion of inspiring action shots. There are so many cliffs in them that I have never heard off. The choice is both superb and yet daunting. I initially wondered why they have started their coverage with these unknown areas rather than Western Europe, but I guess that is the whole point. Suddenly the Costa Blanca and Sardinia look rather passé ? where shall we go next?

Rock Climbs Atlas - South Eastern Europe by Wynand Groenewegen & Marloes Van den Berg (319 pages)

This volume covers Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia

Rock Climbing Atlas - Greece & the Middle EastWynand Groenewegen & Marloes Van den Berg (280 pages)

And this one covers Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.