A Feeling for Rock, by Sarah-Jane Dobner Gear News

© Sarah-Jane Dobner

A Feeling for Rock is a visceral exploration of rock climbing as a passion and lifestyle. Through a mix of poetry, cartoons, essays, interviews, weavings, photographs and technical tips, it conveys the experience of being bamboozled by a route, connecting with the landscape or flicking through a guidebook. In addition, the book ventures into ethical regions of gender bias and privilege and questions our relations with each other and the rock. Chapters are headed by different feelings - Love, Curiosity, Astonishment, Pain, Lust, Fear, Wonder and so on - which lie at the core of a climbing life.

Do we function by these hierarchies - E5 over VS, summit over foothills, grades over enjoyment, human over non-human (we can drill the cliff, it doesn't have any feelings)? After 20 years on the rock, Sarah-Jane Dobner reflects on the joy, awe, comedy, pride, fear, surprise, tenderness and geekery of life as a climber.

Reviews of A Feeling for Rock

Lynn Robinson, BMC President:

"This fresh, eclectic mix of utility and art illustrates why we climb - alongside the how, where and what."

Natalie Berry, UKClimbing Editor in Chief:
"Sarah-Jane deftly explores the smorgasbord of emotions that rock, climbing and rock climbing culture have roused in her...As ever, SJ rocks the boat and tackles gender issues head-on; subverting the dominant discourse of men and mountains and instead putting sex, sensuality and emotion on the menu, through this highly immersive collection of prose, poetry and essays."

A Feeling for Rock is a diverse collection comprising new work alongside a selection of Sarah-Jane's writings published over the past decade. Topics include sensuality, injury, community, ethics, landscape and language. There are verbatim interviews with a handful of committed devotees - including Johnny Dawes, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and Jesse Dufton - alongside beginners experiencing their first day on plastic.

Featuring 'emotion' chapter headings and ending with a light-hearted glossary, A Feeling for Rock is perfect for both dipping into or a more immersive read. Being full of pictures and soft to the touch, it is also rather a beautiful item to hold in your hands.

To order a copy visit

For updates and further information follow @afeelingforrock on Instagram or Facebook

Sarah-Jane Dobner, the author:

"Rock climbing has shaped my body, my bookshelves, my home, my holidays, the clothes I wear, the vehicle I drive, how I spend my money and what happens when I die. I am a product of the rock. The dynamic is visceral, spiritual, intellectual and emotional – no area untouched by this curious hobby."

For more information A Feeling For Rock

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