Christmas Book Choices from UKC Staff Review

Christmas is just around the corner, and it's the perfect time of year to settle in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a good book. We've had the opportunity to read and review a lot of printed material this year, and here is our pick of some of our UKC staff favourites!

Something a bit different:

Betamonkeys, 159 kb
The Beta Monkeys Cartoon book 'The evolution of falling' landed on my desk around 2 weeks ago, and I read it straight away in a single sitting.

This collection of climbing cartoons by Ed O'Grady is a great insight in to the mind of a climber, it is funny, witty and insightful, and Ed has really nailed it in pinning down just what climbing is, or isn't for a great many of us. Focused primarily on bouldering, and often on indoor bouldering, I guess that this reflects Ed's own experience of climbing. I would have loved to se a bit more trad and outdoor climbing ridiculed, and perhaps he can do this in his next edition - which I am already looking forward to!

It's 56 pages long, full colour and worth every penny of the bargain £10 price tag. If you're looking for a bit of a fun gift for Christmas for the boulderer in your life, then you can place this nifty little tome at the top of your list.

More info and buy it here:

UK guidebooks:

Lake District Climbs and Scrambles combines the best scrambles and easy climbs in the Lake District with great walking loops to give twenty superb 'mountaineering' days out on the Cumbrian fells.

Each route runs from valley floor to mountain top, with the ascent – and often descent – made via a classic scramble or climb. Scrambles at grades 1 to 3+ tackle ghylls, ridges and crags, with Lake District classics such as Jack's Rake and Sharp Edge sitting alongside lesser-known gems like Sourmilk Gill and Crenation Ridge. Climbs up to Severe include some of the best-loved easy routes in the Lake District, like C Ordinary and Corvus. And while walking to and from the climbs and scrambles you'll explore valleys like Wasdale and Deepdale, and reach the high tops of Scafell and Blencathra.

Researched and written by local author and mountaineer Stephen Goodwin, the routes feature Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps, photo topos and easy-to-follow directions, along with route profiles and local information. Also included is a detailed appendix, to ensure that you have a fun and successful day out.

A bloody bargain at £16.95 and we love Steve Goodwin - legend! See our interview with him about the book here

Clwyd Limestone Rockfax Cover, 150 kb
The recent Clwyd Limestone Rockfax is now published in print and available for next day delivery or instant download on the all new fancy Rockfax App.

This book updates and expands the 2005 Clwyd Limestone Rockfax with all the new routes plus six new crags. It has 264 pages (104 more than the previous edition) and is presented in Rockfax's new big photo topo format.

Rockfax App Logo, 7 kbIf you can't wait for one to be posted out then the full guidebook is now available on the App for £22.99. Just make sure you have updated to the latest version 1.1 (update here) and 'Clwyd Limestone' will appear in the downloads list.

Bolt Fund - Rockfax are pleased to announce that they will be making a £1 contribution from all the initial 1000 sales of this guidebook to the Gary Gibson Bolt Fund. After the initial 1000 sales, they will revert to their standard £1 donation for each sale made direct from the Rockfax web site. As an aside, Rockfax donations to bolt funds so far this year have been £2129.

Get your copy here: ROCKFAX WEBSITE

Lake District Rock Cover, 95 kb
The new edition of Lake District Rock, covering the best that Lakeland has to offer the climber came out this summer and it looks great.

This publication replaces the best-selling 2003 guide as the guide of choice for visiting climbers. Jointly published with WIRED guides – a collaboration of not-for-profit publishers including the FRCC, BMC, SMC, CC and YMC – this guide is the first of an exciting new series that will cover the whole of Britain.

Editor Steve Scott and a dedicated team of enthusiastic local climbers have worked for several years to produce the material for this fantastic guidebook. The Inspirational cover photo of Cruel Sister on Pavey Ark was taken by David Simmonite

Lake District Rock contains over 1500 climbs on 100 crags and features clear maps, crisp photo-diagram coverage for every crag and sensational images. All the Lake District regions are included. The FRCC also publish a series of definitive climbing guides to all these areas.

You can order the guide from the FRCC website.

Photography book

Alpine Exposures, 181 kb
Jon Griffith's Alpine Exposures may have just snuck out before last Christmas, but it was a close-run thing, so we've squeezed it in here again, and why not - with stunning photos from across the Alps juxtaposed with epic stories of extreme Alpinism, Jon's work will literally blow you away like an Alpine storm.

"The Alpine Exposures Photo book is a coffee table book that showcases Jon Griffith's work over the last ten years in the mountain sports industry. True to Jon's work ethic the book only shows photos taken in real situations in order to offer readers an in-depth experience of the world of extreme mountain sports. Featuring shots from around the European Alps from the Eiger North Face to Mont Blanc, there are detailed captions accompanying every shot- there is a real focus here on inspirational photography not just eye candy."

Buy it on Jon's fantastic NEW Website

Coffee table goodness

9th Grade, 86 kb

The 9th Grade published by Les Editions Mont Blanc is a very comprehensive look at the history of sport climbing. It's a real tome, and is wide-reaching and has clearly been a significant amount of work! It blows a lot of the other books out of the water this year for sheer scope of coverage.

It's very French, and the translation is in parts a little clunky, but actually after a while this gave the book a little character.

The prose is quite flowery, and when the book covered some UK stuff I could tell that the knowledge of the author was not quite razor sharp, but in general he got the facts right enough. It did give me confidence that the book had been well researched.

For an example of the flowery wording here's the blurb from the publisher!

"There is something deeply primitive in mankind that fires the urge to explore, to search for the unknown whether it is beyond an horizon, over an ocean or, maybe, up a mountain. This desire, which includes rock faces, was possibly driven out of the necessity to search for food or minerals but, as modern society changed, so did the motive and-rock climbing came into being as a recreation using just body-strength and willpower.

This shift to a sport-like activity emerged towards the end of the 19th Century when those who would have been considered 'crazy people' risked life and limb on the seemingly worthless and futile pursuit of what we know as free-climbing be it on small boulders, outcrops and even great vertical mountain faces.

This book reflects on those women and men, famous or forgotten, whose lives have been possessed by their passion for the rock."

Climbing fiction

After The Crash, 52 kb

David Pickford's After the Crash and other stories is a collection of nine short stories that will take you from The Door to the River to the wildest reaches of the Sahara In Jahannam's Lair; on board Twenty Red Twenty, the first manned mission to Mars, and into the labyrinth of Cain and Abel's psycho-drama in The End of the Past.

Five of the stories compose a series of vividly descriptive episodes of mountain literature, where the perilous conditions of the adventurous life are explored and questioned, extreme skiers are tested to the limit, an alpinist suddenly finds himself marooned high in the Himalaya after a plane crash, the border between myth and reality is blurred during a long solo climb, and a tragic mystery is solved by a lone climber who reassembles the lost pieces of The Map of Thunder Canyon. The remaining four stories range from the visionary dreams of a child to the ideology of a Waziri jihadist. Controversial, poetic, melancholy, original and thought provoking, each story is revealed in just enough detail to let your imagination conceive what might happen next.

A couple more titles

Alone on the Wall Front Cover, 128 kb

Alex Honnold - Alone on the Wall. We covered this in a stand alone review earlier in the year - here's an excerpt:

It's a great book, half written by Roberts, who offers commentary on Alex's exploits and life, and half of the passages (the ones in italic) written by Alex himself.

Roberts notes in his acknowledgements "Alex is a good writer - good enough, as I told him in the early spring of 2014, that he could have written this book by himself".

Whilst Roberts' commentary is what holds the book together, and I for one am glad that he was involved in this project, it is the glimpses in to Alex's mind that are the most fascinating aspect of this book, a book which is way more than just a collection of hand-sweating stories of near-death free soloing.

Alex talks candidly about his life on the road, his relationships, his break-ups and his actual thoughts on the media show that is the modern Alex Honnold.

Catherine Destivelle - Rock Queen has been translated in to English and published by Hafloft.

Rock queen, 90 kb
It's a £12.99 paper back and the cover looks decidedly 'old-school'. But for those who know of Catheine, and who doesn't?! then this book is well worth grabbing. Her writing has been well translated by Marguerite Wright, and what sets this apart from so many climbing biographies is not only the fact that Catherine really was a world leader in climbing, but that she writes so honestly about her thoughts and feelings when tackling some of the most dangerous feats of mountaineering of her time. - Get it, you won't be disappointed!

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