The White Cliff: Epic tales of life and death on the world's best sea cliff Gear News

© Atlantis Publishing

The White Cliff  © Atlantis Publishing
Celebrating climbing on Gogarth, Grant Farquhar has compiled text and images from over 100 climbers, many recounting early ascents and epics.

Hardback due out on 1 August 2018 A4 396 pages, full colour throughout. Available for pre-order from Cordee.

The White Cliff is a collection of writings about the best sea cliff in the world: Gogarth. This book has a historical narrative into which are embedded essays by various protagonists.

The book is not just about the place, though. The climbers who have been drawn to touch the stone of Gogarth have often been the best of their generation and have pioneered amazing routes elsewhere. The book is also about their personal stories of life and death. It details the history of the exploration of the cliff in the context of the time period, climbing standards and the development of equipment and techniques. In the process, it touches on a myriad of related issues.

The chapters are structured by area. Most of the essays and images are previously unpublished but some have appeared before in books, magazines, or journals.

Highlights include:

Joe Brown on Spider's Web: 'I laybacked around three little overlaps then got a good runner and went around the corner to start bringing Fred up. He took absolutely ages and was three times underwater, yet he must have been 50 or 60ft above sea level.'

Henry Barber soloing The Strand onsight: 'It was an incredible mental challenge for me, but I wouldn't do anything like it again because it was too close to death.'

Stevie Haston soloing Positron: 'At one point the bell on the silver chain around my ankle started to tinkle: I was shaking! I sorted it out, stopped the tinkling sound, cruised to the top and felt elated.'

Steve Andrews on the first ascent of Skinhead Moonstomp: 'The flake began to run out, but there was still a long way to the finger jugs. With mounting horror, I watched him hesitate.'

Paul Pritchard and Glenn Robbins on Games Climbers Play: 'The horrid notion flashed across my mind that the cams hadn't held and I braced myself for a longer fall. In the confusion I felt myself slow down imperceptibly and almost began to relax. Then I continued to accelerate again. Ten pieces of gear exploded from the rock.'

'All the gear ripped: PING! PING! PING! Accompanying each PING! of the ripping gear, an initial squeal intensified to a scream, finally sounding very much like a Japanese Zero shot down, and crashing into the sea, as Paul arced across my view and out of sight behind the pillar to which I was tied.'

Johnny Dawes and Craig Smith on the first ascent of Conan the Librarian: 'I had no idea how good the gear was, I concluded 'not very' if the 'rock' it was being placed in was anything to go by. John's tongue now jutted out from his mouth. This was a sure sign that things were getting serious.'

'The next section of the route involved bridging between two big talc pillars. I made a few sorties up and down from my little sanctuary to clean some of the groove away and fix another Friend, and then it was time for action. There was one hold that I could trust, two that depended on each other, and one that was looser than Sam Fox's bra straps.'

Also starring:

John Redhead as the clown: 'The insidious sounds of a tuba echo behind the flake, mocking. An image of horsemen riding by moves across the rock, horribly disfigured and deformed by the contours of the rock's features. A clown appears and disappears, his painted face miming the words – Real, unreal, safe, unsafe.'

Dave Towse as the burning man: 'I think of other days on this wall, there had certainly been more than a few. But I am not free of this yet, is this my time? I search deep for one more moment of calmness and strength. JR has me back on belay; it's time to bail out. I carefully wrap the abseil rope around one arm and hand, as I cannot open a karabiner with my frozen cramped fingers. I let go of the rock.'

Jules Lines as the shallow man: 'I don't think actually soloing Demons was the trip. The trip came from gaining the psychological advantage over the water levels.'

Andy Pollitt as the hollow man: 'Harrowing as it was, I was comfy and 'in my element' on North Stack Wall and floated up it in no time at all, pretty easily from memory. A steep, familiar start then thin, crimpy and balancy climbing on sharp edges – all the way to 95ft facing a deck-out fall.'


Mike Owen as the bold bastard: 'A few months later, when I turned up for work at my school in Warrington one morning, I found a message engraved in my lab door. The message read: 'Mr Owen is a bold bastard.'It made me laugh out loud because they'd surely misspelled 'bald'? Then again, perhaps they'd heard about what I'd been up to on North Stack Wall.'

Other contributors include Richard McHardy, Peter Gillman, John Cleare, Pete Crew, Mick Fowler, Pat Littlejohn, Martin Crook, Adam Wainwright, Glenda Huxter, George Smith, Tom Livingstone, Ben Silvestre, Dave Pickford, Jack Geldard, Tim Emmett, James McHaffie, Emma Twyford, Alex Mason, Nick Bullock, Hazel Findlay, Neil Dickson, Andrew Walker and Crispin Waddy.

With excerpts from Arnis Strapcans's climbing diary.

Images by Ken Wilson, John Cleare, Leo Dickinson, Paul Williams, Ray Wood, Glenn Robbins, Andy Teasdale, Alan Leary, Jethro Kiernan, Alastair Lee and Mike Hutton.

The book is currently available for pre-order from Cordee and will be available from Aug 1st in climbing shops and to buy direct from Cordee for £35.

For more information Cordee

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Agreed, very exciting indeed - can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

31 Jul, 2018

I thought Dun Mingulay was the best sea cliff in the world?! This book does sound quite good though.

31 Jul, 2018

Sounds excellent. Will buy lots and seal them all in airtight bags.  I'll then sneak into wherever I need to sneak into and destroy all the things needed to print it again. Though I fear modern technology will prevent another Extreme Rock happening...    

31 Jul, 2018

If you are allowed to count the whole of Gogarth as one sea cliff, then you should certainly be able to count almost all the climbing on Pabbay as one sea cliff and that probably beats Dun Mingulay :-)


Just to say that this has just come into stock and looks absolutely superb, with the amount of work required to bring it all together unbelievable - congratulations Mr Farquhar!

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