Bar Room Mountaineers: The History of Climbing Songs

Report by Sarah Stirling for

Dennis Gray and his latest CD, The Bar Room Mountaineers.©
Something different! Dennis Gray and Paul Cherry are reviving the tradition of climbing songs and reckon they can get you singing along to classics.

7.30pm March 24th Alpine Club, London (free)
7.30pm March 28th Flux Gallery, Leeds (£5 including wine and snacks)

A singsong and knees-up is traditionally an integral part of the British climbing scene, and there's no-one better to tell tales about that scene than Dennis Gray. He's shared ropes with the likes of Don Whillans, Joe Brown and Tom Patey, was the first General Secretary of the BMC and has written six books about climbing (four autobiographies, a novel and a poetry anthology).

“Singing and writing songs about climbing started in the Victorian times and only recently died down,” says Dennis. "In the 60s and 70s we'd always have a singsong in the pub after climbing. Eeryone knew all the traditional songs.”

While Dennis provides the history and tale-telling, the other Bar Room Mountaineer, Paul Cherry, provides the contemporary element. He's a ski-mountaineer-singer-songwriter-acoustic-guitarist with his own recording studio.

Sounds interesting? The performance will kick off with tales and songs from the 1900s, starting with Geoffrey Winthrop Young's famous Pen-y-pass parties, and move forward to the 50s and 60s when there was a strong tradition of singing and song-writing amongst climbing clubs such as the Creagh Dhu, The Bradford Lads and the Mynydd Club.

Bar Room Mountaineers Event Flyers, 107 kb

The most famous climbing singer-songwriter is, of course, Tom Patey. Dennis and Paul will be playing excerpts of his witty classics like 'Onward Christian Bonington' and 'The Legend of Joe Brown', which they've remastered from 1960s cassettes.

The Bar Room Mountaineers will also perform Paul's contemporary song, 'Through Heaven's Door,' about a young woman climber suffering from hypothermia.

“When we performed at Outside in Hathersage the evening went down a storm!” says Dennis.

For booking information:
The Alpine Club at
Flux Gallery at

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