Friday, 24 February 2017

Walter Parry Haskett-Smith: To Napes Needle and Beyond

Napes Needle: a rare photo of Haskett Smith posing half way up, taken in 1890 by Edmund, his younger brother. It was found in a box in an attic in Sydney, Australia in the personal effects of Rusty Westmorland.

Haskett-Smith, Haskett-Smith
Alone he slew the Monolith.

There can be no doubt that Haskett Smith slew the monolith in July 1886, which may have been the major event that was instrumental in turning rock climbing, from a training ground for those aspiring Alpinists who were affluent enough to be able to afford to visit the Alps regularly, so they could be led up mountains by local guides, into what it is widely accepted as today – a sport in its own right in all its current formats and approaches.

History tells us, that Haskett Smith made his first visit to Wasdale at the end of July, 1881, when he fell in love with the place immediately, making it his regular haunt for the rest of his life.

On his initial visit he stayed with Tom and Annie Tyson at Row Farm guesthouse, but all other visits were spent at the Wastdale Head Inn run by Dan Tyson, (no relation to Tom and Annie).

Much has been said about his meeting with Frederick H. Bowring, (then aged 58 – Haskett Smith being 22) but nothing as to why they became very close companions. Similarly, his relationship with Maurice Byles has never been explore, given that it was immediately after Byles’s death in 1921 that Haskett Smith’s behaviour and attitude changed. He no longer cared about his appearance, allowed his health to deteriorate, neglected Trowswell, the family estate he was guardian of, to such an extent that it was demolished in the 1930’s for being in a dilapidated state. It is also interesting to note, that it was from this time that his interest in actual rock climbing all but ceased along with his travels to Europe, which he used to do several times every year with Byles.

Eric Greenwood, Haskett Smith, H. Scott Tucker, Gerald West, AN Other,J. Robson, G. Craig, George Seatree and William Brigg.

What has to be remembered, is that Haskett Smith [not his real surname – it being plain Smith], came from a wealthy upper class family, who like most families of that era, had ‘skeletons in the cupboard’ – twin sisters (the Smith families first born children in 1854), one of who was placed in a Mental Institution at 13 and never appeared on any family census sheets or even in the family records; Algernon the first born son was a  practicing homosexual, who got involved with members of high society including royalty and nobility whilst attending the notorious known homosexual brothel run by a Charles Hammond, at 19 Cleveland Street, just off Tottenham Court Road in London. Before the scandal broke in July 1889, (which precipitated Prince Albert, Duke of Clarence, being sent on a seven-month tour of British India in Sept 1889 in order to avoid the press and subsequent trials), Algernon ‘accidentally’ shot himself in the head whilst cleaning his 12 bore shotgun, prior to going on a hunting trip to Scotland in 1887. Rumours at that time suggested that his death may not have been an accident or even suicide.

Fellow barrister, Montague John Druitt, was a friend of Algernon’s, another well-known visitor to 19 Cleveland Street, and who also died by drowning in the River Thames under strange and unexplained circumstances in December 1888, a year after Algernon’s death. It was from this time, that Druitt became a one-time suspect for being ‘Jack the Ripper’!

Haskett Smith was interviewed by Scotland Yard in January 1889, regarding what he knew of Druitt’s personal life, for no other reason than (a) Druitt’s association with his older brother Algernon, and (b) both Haskett Smith and Druitt, whilst at different University Colleges at the same time, were members of the same Oxford University debating society, both were athletic and played sports,  both were called to the Bar in April 1885 – Haskett Smith on 23rd and Druitt on 29th, and both trained as barristers together. Just after qualifying as a barrister, Haskett Smith received a case in his docket at Lincoln’s Inn from a friend, to act as co-counsel with none other than Druitt. Haskett Smith was far from pleased with this and is known to have refused to take on the case. Indeed, as we now know, he never took on any cases as a barrister throughout his entire life.

FRCC Meet: Wastdale
Historically, writers state unequivocally that it was his solo ascent of the Needle, that opened the door to rock climbing being viewed as a sport in its own right, and as such, place great significance to the event. However, did he and his climbing colleagues of the time, see the same picture as those writers?

Given the accolade assigned to him, it is interesting to note, that his contemporaneous note in the Wasdale Hotel book relating to the climb, contained 5 lines which showed no sign of emotion or even achievement.

“A fine climb of the arête character may be found in Gable Napes. This arête is the right hand bank of the right hand of the two great gullies which are seen from the hotel and is marked by a peculiar pinnacle at the foot of it. The pinnacle may be recognised (till the next gale of wind) by a handkerchief tied to the top”.

Either he was being very modest, or, he did not view the climb as being anything significant. His next article in 1890 in the Pall Mall Budget titled ‘The Napes Needle’, contained 22 lines with a little more detail. But it was 28 years after the event that he actually wrote an article describing the climb in detail!
As the initial five-line hotel book article was undated, various dates from June 28th through to July 4th have been given for this historic solo ascent. However, as noted above, in 1914, he published in the Fell & Rock Climbing Club Journal, a more comprehensive account of the ascent and combined with some research, we can make certain assumptions as the most likely date of the ascent.

Research shows that on June 28th, he was with other climbers making the first ascent of South-East Gully on Great End, (originally known as Robinson’s Gully); on 29th June, he was with Charles Baumgartner, Frederick Bowring, Miss. M. Holderness and John W. Robinson, climbing Slab and Notch climb on Pillar Rock. As the 30th was a wet day, nothing much was done by anyone. On 1st July, along with Baumgartner, Bowring, and Miss Holderness, he climbed Broad Stand and descended via Deep Ghyll. 

On 2nd July, weather reports from the Meteorological Office records, show that it was a wet day again and as we know that he climbed the Needle on a day when it was hot, it cannot have been this day. According to Haskett Smith’s article in 1914, he had agreed to accompany a group of friends who were leaving the hotel and making for Gosforth, were they were to get transport to the nearest mainline train station. As their luggage was being taken to Gosforth by pony and trap, they decided to walk over the fells so that he could lead them up a climb on Buckbarrow, situated at the bottom end of Wasdale just above Wasdale Hall. 

We know that 4th July was a Sunday, so as all the locals were avid church goers – Methodists or Chapel, they would not have worked on the Sabbath. Therefore, it is highly likely that they left a day earlier on Saturday 3rd, which happened to be a very warm muggy day and most likely, the day he soloed the Needle. This is of course, pure speculation by the author, but until someone else can come up with a more concrete date?

As the Needle did not get its second ascent until 17th March, does this indicate that neither Haskett Smith nor the climbing fraternity of that time, felt the climb was of any value and therefore not worth repeating until 3 years later! The question to be asked is; (a) what happened to cause the sudden rush of ascents in March 1889 when it received its 2nd ascent, continuing through to 24th December, when it received its 10th ascent? (b) similarly, given that Haskett Smith made repeated ascents of many other climbs between 1882 and 1910, why is it that the only repeat ascent of the Needle that appears to be public knowledge, was his 50th anniversary climb in 1936 when in fact, he made two other ascents in between his first and the 1936 climb; his 2nd ascent in 1890 and the 3rd ascent in 1899, both with his younger brother Edmund.

There are of course, many other aspects of his life that were not common knowledge, unlike his climbing record and his many articles he wrote for a variety of climbing club journals. For instance, he smoked a pipe, liked cigars and cigarettes; played chess; sailed frequently with Maurice Byles in the Byles family steam yacht SS Saevuna to the continent, where they both cycled across most European low countries; he spoke French; had a tussle with the King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria in 1914 on a train station; and despite having poor eyesight due to an earlier infection which never cleared up, and both his arms and hands shook constantly (possibly onset of Parkinson’s disease), he still owned and drove a car right up until 1938. (His first car was bought in 1910 – a GN basic model and his second car a 2 seater Clyno, in 1920)
It is interesting to note; that all that has been written about Haskett Smith since his death on 11th march 1946, contains the same errors of facts. For instance, they all state that he was born at Trowswell in Cranbourne, Kent, the family estate, when in fact he was born in Bognor Regis.
Similarly, most writers state that his first visit to the French Pyrenees was in 1880 with the explorer Count Henry Russell, when in reality, he visited Russell in 1873 when he was aged 14, as his family visited Russell in the French Pyrenean village of Faubourg whilst touring Europe during summer as they did every year.   By the end of 1930’s his health had deteriorated to such an extent, that he was barely able to write his signature, and in 1936 at his 50th anniversary ascent of the Needle, he had to be placed in the middle of a rope of three.

Whilst a great deal is known about his 50th anniversary climb of the Needle in 1936, very little is known about events that occurred after the climb as it was not made public, let alone the fact that as his eyesight was failing and his hands shook permanently, he was reluctant to drive to Wasdale at the behest of FRCC in order to make the anniversary climb and so asked Graham Wilson (Assistant Ed. Of the FRCC Journal), to accompany him on the drive from Maidenhead to Wasdale on 10th April - Good Friday. After the ascent and the climbing party were returning to the hotel, some of the onlookers decided to climb up Needle Gulley, and in doing so, someone knocked down a stone which struck one of the ladies below on the head. Luckily she was not seriously injured but with hindsight, it was a prelude of what was to follow.

At mid-afternoon, news came in of an accident to a climber on Great Gable and so Prof. Robert Samuel Chorley (President of the FRCC and who led Haskett Smith on the anniversary climb), called for eight volunteers to carry up a stretcher and first aid packs to aid the rescue of the stricken climber.
It was now 5.45pm and the light was fading, but off they went in the direction of the Needle again. Half-way along the path, the eight volunteers were overtaken by Chorley, carrying another first aid sack, his stamina endless in the extreme. 

The rescue party were met by another party of walkers who were returning to the hotel, so they turned around when they heard where the rescue party were going, offering to carry the stretchers and first aid sacks. The rescuers tramped past Moses Finger, along the track to Hell Gate where they found the injured climber, a John Murray. The time was 7.30pm and all light had but faded into the darkness of the cold night. It appears, that the injured climber and his companions had decided to down climb unroped, a route called Tophet Bastion when Murray slipped on either wet rock or grass, rolled down across the sloping scree where he sustained some serious injuries.

His companions had already applied bandages to his injured limbs and so by 8pm, the rescue party were ready to carry him down to safety back down to the Wasdale Hotel, arriving finally around 10.45pm. Fortunately, one of the hotel guests was a doctor who examined the injured climber, and an hour later, both were in an ambulance off to Whitehaven Hospital. 

The Hotel had made a meal for the rescuers who spent the evening discussing Haskett Smith’s jubilee climb and the subsequent events. Several days later, it came to light, that Murray, the injured climber, died during an operation to amputate one of his badly crushed legs. A sad ending to a celebratory event!
Sadly, Haskett Smith developed dementia in the last few years of his life and died alone in a nursing home in Poole. He was buried in the local cemetery and it is interesting to note, that no climbers or members of any of the climbing clubs he was a member of, attended. A sad end to an individual who gave so much. Indeed, between 1886 and 1942, he wrote and had published in excess of 80 articles, including his two climbing guide books – England 1894 (the first ever climbing guide book to be referenced in another book), and Wales and Ireland 1895. 

He did not complete his third volume – Scotland – due out in 1896, due to poor sales of his first two volumes, negative reviews in Alpine Journal and Climbers’ Club Journal, and on hearing that O. G. Jones was publishing a guide book in 1897. This and the negative reviews, persuaded him not to go ahead with it. It is believed that the manuscript for the Scotland book was destroyed in an air raid in 1945 in London. 

A fitting epitaph should be:   ‘non omnis moriar’ - ‘not all of me shall die’

Frank Grant.2017

Note: Whilst the 400+ page, 133,500 word biography is finished, it appears publishers of climbing and mountaineering books, are currently only interested in publishing stories and biographies of ‘eminent climbers'.Preferably ones that are still alive! FG

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Shortest line to Nowhere

Recent marketing media from Adidas is indicative of a wider trend in the climbing community, one of commercialisation that threatens the cultural and historical health of the sport.

Let us be clear, bolting is in certain cases, a necessary evil and is here to stay. I think we might all agree that in a perfect world, bolting and the wider environmental impact certain climbing techniques inflict would not exist. We would leave no spittled chalk, no rubber streaks, no tired rock. All climbing, we must accept, has an impact and there is a responsibility on every participant to limit it.

However, where these limits should lie are sensitive – we have had this debate. Messner, Chouinard, Wilson, Edwards, The Cornish, they’ve all had their say. The parameters of what is acceptable are subjective, however, even in this present day much can still be said for Messner’s ‘Murder of the Impossible’; are the limits of climbing pushed by our own courage, or by a willingness to assault a cliff with bolt and drill?

That said, Lito Tejada-Flores (in a seminal essay, ‘Games Climbers Play’, that should be read and studied with all the fervour of learning to tie a fig. 8) defined ethics in a neat package back in 1967; that as objective risk increases the number of restrictions one places on themselves can decrease. For a boulderer, with fewer objective risks, it is accepted that items such as a mat and shoes are the acceptable limits of an ethical ascent. For the expedition climber, everything is fair game; bolts, radios, helicopters, ladders. And this scale slides depending on the ‘game’ a climber wishes to partake in. 

This debate of how and where to set this limit is healthy, and in fact necessary. Climbing is a beautifully autonomous activity so much so that we as a community are the only people who can hold ourselves to account. It’s a decade old debate and the battle lines are very clearly drawn. For the first time since its inception though we are standing on the edge of a precipice. A new challenger has appeared on the horizon and we seem unable yet to entirely make out its detail. Modern day climbing cannot be considered anarchic, nor subversive.

It is not the 1970s sub-culture that actively resists assimilation in to the societal ‘norm’. Mountain culture is reaching an audience and participant like never before. And when the likes of Adidas and Nike begin cashing in from the desires of the populace you know you’ve made it to the big time. Such commercialisation is changing the face of the sport, reducing its complexity and history down to such grey, one dimensional ‘musak’ as to render it part of the broader static buzz of everyday life. Suddenly we’re amongst new territory, a place where Simpson and Yates may as well be a publishing firm and Messner’s mountain firsts are apparently still up for grabs. Commercialisation is reductive and will eventually consume itself. It cares not for the richness of feeling, for the lived experience of the community, but only for profit and will pillage both the mountain community and the mountain environment for all its worth. 

Enter, not from stage right, but from the depths of a trapdoor in the floor: a recent short video published  and sponsored by Adidas (* See Below) – Gareth Leah and Sergio Almada bolt a new big-wall line up the 455m face of Pico Cão Grandé in São Tomé. A video that makes no apologies for cutting from shot to shot to shot of drilling and hammering. Tone is everything and the edit sets an uncomfortable one which does not do justice to the sensitivity of bolting on such a remote location. The style of the ascent is at odds with the location; a pristine and unspoilt wilderness that is laid low by an all-out assault on the rock (over 200 bolts on 455m of rock).


The ‘Big Wall Game’, as Tejada-Flores defines it, is ‘characterised by the prolonged periods of time spent on the walls and by the fact that each member of the party does not have to climb every lead […] The full technical and logistic equipment range is allowed.’ So, for the purposes of assessing whether São Tomé was ‘ethical’ or not, one can clearly see that no margins were crossed, the ethics themselves are broadly correct – if a little unsettling to watch – and the basic principles of a big wall ascent were followed.
The problem however lies within its portrayal, and the reductive tone the film sets. What Adidas are condoning, and indeed profiting from, is the systematic destruction of a pristine natural environment. The ascent might be ethical, but was it stylish? Screaming 200 odd bolts in to rock and crawling upwards.

But more importantly for the mountain community is that this commercialisation is happening so quickly that the historic ethical debates that our sport is founded upon are being lost amongst a whirlwind of quick to produce and quick to consume media. When Adidas publish a film on a new route in São Tomé that displays a complete disregard for the sensitivity of bolting ethics, we must all raise our heads and take notice. Not because bolting is inherently unethical, but because it is portrayed in such a reductive way to such a large audience that it lays out our sport and the values it holds in the entirely wrong light. It forewarns of a future where generations of future climbers have no understanding of ethics, of style or of impact.
Business has no interest in the edginess or culture of climbing, it wants to package it down in as neat a box as possible and sell it to as many laymen as possible. Make no mistake, such a film is advertising, and serves to commercially benefit the company. It does not serve to develop the cultural vibrancy of the community and does not take any interest in the ethical debates that our history is founded upon. Such content will continue to reduce our sport until it is on its knees, has no dignity, no ethics and no direction before steamrollering forward on its merry way. 

Clearly, such organisations are not going to attach a recommended reading list to every product or media item they publish. It is, therefore, up to us to keep such debates current and keep our values alive for new participants. The likes of Wilson and his contemporaries are still as relevant as ever and must be at the forefront of all our minds in the face of this new adversary; one that risks destroying the very history and tradition that our community is built upon.

Tejada-Flores, and the rest, are the vibrancy of culture that accompanies climbing, and in the same way that we are accountable for our own codes and values, so too are we accountable in ensuring that our story and the ethical debates that shape it are not lost amongst the modern day white noise that threatens to make us forget who we are.
Jonny Dry: 2017

Friday, 10 February 2017

St Sunday Crag

Somewhere in an old guide-book, published more than fifty years ago, I remember reading: "St. Sunday Crag IS the Ullswater mountain," and, when you come to think about it, it's not a bad description. For St. Sunday Crag dominates the western reach of Ullswater far more dramatically than Helvellyn and, in a sense, commands the whole length of the lake better than any other mountain. And yet its summit is disappointing and the mountain not especially popular. Not many people bother with the ascent for its own sake, but are more likely to use the mountain as a pleasant route off Fairfield.

Which is very strange, for St. Sunday Crag is a massive, soaring fell, one of the steepest in Lakeland, with a fine shape when seen from any angle. Who St. Sunday was I've little idea. W. G. Collingwood suggested the name might be derived from St. Sanctum, but this doesn't help a great deal. I have also been told the name is thought to be derived from St. Dominic--the Saint of the Lord's Day—which suggests there might be some tradition of a religious house of this order in the district, but I have no facts to substantiate this. There is a St. Sunday's Beck to the south-east of Kendal, but no apparent connection between the two, and the old books named the mountain St Sunday's Crag. But perhaps the name doesn't matter very much and it trips readily off the tongue, although it is really surprising how few people know the mountain. I was there one October, climbing some of new routes on the crag but when I happened to mention this few days later to a friend who has been walking the fells for years, he confessed he had never been on the mountain and had never even noticed the crag.

And yet the Grisedale face of the mountain, which drops nearly 2000‘ in half a mile is one of the most dramatic fellsides in the country and the crags below the summit are nearly a mile long. But my friend is by no means alone in not knowing about this long line of crag, as big as several Napes Ridges crowded together, for rock climbers had missed it for years and only started making climbs there 12 years ago.

Seen from the valley the crags look almost insignificant because of the length and steepness of the fellsides below them, and it is only when you get among them that you realise what you have been missing. The crag is not among the best in Lakeland, but at least there is a lot of it, the rock is good, and some of the climbs, particularly on the Great Nose and The Pillar, are quite impressive. So far about 20 routes have been made and there is scope for more climbing there, although the approach to the crag-for the climber- can be rather long and tedious.

But there’s much more to St Sunday Crag than this rather restricted appeal to the rock climber. For the mountain is not only a shapely impressive fell but a magnificent viewpoint. the summit itself,as I have indicated, is rather dull, but from a point a little to the north, and indeed, from any point on the NE ridge, there are wonderful views of Ullswater. Perhaps the best views of the lake from any of the surrounding fells.

The classic scramble-Pinnacle Ridge
And the descent from the ridge,across the shoulder of Birks and through the steeply wooded slopes of Glemara Park, is among the joys of Patterdale. This is a track for walking down rather than up, for the view is below you all the way. The lake curving around the side of Place Fell,with its tiny islands, riding like yachts at anchor, and the scene slowly changing from crag and woods to the pastoral beauty of the eastern end.

The hard way up St Sunday Crag is to plough up the rather dreary zig-zags from Elmhow is Grisedale, and this is the way the climber goes, but there is an interesting route from Deepdale by way of the East Ridge, or better still, the mountain can be approached from Fairfield. I suppose I must have come off Fairfield this way a dozen times, over Cofa Pike, down to Deepdale Hause and then pleasantly and easily over the top of St Sunday Crag and down to Patterdale for food and drink. Alternatively, the walker can get his peak the long easy way by walking up Grisedale to the tarn, and then working his may up the to Deepdale Hause and on to the summit with the run  down to Patterdale as dessert. Before the rock-climbers found the crag, the Grisedale face of the mountain used to be an interesting place for wild flowers, perhaps because hardly anybody ever went there. I hope and believe it will continue so, for the climbs are not likely to attract crowds of Great Gable proportions, and you can still have them to yourself and watch the processions moving over Striding Edge across the valley.

Perhaps we've been on the crag a dozen times, but we've never seen anybody else there. Although the actual summit of St. Sunday Crag is not an especially interesting place and only a moderate viewpoint, the neighbouring top of Gavel Pike, across a little saddle,  is a pleasant, airy peak well worth a visit. One rewarding view from the main summit-perhaps its main feature-is the splendid peeps into the coves below the summit of Helvellyn, but the bulk of this mountain, and of Fairfield, too, prevents many distant views. The sweeps down into Grisedale and Deepdale, however, maintain St. Sunday Crag's dominance, and the views to north-east, once the descent is begun, will always justify the climb to the top.

The last time we came down from St. Sunday Crag, the lake looked like a silver scimitar curving around the shoulder of Place Fell and the air was so still we could see the Scots pines reflected in the waters of Lanty Tarn in the little col on the edge, overlooking Glenridding. The dogs were barking down at Grassthwaite How but the Grisedale Beck was silent and we could see no movement, except for the clouds, over the whole countryside. Down in the woods the leaves were turning to gold and the smoke from the cottages in Patterdale rose straight and slowly in the evening air. 

AH Griffin: The Roof of England-1968 

Friday, 3 February 2017

Livesey on Langdale

Livesey on Gogarth

The following piece, originally published in the late lamented Crags magazine, 37 years ago, shows the inimitable Pete Livesey in waspish form as he offers 'another vicious poison pen guidebook review'.Casting his national health specs over Mike Mortimer's Fell and Rock Club Langdale guide.

Another vicious poison-pen guidebook review. The man they all love to hate strikes again! 'Have pen, dog and Marjorie; will travel'—the motto of Mike Mortimer, country-trotting lightning guide writer. Now working for the FRCC, Mortimer has produced a thoroughly modern update of Allan Austin's 1966 and 1972 guides to Great Langdale.A place like the Llanberis Pass that is considered the barometer of an area's climbing position and progress. In comparison with recent CC guides, the FRCC are producing a much tidier job with more information where it should be, ie- with the route, and not hidden among innumerable lists and indexes at the back. Information is well presented, understandable and well suited to its function; guiding. In sorting out both the Tremadog and Langdale guides, Mortimer has shown what a professional job in guidebooks should look like. The guide is hardly the revelationary affair that the recent Tremadog and Northern Limestone guides have been. New routes since 1977 in Langdale have been both fewer and of lower quality than in most other popular climbing areas. And it may well be that the guide will not be in the same sales league as, say, the Tremadog and Borrowdale guides, despite the area's traditional popularity.

Mortimer again indulges himself in his own brand of idiosyncrasies and dogma, much of the comment in the guide being a reflection of pure Mortimer. The FRCC parochialism still exists, perhaps surprisingly in view of MM's international activities and allegiances. Comment in the historical section and in the first ascents list persists in devaluing certain climbs (and by implication, climbers) in particular, through sometimes misinformed, ethical grounds. Other climbs, or new route activities involving other possible ethical malpractices are however completely ignored. Routes described as minor variations are omitted while others of more recent but even less worthy origin are included. Longhair is left out (and wrongly described in a passing comment) but the much less independent and more artificial Poacher Right Hand is included. Fine Time is debased with the comment "Yet another preplaced peg and sling 'for aid".Inferring that "It is no solution at all to fail, and then go round to the top and abseil down and place a fixed piton and hanging sling which can be reached from below, in order to bypass a particularly troublesome spot".

Langdale: Image-The National Trust 
Both insults are totally untrue, ill conceived and unnecessary; Fine Time was climbed on sight and the route's aid point was already in place, complete with an old sling (it was of course an old aid route). There was no "pre-preparation" as there is on most modern (IE. since 1970) first ascents. The Ragman's Trumpet/Sally Free and Easy confusion is still not sorted out, the dates again being wrongly recorded. Sally Free and Easy was climbed in two attempts, the first pitch being the major pitch (indeed, the only real pitch) of Ragman's Trumpet, but climbed nine days before that route. Neither is the upper pitch loose as described—it is eminently sound and holdless. Why doesn't the historical comment mention the much more serious trends evidenced by recent routes; the preplaced nut on Warrior, the profusion of manufactured holds on Desperado, Peccadillo and Take it to the Limit, or the almost universal practising of crucial moves on a top rope prior to the first ascent?

Such practices, particularly the last one, should be mentioned; they have a profound effect on the possible seriousness of a subsequent ascent, particularly on unprotected routes. The style of ascent of older routes such as Cruel Sister and Peccadillo, criticised in the text, is considerably "whiter" by comparison. Despite professionally written material, the finishing work on the guide is seriously lacking; the old Heaton Cooper diagrams are hopelessly inadequate for today's crowded cliffs. Indeed, many have not even been amended to include newer routes or correct old mistakes. Even worse, a second modern diagram of the East Wall of Pavey Ark is included.

Although both diagrams cover the same piece of rock, they are both unrecognisable as the same cliff and neither are much good as topos. Photographs are included but are distinctly mediocre, although I have rarely seen good photos of the Lakes suitable for such a small format—perhaps better to leave them out altogether. I think the grades are generally good, with the glaring exception of Armalite (Raven Crag) graded E2,5c and badly described, while the route is in fact a 6a unprotected chop route—just the thing for the aspiring E2 leader! I actually wonder how someone who aid climbs most routes over El can give such a subjective appraisal as an E grade to harder routes; maybe they are printer’s errors for Al, A2 etc (Bitch!!!—Ed).

Finally, I'd like to know why the description of Poacher Right Hand didn't say "Alternatively the crux can be avoided by following Poacher on the left", just like the Tremadog guide described Legbreak.

Pete Livesey: First published in Crags, Aug/Sep 1980.