/ Classic guidebook descriptions
Mr. Sagar's recent article got me thinking about some of the excellent route descriptions that can be found in our guidebooks. What are some of the favourites of the forum?
I'll open with the 1989 CC Cloggy description of Indian Face, which I hope people won't mind me copying here (as it can also be found on the UKC logbook entry):
*** The Indian Face 150 feet
(a.k.a. The Headmaster's Wall)
Standard: E9; Exceptionally Severe (Excessively so). Rubbers.
It has been said that up the face to the right of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a pitch of such appalling difficulty as to be almost beyond the realms of human comprehension has been ascended without mechanical machinations or other insidious practices normally associated with a route of this calibre...
Protection is at best illusory; the whole sweep of rock affords not so much as a single nubbin on which the thinnest line may be secured, nor a single crack in which the most vestigal of chockstones could hope to gain lodgement. Should the leader fail to negotiate the crux, or be seized by a palsy high on the pitch, disaster must be imminent...
The successful leader, even though he be of a modest disposition, may relax, and justifiably award himself a 'pat on the back'.
The example you gave is the first one that sprang to mind when I saw the title of this thread, and absolute classic and my favorite route description.
There's another one that comes to mind that basically gives the message "ignore this description, if you're mad enough to think of climbing this route go and speak to somebody who has climbed it before." Can't remember the route now though I think it also might be on Cloggy?
EDIT: Had a look, don't think it is Cloggy.
The Most blatant description is for a slab boulder.
On the left Edge of the slab, follow the line of obvious no-holds, If you find any holds large enough to pull from, our off route.
These have probably done the rounds on ukc a few times but Iain Peter's classic North Devon guide had plenty
'Conveniently situated next to morwenstone graveyard' etc
Is that the one which mentions "a swift turn of the steering wheel"?
I think so, alas I lost my treasured copy after it had been updated
This has been one of my favourites since 1972 - from Ed Drummond's Avon Gorge guide of that year.
Fingerrip: "The crux is a mantelshelf on small finger holds, followed by a strenuous pull on a minute flake, which has now disappeared."
I always liked the description of GBH in the fairhead guide. It just said something like a good route for the aspiring hardman. I read it to my mate who was like well that's me and then did a full on back summersault from the crux. He didn't hurt himself fortunately and it was very funny.
I obviously then told him gleefully how I'd done it the year before and thought it was piss. Half of which is true
That book is one of my favourites for the descriptions alone. Pretty glad to have inherited it.
Barrabas, Blackchurch Rock
A bold and powerful line spoilt by loose rock. Large nuts are required in more ways than one...
Don’t think so. The Morwenstowe one is for Breakaway or the cliff it’s on.
Possible Hell’s Mouth? Same guide, different crag and an infamous drive-off suicide spot.
The that spring to mind are in the old West Cornwall Guide.
”There’s never a right time to climb The Adversary and now is as good a wrong time as any.”
“Walls festooned with bilious green slime [...] makes The Great Zawn look like a nice place for a family picnic...”
Holds resemble loosely packed playing cards and should remain unshuffled.
Good holds can be found in the beach
Can remember the descriptions of some routes 20 years on. Now there's a guidebook
Athene, E7,6c 105m, Shelter Stone Crag
"If you have what it takes (it will take all you have!), start beneath..."
"...A flake in a groove is tantalisingly out of reach on the right. Make a difficult move to gain this and follow it to easier ground and a belay in the overhung corner on the right. You have to now earned your free entry to a mental institution."
*two separate pitches/parts of description*
2 friends are useful, one in the break and one to drive you to the hospital
I think it was from a route at lawencefield, from the old BMC guide.
Just about anything from the 1988 llanberis guide slate section by Paul Williams, particularly quarryman, fire escape,
That whole description is a work of art. Descent from beyond here is at best extremely difficult, at worst terminally easy.
from Some Northumbrian Rock Climbs, 1950;
Little Wanney Crags:
Beta (name of climb btw!) "Start well in and move out when you bump your head"
Tau; "Direct start up to this hiatus seems to have a fatal lacuna";
Psyche (Diff - now HS 4b) "Two machicolations enable the hanging chimney to be reached"
There are some good quotes from Menlove Edwards in this footless crow post:
For example: Clogwyn-y-Geifr warrants this description, "It has every natural advantage, being steep, composed of pretty rocky sort of rock and being covered with vegetation: also parts of it have been long over-due for public exploitation. It is the sort of place where one can feel the full glory of stepping in perfect safety on someone else's considered opinion."
'. . . or flounder miserably' is a phrase that has stuck in the mind from a past Froggat guidebook.
SOS at the Sea Walls in Avon used to have a white dotted line painted up it. If you look very carefully, you can still see the odd trace of it. The description read, "Tear along the dotted line."
> > Breakaway.
> That whole description is a work of art. Descent from beyond here is at best extremely difficult, at worst terminally easy.
That’s my favourite which immediately came to mind - you beat me to it!
Didn't the Alex Sharp cloggy guide November description go something like :
Pitch1. 150' climb the crack
Pitch 2. 150' climb the crack.
One Cornwall guide described a friend's route as "a loathsome thing". He was really chuffed!
Just checked, no recorded repeats and on a very accessible crag, so it probably is.....
The description of Pigeon Ogo in the 2000 CC guide to Lizard is one of my all-time favourites.
"By comparison, Bosigran's Great Zawn is a pleasant sunny spot, suitable for family picnics... Overhanging sides festooned with bilious green slime and liberal quantities of guano do not encourage an atmosphere of light-hearted anticipation."
I rather like the 1987 Willersley guide's "Only those well versed in jungle warfare and equipped with machete and pith helmet should consider attacking the vertical 'matto grosso' above"
Also IIRC an ancient grit guide to Wharncliffe had "Pretend there's a boulder on your right and step up onto it".
Reach for a Peach Hetchell (82 guide)
In the middle of a seemingly blank wall are two tiny nipples. These are gained obscenely by underclinging an orifice with one finger. Gaining the hole is in itself extremely awkward.
Updated in a later guide to include a mastectomy
Collie's Cleft on An Sgurr, Eigg in the old guide has always amused me:
This route follows a deep, dank, messy chimney at the back of a huge vertical rift in the Main Wall; it is better suited to botanical pursuits than to rock climbing. Not recommended, but if you must:
1. Climb the vegetated chimney to a ledge. 2. Continue up the steep left chimney to an unpleasant exit.
There was a route in the 1970s Cader Idris guidebook called Ape Route, in which every noun in 4 pitches either had the word "vegetated" in front of it or was a type of tree.
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