/ Mountain Literature Classics: Always a Little Further by Alastair Borthwick

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UKC/UKH Articles 12 Aug 2019
Always a Little Further cover Great mountain writing doesn't have to involve great mountains, says Ronald Turnbull, and this charming account of postwar bumbling is a case in point.

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Doug 12 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I think I first read this some 40 years ago & that edition looks like the copy I have (2nd hand from somewhere). A great classic, is it still in print ?

Rigid Raider 12 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Yes it's a really charming, entertaining little book. I've got it on my bookshelf. Must re-read it. 

pasbury 12 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

The accounts of getting around without cars and unconventional sleeping arrangements are some of the best parts of the book.

gooberman-hill 12 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

This is one of the great pieces of mountain literature. The pure joy of being out and in the hills seeps from every pore of it. There are epics, but no world-changing climbs - this is history written by the minor characters. The Creag Dhu and the Ptarmigan (the leading clubs in Scotland at the time) are mentioned, but are not central to the story..

If you haven't read it, do yourself a favour and find a copy!

Steve

Doug 12 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

This orbituary by Jim Perrin may be of interest

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/oct/09/guardianobituaries.booksobituaries

rogerwebb 12 Aug 2019
In reply to Doug:

Thanks, I hadn't seen that. 

Mark Collins 14 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

The cover photo looks amazing. Does anyone know where it was taken please? Any further detail like what route would also be appreciated. Looks like the far North West of Scotland to me like Stac Pollaidh or similar.

DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Mark Collins:

Rose Route on Suilven maybe? That neck of the woods anyway if not that exact route.

Post edited at 09:12
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Even this charming little article doesn’t do the book justice; it’s easily the best, and also the funniest, book written about UK climbing.

jcm

Andy2 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Well done. The picture appeared in Scottish Climbs Vol 2 (H MacInnes) and is captioned "Climbing on Caisteal Liath Suilven"

DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Andy2:

> Well done. The picture appeared in Scottish Climbs Vol 2 (H MacInnes) and is captioned "Climbing on Caisteal Liath Suilven"

I've got that somewhere, will need to dig it out.

Sean Kelly 14 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Is it available as a reprint? I would buy it for one.

Mark Collins 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> Rose Route on Suilven maybe? That neck of the woods anyway if not that exact route.

Thanks. Pleased that I wasn't too far off.

Gordon Stainforth 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> Rose Route on Suilven maybe? That neck of the woods anyway if not that exact route.

I'm amused by your gloriously inappropriate metaphor 'neck of the woods' for a bleak landscape that has scarcely a stunted tree in sight for hundreds of square miles.

DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I'm generally quite good at gloriously inappropriate.

rif 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Andy2:

But the scatter of lochans in the distance isn't right for Suilven; looks to me as if it was taken from Lurgainn Edge or some other route on the W side of Cul Beag, looking north

DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to rif:

> But the scatter of lochans in the distance isn't right for Suilven; looks to me as if it was taken from Lurgainn Edge or some other route on the W side of Cul Beag, looking north

I looked at the 1:25,000 map and thought the lochan pattern was spot on for Suilven. There are three lochs with Loch nam Breac Mora written beside them and the one that disappears behind the rock looks like the easternmost of these.

Post edited at 12:44
Harry Jarvis 14 Aug 2019
In reply to rif:

> But the scatter of lochans in the distance isn't right for Suilven; looks to me as if it was taken from Lurgainn Edge or some other route on the W side of Cul Beag, looking north

No, I think Suilven is right - the lochans are to the northwest of Caisteal Liath. On the OS map, Loch nam Breac Mora is the right general area and the L-shaped lochan is in the right place. 

In reply to rif:

No, just going on the picture (not the caption) I'm 99% sure it is Suilven - looking at a map, that distinctive branched lochan is due north of the NW nose of Caisteal Liath

Post edited at 12:43
rif 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Dan et al

Yes, you're right, it's Suilven. Clear once I looked at the 1:25k OS. Anyway, at least I bumped the thread.

Going back to the content of the book, has anyone else been inspired by it to go find the Upper Couloir? A long approach for one ice pitch, but a real Alpine feel to the situation, and the pitch itself seemed good value for II when we did it.  

DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to rif:

I hadn't read the book when I did it but UC was a great day out. I'd be surprised if it's in grade 2 nick often these days.

Gordon Stainforth 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Mark Collins:

Yes, the picture is of Caisteal Liath on Suilven, taken by Hamish MacInnes, first published on p.165 of his 'Scottish climbs' Vol. 2 (Constable 1971). The caption doesn't specify whether it's Heatwave, Portcullis Route or Rose Route, but it's very likely it's Heatwave, because he made the first ascent of that with 'M.C. MacInnes' (sister?) in 1968.

Doug 14 Aug 2019
In reply to rif:

I climbed it with Ian Duckworth & Pete Bilsborough as a day trip from Stirling. As you say, a long way for one short pitch but the views from the top were good

Mark Collins 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Thanks, I wouldn't mind having a go at one of those sometime.

Myfyr Tomos 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

M.C. MacInnes - Catherine (wife in '68)?

Simon Caldwell 14 Aug 2019
In reply to rif:

Not due to the book, but we did it once in excellent conditions - the normally iffy approach was solid never so we approached via the Lower Couloir. As you say, a long way for just one pitch, but it's all about the day as a whole.

Jeffertsc 04 Oct 2019
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I was quite taken aback to find out that Alway a Little Further was 'written by someone nobody's ever heard of'. I think some readers of UKC had heard of Mister Borthwick. At least I hope so! 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/always_a_little_further-11728


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