Books of the month – New walking guides and climbing narratives
- Monday 2nd March 2020
Day Walks on the South Downs
The second edition of Deirdre Huston's popular guidebook features twenty circular routes between six and fourteen miles in length and lifts the lid on some of the most scenic and historical areas in the South Downs National Park. The extract below is from the Winchester Hill Fort and the Mean Valley.
Sheffield Round Walk
This is a guide to the fifteen-mile walk – starting and finishing at Hunter's Bar Roundabout and passing through Endcliffe Park, Ecclesall Woods, Beauchief, Graves Park and Meersbrook Park and then on to Nether Edge and Chelsea Park. Each route features stunning photography and 1:25,000 maps. Click below to download the Limb Valley section.
Day Walks in the Cairngorms
Walkhighland's latest guide features twenty circular walks between 6.3 and 18.3 miles in length across the stunning scenery in the Cairngorms National Park. Each route features beautiful photography, Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps and easy to follow directions. Click the link below for a free guide to Earn Dearg Mor from Glen Feshie.
The Last Blue Mountain
The Last Blue Mountain tells of the harrowing true story of the 1957 expedition to Mount Haramosh in Pakistan. With no viable route forward and the expedition nearing its end, four young climbers began their descent down the mountain but two were caught in an avalanche and swept into a snow basin at 20,000 feet. What followed is an astonishing tale of friendship and fortitude in the face of tragedy.
In the extract below the team try to plan a route up the north-east ridge leading towards Haramosh II when the avalanche descends on two of the men as the others watch on helplessly.
The cloud was building up in the basin below them and around the main summit. None of them cared to think about the time. This was their last day, and they would prolong this moment as long as possible. It had a sweetness and a satisfaction that stemmed partly from the realisation of achievement and partly from the disappointments and frustrations that had gone before. They had completed their reconnaissance, and only just in time.
Many times during the past few weeks each member of the party had asked himself whether the expedition had been worthwhile. Now they had their answer. It was worth coming all this way and enduring all the discomforts and privations for this view alone. And there were many, many other compensations. They sat there chewing chocolate, relaxed and happy, all their difficulties forgotten, laughing at former strains, a team as never before. For some weeks now, these men had been shedding something of their individualism, pooling their resources, drawing strength from each other, becoming a team. Each man had contributed to it in his own way; for some it had been easier than for others. Throughout August they had each kept a personal diary. But in the first few days of September, one by one they had stopped writing, all within two or three days of each other. It was as though they could no longer keep secrets, no longer express themselves except together.
They began to talk about going back. But first, Jillott wanted to climb a little way along the ridge to the top of the Cardinal’s hat that had stood out so clearly on the way up. It was an obvious vantage point and from it he thought he might get an even more dramatic view of the trough and the valley.
‘Will you come up with me, John?’ he called to Emery. ‘Then Tony can take a picture of us. It’s as near the top of the mountain as we’ll get.’
Emery roped up with Jillott, and the two men prepared to move off. It was in keeping with their mood of elation that they should want to reach just one more dominant point before going down.
‘Keep well back from the cornice,’ shouted Streather. ‘It’s one of the biggest cornices I’ve seen.’
‘We’ll keep well down,’ said Jillott.
‘I’ll sing out if it looks as though you’re getting too close.’ ‘Right.’
The pinnacle was only about a hundred feet distant, and being right on the crest of the ridge, the slope up to it was easy. Jillott and Emery moved quickly across a small crevasse and up towards the pinnacle. Some forty feet from the top, and well down the slope, Emery stopped to take a belay and Jillott began to cover the last few yards to the pinnacle. Both men had kept so well clear of the cornice that Streather, watching anxiously, had not needed to shout a warning. He had taken several photographs and was preparing to take a last shot as soon as Jillott reached the pinnacle and turned to look down. Emery was taking a particularly firm belay with the cornice in mind, and Jillott had covered the last few yards to the pinnacle and had almost reached the point at which he was going to stop, when there was a muffled explosion which seemed to come from under their feet, followed by a crunching, tearing sound, and almost simultaneously the snow on which Jillott and Emery were standing began to move.
For a fraction of a second it seemed to Streather and Culbert that the other two climbers were simply playing about. Their first reaction was to laugh at the comical way in which they were throwing their arms and legs about, jerkily, like puppets, their weight not properly planted on the ground. But in the same instant they understood the awful significance of the muffled explosion, the tearing sound, and the telltale crack in the snow a few feet above Jillott. They stood like statues, dumbfounded, fearful to move lest the avalanche spread, horrified by the ghastly sight of their two comrades being swept helplessly past them with sudden and terrifying acceleration, down the convex slope and away out of sight.
The snow basin immediately below them was hidden by the curve of the slope, so that they could not see where Jillott and Emery fell. And the avalanche had thrown up clouds of snow which reduced the visibility in its path to nil. But they could still see down into the trough, half a mile distant and a thousand feet below. Here in a few moments the billowing clouds of snow crept forward, more slowly now because of the distance, like steam exhaled from a train. Streather and Culbert stood transfixed as the avalanche surged on with the weight and power of a great surf- breaker, smashing on to the rocky ice cliffs at the edge of the trough in a storm of snow spray, and plunging at last with mighty release over the north face.
These were the great avalanches that they had seen from the valley, crashing down the north face on to the glacier. They had never dreamt that one such avalanche might carry two of their comrades with it.
It had all happened with such stupefying suddenness, their situation had changed so abruptly from contentment to disaster, that it was impossible for them to take it in. Eventually Streather moved across to the point of the avalanche, where the surface was now firm and denuded of all excess snow, belayed by Culbert. From here he was able to look down the slope into the snow basin below. Flurries of powder snow were still settling, but as he looked he thought he detected movement. Then, to his astonishment and joy, he saw a figure moving about in the snow. There was no mistaking that green windproof suit. It was Jillott.
He watched incredulously as Jillott seemed to bend over and dig his hands in the snow. Soon, like a chicken hatching from an egg, another figure broke out of the snow. It was Emery, apparently buried by the avalanche. Both men stood up and seemed to shake themselves. Streather expressed his incredulous relief by shouting again and again across to Culbert. By some miracle both climbers had survived the fall.
Published in 1974, Ken Wilson's first edition of Hard Rock quickly established itself as the definitive representation of British rock climbing. While climbing has undergone many developments since the 1970s, modern climbers are still drawn to the world-class routes featured in Ken's original text. Alongside many of the original essays, written by a eminent climbers, including Ed Drummond, Chris Bonington and Hamish MacInnes, this new edition features thirteen new routes and pieces by Eleanor Fuller, Stephen Reid, Kevin Howett, David Pickford, Paul Harrison, John Lawrence Holden, Martin Moran, Paul Donnithorne and Emma Alsford and is illustrated with all-new colour photography throughout.
The route available to download below is the classic Prophecy of Drowning E2 5c, which is located on Pabbay, a small uninhabited island on the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.