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Classic Rock

Great British Rock Climbs

Hardback (288pp)
  • Hardback £35.00
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Ken Wilson’s Classic Rock is one of the most popular and iconic works of climbing literature ever written. Along with Hard Rock and Extreme Rock, it has acquired something of a legendary status.

First published in 1978, Classic Rock represented the absolute best of British climbing at that time, quickly establishing itself as a must-have publication. It is a celebration of 80 of the best lower-grade routes in the UK, bringing them to life through a superb selection of photographs, anecdotes and essays from some of the most accomplished climbers of the day.

‘Ticking’ the book became an instant and obvious challenge, and remains so to this day (Wilson wasn’t a fan, describing it as ‘puerile ticking’). Any climber working his or her way through the book will be taken on a tour of the finest routes on the best cliffs and crags to be found throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Many of the routes in the book were established over a century ago. At that time the Victorian and Edwardian alpinists, flushed with successes abroad, sought harder challenges at home. With their well-honed confidence, they went straight for the biggest cliffs of Scotland. Anyone seeking to retrace their steps will immediately be transported to bold lines of weakness up otherwise daunting precipices! Before long these pioneers trailed their hemp ropes and balanced their hobnail boots up the sea cliffs of Cornwall and the gritstone edges of the Pennines, and the crags of the Lake District and North Wales. These climbers provided us with a great national treasure – a repository of adventure and spectacle that can provide a lifetime’s enjoyment and challenge.

An ascent of a great historic route will rarely disappoint. Such routes retain much of their original challenge, unsullied by the pitons and bolts often found on their continental equivalents. They take bold, logical lines up otherwise difficult cliffs – usually cleaned and stabilised by years of use.

Classic Rock provides a mere sampling of these treasures. This latest edition has been transformed with over 300 new colour photos. These sit alongside archive images to create an inspirational dialogue between today’s climbers and those of history. 55 chapters, contributed by acclaimed climbers and writers such as Jim Perrin, Paul Nunn and Angela Soper, describe the finest classic rock climbs in Britain. 

Ken Wilson was editor of Mountain magazine from 1969 until 1978 and owner of the outdoor publishing company Diadem from 1978 until 1989, when it was incorporated into Hodder. In 1993 Hodder downsized, and Ken set up the publishing house Bâton Wicks. He has been publisher and author of many of the most important and famed outdoor books in the British climbing world, including the ‘Hard Rock’ series: The Games Climbers Play, The Black Cliff, Cold Climbs, Wild, Classic and Big Walks,and others including, Argonauts of the Western Isles, Canoeing across Canada, and Run River Run. Ken is a member of the Climbers' Club, for which he edited the journal in 1976, and is intimately involved with the BMC, both as a volunteer and a critic. He is an Alpine Club member and an Honorary Member of the BMC. 

  • Title: Classic Rock
  • Sub-title: Great British Rock Climbs
  • Edited by: Ken Wilson
  • Imprint: Bâton Wicks
  • ISBN: 978-1-898573-70-8
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication date: 2 Oct 2007
  • Edition: Second (First published in 1978)
  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 310mm x 240mm
  • Extent: 288 pages; full colour throughout
  • Weight: 1,800g
  • Retail price: £35

'The book may be the ultimate tick list for anyone who loves the mountains, but it is also a brilliant history of British climbing, and a wonderful photo-record of our great outdoors … And all accompanied by masterly little essays from distinguished writers. Not to be missed.' – Roger Alton, The Observer

‘This is the book you’ll find tucked away on the shelves of anyone who’s ever so much considered venturing onto a rockface. Part guide, part coffee-table book, part historical chronicle – this is nothing short of a climber’s bible.’ – Maxim Magazine

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