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Cold Climbs

The Great Snow and Ice Climbs of the British Isles

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Out of Print

Ice and winter climbing has perhaps, above all other games that climbers play, the greatest capacity to thrill the spirit, offer adventure and provide truly memorable days out.

Cold Climbs depicts the hostile, yet magnificent environment in which the hardy snow and ice climbers of Great Britain ply their craft. Tackling the British crags and mountains in winter conditions is one of the most extreme and satisfying of climbing's many sub-cultures.

It has given rise to some of the greatest episodes in the history of the sport and the oft-thought deranged enthusiasm of winter climbers is reflected in a memorable collection of essays by luminaries and hard men such as Tom Patey, Martin Boysen and Rab Carrington. The climbs seem to exude a sense of menace and legend: Zero, Point Five, Black Cleft, Sticil Face, Labyrinth, Eagle Ridge, Raven's Gully, Orion Face, Mitre Ridge, Western Gully are names to send a shiver down the spine, set the pulse racing and fire the ambitions of any climber.

Sitting alongside titles such as Hard Rock and Classic Rock, Cold Climbs is an iconic book. It is a must-read work that has inspired countless climbers with its photography and stories. It provided a mighty tick-list to go at and brought many now-classic lines out from the depths of remote corries and crags. Now an acclaimed classic, the book gives its readers a crash course in the history and mores of a challenging pastime, hopefully inspiring them to get out on their own cold climbs.

This new version of the book incorporates an extra section of colour plates depicting climbs that were not fully illustrated in earlier editions. There is also a brief summary on grading developments, equipment, climbing ability and new historical information.

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: Cold Climbs
  • Sub-title: The Great Snow and Ice Climbs of the British Isles
  • Compiled by: Ken Wilson, Dave Alcock, John Barry
  • Imprint: Bâton Wicks
  • ISBN: 978-0-906371-16-9
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication date: June 1995
  • Edition: Second
  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 282mm x 227mm
  • Extent: 256 pages; B&W & colour illustrations
  • Weight: 1,400g
  • Retail price: £25

‘Cold Climbs brought the routes out of the shadowy northern faces and showcased their glittering attractions for all to admire and aspire too.' – Colin Wells, On The Edge

‘There is something of the struggle, hardship, and esoteric circumstances of winter that propel climbers into excelling themselves with the pen ... the great legends leap out at the reader, demanding to be climbed!’ – Kevin Mclane, Canadian Alpine Journal

‘This is a fascinating book in which winter climbing’s leading performers describe in detail their climbs, many of which represent the ultimate in their sport – a strange, cold, uncomfortable and dangerous activity, practiced among extraordinarily beautiful and hostile environments, often in the most adverse conditions of blizzard and storm, whenever the clamp of winter tightens around the mountains.’ – Jim Perrin, The Guardian (1983)

Modern crampons allow climbers to ‘front point’, a vertical ballet form, up the sheerest ice wall. The boundary of what is now possible has inched away from what would once have been thought suicidal. A clear insight into this hostile world is given in Cold Climbs, an anthology of the miseries and triumphs of some 40 winter mountaineers.’ – Ronald Faux, The Times (1983)

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