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Rope Boy

A life of climbing from Yorkshire to Yosemite

Paperback (248pp)
  • Paperback £9.99
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PLEASE NOTE: This is a print on demand title and may take up to ten working days to arrive

Rope Boy is the story of Dennis Gray, a young lad from Leeds who gets his first taste of rock at age eleven, and goes on to become a prominent figure in the UK climbing scene for decades to come.

Gray’s climbing career began with the ‘Bradford Lads’, climbing in Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales, exploring classic crags such as Clogwyn Du’r Arddu, tentatively venturing into an exciting new game, and inspired by the pioneering Arthur Dolphin. Just as the scene was rapidly developing in the 1950s, so was Gray’s desire to climb, and he was soon climbing with the Rock and Ice legends Joe Brown, Don Whillans and Nat Allen, among others, making first ascents such as North Crag Eliminate on Castle Rock in the Lake District and Grond on Dinas Cromlech in Wales.

Larger objectives beckoned, and Gray embarked upon multiple expeditions to the Alps as well as to the Himalaya, the Andes, and America, making numerous first ascents along the way including the north ridge of Alpamayo in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, and Mukar Beh in the Kulu valley of India.

Rope Boy relays times of frustration, adventure and success, and the hilarious and dauntless friends with whom Gray shared his experiences. Dennis Gray’s transformation from rope boy to expedition leader is an inspiring and encouraging tale of one boy’s journey into adulthood via a world of rock, snow and ice.

Also available as an ebook:

Kindle UK

Kindle USA


Dennis Gray first climbed as a schoolboy, with the 'Bradford Lads', a group that emerged in the 1940s and remained united for many years. In 1954, when called up for National Service, he was posted to Manchester where he would go on to climb with the finest talent in the country: members of the Rock and Ice club - Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Merrick 'Slim' Sorrell, Ron Moseley, Nat Allen, and many others.

A brief posting to Innsbruck in 1955 gave him his first taste of Alpine rock, and countless more Alpine visits then followed throughout the sixties, as well as a visit to the Himalaya, which led to the first ascent of the Manikaran Spires. In 1966 he led an expedition to film the first complete ascent of the north ridge of Alpamayo in the Cordillera Blanca range in the Peruvian Andes, and two years later led another which made the first ascent of Mukar Beh in the Kulu valley in India.

Gray became the first general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), a position he held for eighteen years until 1989, before later guiding in Morocco, the Atlas Mountains, and the Himalaya. He then returned to academia and has written three papers about various aspects of development in China, after some time spent lecturing in China and researching in Oxford.

He founded the Chevin Chase cross-country race in 1979, one of the most popular running events in Yorkshire, and has published seven books including a novel, a book of poems, and two books of anecdotes and stories. He lives in Leeds, and has three grown children and five grandchildren.  

  • Title: Rope Boy
  • Sub-title: A life of climbing from Yorkshire to Yosemite
  • Author: Dennis Gray
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-911342-22-9
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication date: 28 November 2016
  • Edition: New
  • Size: 234mm x 156mm
  • Extent: 248 pages, black and white photos
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Classification: Biography: Sport (BGSA), Wales (1DBKW), Northern Scotland, Highlands and Islands (1DBKSH), Derbyshire and Peak District (1DBKEMD), France (1DDF), Alps (1DFHA), Western and Pacific Coast states (1KBBW).
  • Weight: 400g
  • Retail price: £9.99

Also available as an ebook:

  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN:  978-1-910240-91-5
  • Publication Date: 14 October 2016
  • Price: £2.99

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