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Presumptuous Pinnacle Ladies

A selection from the early journals of the Pinnacle Club

Hardback (184pp)
  • Hardback £14.95
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Before the First World War, rock climbing was strictly for men. Women who swapped their long skirts for ‘unwomanly rags’ to tackle the crags were objects of derision and disapproval. But things were changing. In 1921 the Pinnacle Club was founded, the UK’s first all-female rock climbing club. With support from the Manchester Guardian, the Fell and Rock and the Rucksack Club, it attracted plenty of talented and enthusiastic recruits. Their climbing flourished and their ambitions grew.

Presumptuous Pinnacle Ladies is an absorbing collection of articles from the first six journals of the Pinnacle Club (1924–1938) with an introduction by the club archivist Margaret Clennett. The book demonstrates women climbers’ determination to find their own way and their own voice. Focusing mainly on North Wales, the Lake District and Skye, but with one Alpine episode, it presents the unfolding story of women on rock with fluency, intelligence and self-deprecating humour:

Then things began to be slightly uncomfortable. We were forced on to a perpendicular arete of unstable rocks, loosely cemented together with wet turf. Presently one of us dislodged a large block, seriously alarming our Teutonic friend, whose nose it missed by less than an inch. We longed to regain the safety of our delightful gully, and the only possible way was by a funnel-shaped groove of restricting dimensions. It ended in an easy grass ledge. I wriggled up and the lean man followed. There was a furious scraping of boots, a blond head poked out of the groove, and a dismayed voice enquired: ‘Please, what must I do next? I cannot gom up, but I can fall down.’ Then a more poignant appeal: ‘Please, I am slipping, help!’ Our courageous second threw himself full length in the mud and tried to fish up the victim. Immediately a muscular arm freed itself from the crack to cling with an octopus-like grip round his neck. It was perfectly obvious that it wouldn’t be long before he was dragged down, head first, so I had to take a roll in the mud, too, and attach myself firmly to his ankles. There were a few minutes of horrid suspense. Then, snorting and puffing, and accompanied by a loud noise of grating … the German managed to haul himself out of the hateful groove. He staggered over our prostrate bodies to the furthest corner of the shelf, murmuring, ‘Tank Gott, I am safe!’ and began to devour lettuce sandwiches with silent ferocity.

Daloni Seth Hughes,‘Early Days in the Welsh Hills’, PC Journal No 5, 1932–34

Millrace would like to thank the Pinnacle Club for kindly agreeing to this project, and the club archivist, Margaret Clennett, for her considerable help in making it happen. Not only has she spent much time researching and writing the introductory history and notes on individual authors, but she has also helped to identify some of the current copyright holders. Those we have managed to contact and would like to thank for their generous permission to reproduce the relevant material are: Mr and Mrs L Barker, for 'The Way of the Neophyte' and 'On the Fells in the Dark' by Mabel Barker; Alastair Cooper, for 'Early Days in the Welsh Hills' by Daloni Seth Hughes; Anne Wood, for 'Three Modest Peaks' and the picture of the Cwm Dyli hut by Marjorie Wood; and the Rucksack Club for the extract from John Hirst's account of the retreat from the Portjengrat on page 160. In the case of the remaining articles, we will be pleased to rectify any errors or omissions at the earliest opportunity.

  • Title: Climbing Downs
  • Sub-title:
  • Author: Graham Wilson
  • Imprint: Millrace Outdoor
  • ISBN: 9781902173120
  • Rights:
  • Publication date: 2002
  • Edition: First
  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 170mm x 120mm
  • Extent: 160pp, B&W text, B&W illustrations
  • Weight:
  • Retail price: £13.95
  • - See more at:
  • Title: Presumptuous Pinnacle Ladies
  • Sub-title: A selection from the early journals of the Pinnacle Club
  • Author: Introduced by Margaret Clennett
  • Imprint: Millrace Outdoor
  • ISBN: 9781902173290
  • Rights:
  • Publication date: 2009
  • Edition: First
    • Title: Chris Bonington Mountaineer
    • Sub-title: Thirty Years of Climbing on the World's Great Peaks
    • Author: Chris Bonington
    • Imprint: Bâton Wicks
    • ISBN: 978-1-898573-87-6
    • Rights: Worldwide (exc. North America)
    • Publication date: June 1995. This edition, Oct 1996.
    • Edition: Second
    • Format: Paperback
    • Size: 350mm x 235mm
    • Extent: 192 pages; B&W and colour images
    • Weight: 1,070g
    • Retail price: £20
    • - See more at:
  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 170mm x 120mm
  • Extent: 184pp, B&W text and illustrations
  • Weight: 320g
  • Retail price: £14.95

‘If you’re interested in the history of women climbing this is a great read as the stories are small windows into another era and provide an easy introduction to a club which has produced some of the country’s most elite and highly respected female climbers through the ages.’
– Emily Thompson, Women Climb

‘Very interesting topic for the ladies give a history of those who have enjoyed the outdoor life.’
– Amazon reviewer

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