29 December 2011

Boulder Britain - Grimer's Fairytale

Fresh off Santa's Sleigh comes the much needed Boulder Britain by  the sometimes outspoken Niall Grimes.  I was worried this book would be about Grimer's ego as some of his writing has been and his Somewhat novel approach to international relations worried me yet further. That style got him noticed, more recently he is known for his guidebook work.

I need not have worried aside from the occasional personal touch this is a classically written guide. Grimer loves climbing and and this guide looks certain to do for bouldering what Classic Rock and Hard Rock did for trad climbing way back when.
The guide is a well conceived, finely crafted and encyclopaedic guide. It weighs in at a Kilo but its not a coffee table book, it will work just fine as a guide. It  includes many and for all I know, most of the best bouldering we have on this small but rocky Island. Actually despite the fact that Grimer always appeared to portrays himself in his writing as an idiot who hated people, what shone through was his knowledge of climbers and climbing. This book as much as anything is, a homage to bouldering as a wonderfully pointless and deeply satisfying way to spend some time before you die.
The book is easy to use, beautifully illustrated and feels like a brave attempt to fully document the state of the Bouldering nation. We are now  50 or so years after people first started climbing on small rocks and recording what they did.
There are more than a few nods to UK bouldering with a page offering Waddage to the worthy and a few of the high quality pictures being of DFBWGC. It also has a graded list which I'm sure will spark as much debate as ever.

Each crag or area is described briefly with coverage on the type of problems you can expect, when it gets the sun, what time of year it likely to be in peak condition and a description of the problems and the grade range. Inevitabley there is only room to describe a few of the problems at any particular venue. So there will be some people's favourites that are missing. Most of the classics and many of the modern desperates are in there though.
There is also what seems like a sensible attempt to settle on the more graduated Font grading system alone, rather than to combine it with V grades as some guides have in the past. I also like the idea of extending the grading downwards to include 3, 2 and 1 so that  beginners can feel included too. Even though we are poorly stocked with lower grade problems as a country compared to other parts of the world. This seems better than  "VB" which seemed not to cater for children or newcomers at all well.Some of the grades are wayward but your asking an enormous amount to get thousands right and grading boulder problems at a grade that you don't really operate at, is notoriously difficult as one man's 5+ is another's 6B.

There are what for many are the "main" venues in both Yorkshire, Northumberland and the Peak that I was pretty familiar with. As well as  the ones in the Pass and the Lakes that I have played on in the past.  Then there are hundreds of places that I had either never heard of, or never been to. Loads in the South West, Scotland, the Midlands, Southern Sandstone and the North West. Chuck this book in a bag with your boots and a chalk bag and there won't be many places in the UK where you won't be able to pull on a some small holds if you find yourself there.
I'm going to stop short of saying this is a must buy, but  at the very least get a mate to buy it and then borrow it on long term loan. Facts  have to be faced though this is a brilliant book and we are lucky too have it.

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