Cold and crisp weather is perfect for climbing on gritstone. The YMC have just released Yorkshire Gritstone Volume 2 so you needn’t be short of ideas when it comes to where to visit (we all know Yorkshire’s grit is best anyway)…
Overall Rating: *****
To me a guidebook needs to do more than get you to the crag and show you where the routes go and what grade they are. A guidebook should get you psyched. It should be filled with inspiring photos, interesting route descriptions, history and tales of daring do. A good guidebook should render you practically frothing with excitement, for an area and it’s climbs. I remember as a youth, starting climbing in Cumbria. I used to spend hours in the local library reading local climbing guidebooks to the Lake District and nearby Eden Valley. And coffee table historical books packed with first ascent tales, races for new lines, stories of epics and real photos that made my palms sweat. This is what made me want to go climbing, visit new areas, climb everything and move up the grades.
Modern day, tick box topos, have their place, but to me they just don’t do the routes justice. Maybe I’m old fashioned and it’s what the yoofs want. Simple, digestible, forgettable. Tick one off, move onto the next number. Ideally all in an app. Who cares if Big Ron climbed the first ascent, who was he anyway?
Fortunately, there’s some good news. People do still care and proper guidebooks do still exist. In fact, if the new YMC guidebooks to climbing on Yorkshire gritstone are anything to go by, they’re better than ever. Dave Sarkar reviewed Yorkshire Gritstone Volume 1 a while back, shortly after it’s release. In my opinion this is an awesome guide to half of an equally awesome area of crags.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a (hot off the press) copy of Yorkshire Gritstone Volume 2. I remember reading a comment on that social media swallower of time, Facebook, (from somebody who called himself “Cosmic Spacedog”). CS basically congratulated the writing team of both volumes but stated quite clearly that, whilst Volume 1 was good, Volume 2 simply pissed all over it! I thought I’d leave this judgement to myself, but to be honest, it wasn’t long before I also decided, that Volume 2 is pretty special as well.
So what’s so good? Well going back to my earlier analogy about a guidebook being inspiring; this is an inspiring guidebook. I’ve lived in Yorkshire since the mid 2000s and climbed here since the mid Nineties. Despite having climbed quite a lot of route’s and boulder problems on Yorkshire grit over the years, it’s no secret that gritstone isn’t my favourite medium to climb on and I’d definitely lost enthusiasm for the local crags over the last two or three years. These new books have changed all that. Particularly Volume 2. It has brought the area to life, making it look and sound as good as it actually is! Crags and routes I knew well and some I didn’t know existed!
Yeah first and foremost a guidebook needs to be accurate. It needs to be clear and easy to use. Good maps, topos and accurate descriptions that get you where you want to be, simply. Yorkshire Gritstone Volume 2 ticks that box. But when you start thumbing through you realise that there is so much more to it. This book was clearly a labour of love by people who love the area. Hats off to the team, it’s mega!
View some sample pages below:
First of all the photographs are gobsmacking. The photo editors must have had a tough task as I’m sure there were many more that almost made the cut. But this already hefty tome is filled with stunning images of glorious Yorkshire climbing. And does it do the area justice? Absolutely! There’s also a really good balance of great landscapes, classic boulders and hard and easy classics, to make sure that inspiration is there for everyone.
The photo topos are clear and when married up with the sharp descriptions, the whole thing is easy to follow. The clarity starts with the first page, a double spread map of the whole area. I was pleased to see this as it is something that seems to be lacking in many other guidebooks.
I really like the addition of the bouldering circuits as it provides an alternative view of many crags, even for tired locals who think they’ve done it all. One of my favourite parts of this book (both volumes actually) has to be the interviews though. Big names of old and new are included, from Ron and John through to the modern day beasts like Jordan (not that one). Like I said earlier it’s stuff like this that gets me inspired. It’s great to have all the history and the archive images in there too. It doesn’t make for a thin book though or a light one…but who cares!
So you’re probably getting the impression that I love this guidebook and I do. It oozes class, it oozes effort and a love of the area and it oozes inspiration. It’s big, bold and beautiful, just like some of the best lines on Yorkshire grit. If you’ve not got one yet, better put it on your Christmas list. It’s cold and crisp outside, perfect conditions to put it into use. The only question that remains for me is, when is Yorkshire limestone getting the same treatment? Must be time to crack on boys 😉