Presumptuous Pinnacle Ladies
In nineteen hundred and twenty-three
They swarmed on the rocks from cairn to scree.
If you dodged them there, you met them at tea,
Those parlous Pinnacle ladies!
In nineteen hundred and twenty-four,
We found them leading climbs galore.
We growled, we groused, we even swore!
Presumptuous Pinnacle ladies!
There’s a handful of books by women climbers that I turn to when I’m in need of inspiration or reassurance before heading into the mountains: things like High Infatuation by Steph Davis, and more recently Waymaking. (I’ve also got an incredible women’s alpine history book which I really love, but helpfully can’t remember the title of and my books are all still in boxes after moving house…)
Anyway, this is definitely a title that I’m going to be adding to that collection. The Pinnacle Club is a club for UK women climbers, and I was lucky enough to spend last week on their centenary meet – one hundred women all psyched for some brilliant trad routes around Snowdonia. I was delighted to find a copy of this book in my goody bag, and it made for perfect rest day reading.
Outlandish by Nick Hunt
This book is about places like that. Places that transport. Portals.
I am […] trespassing in another world, a world that does not belong to me. It is the same realisation I had seeing the miniature reefs of ice high on the Cairngorm plateau: there are things happening here that have nothing to do with people.
Outlandish is a book about misplaced landscapes, parts of the world found in the wrong part of the world. I was hooked the moment I read the blurb – I’m always fascinated by writing that manages to make the familiar strange, capturing new and uncanny strands in places we thought we already knew. Outlandish does this so very well, wandering between Scotland, Poland, Spain and Hungary in search of environments that feel out of place: Arctic tundra in Scotland, primeval forest in Poland, desert in Spain and grassland steppes in Hungary. The places seem to exist as a glimpse of the past, deep time lingering into the present, echoing with a warning for the future.
Wanderland by Jini Reddy
The lure of the magical is hard to resist.
I really, really loved Wanderland. It’s gentle, honest and full of hope - just a joy to read. Jini Reddy gives an open and authentic account of her journey to find connection with the land, exploring new and hidden places around the UK. It feels like a really special book in its warmth and authenticity, and I’ve found it pretty tricky to write a review that captures any part of this; I would really just recommend reading it yourself if it sounds even remotely like the sort of book you’d enjoy.
Statement is a lovely biography: it’s personal, easy to read, and gives a close and compassionate view of Ben’s character and climbing. Douglas gives us some fascinating insights into other top climbers, and into the relationship between Ben and Jerry Moffatt – it’s interesting to compare the different abilities and mindsets of two climbers both operating right at the top level of the sport, and to see how they inspired and motivated each other.
Tops of the North is a delightful and esoteric romp across the north that never takes you quite where you expect it to.
If climbing is speaking a fluent body language,/ yesterday was all Greek/ to me …
I really loved this book, but it feels impossible to be sure anyone else would enjoy it. It’s certainly unique; I can’t really think of anything else similar to compare it to. Poetry is interspersed with deeply personal memoir, out of order and occasionally out of sense. It’s an eclectic collection and I found myself never quite sure what I might be about to read next.
I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to read The Climbing Bible and not become a better climber. I was really impressed by how comprehensive and accessible this manual is, thoroughly covering the physical side of training, but also with in-depth sections on technique, mental training and tactics for a successful send.
‘Lie Kill Walk Away’ is a teen thriller, so slightly outside my usual review sphere, but I read (and reviewed) it when I was working as a literacy teacher in a secondary school. I thought it was an enthralling read. It’s a bold story about the importance of family and the pain of absent mothers, about unthinkable decisions and the difficulties of loyalty when your choice will inevitably lead to someone getting hurt.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve run many of the routes in this book and really enjoyed them all. I find it so easy to get stuck running the same local routes, so this guide has been brilliant for inspiration to try something different. The routes range from 5km to 17.5km, spanning the width of the Brecon Beacons and venturing as far north as the Begwns, and there’s a good mix of mountain routes or gentler lower options.
I first read this a couple of years ago now; I loved it and I still think about it all the time. I really can't recommend it enough, particularly if you're a woman spending a lot of time outdoors and feeling quite alone in it.
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.