Cleare & Smythe book on Snowdonia

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Messages 1 - 20 of total 21 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 5, 2007 - 05:47pm PT
In the Eldorado thread, Tarbuster asked me about the book that had inspired the outstanding photographs Bob Godfrey and Dudley Chelton took for their landmark 1977 book Climb. Thanks to Tar, the Eldo thread has showcased some of Godfrey and Chelton's best work. I thought it might be of interest to post a few samples from Climb's influential 1966 predecessor, Rock Climbers in Action in Snowdonia. Their book is long out of print, but if a used copy drifts past and you happen to grab it, you won’t be disappointed. Here are just a few samples of Cleare’s photographs (among the first of their kind), and one piece of Smythe’s fine storytelling.









Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 5, 2007 - 06:24pm PT
Oh man I gotta get me some of that British Isles action.
Seems like the birthplace of the whole ball of wax.
"Layback posture" at Tremadoc: how delicious!
Raydog

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Jul 5, 2007 - 06:33pm PT
talk about style - great stuff
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Jul 5, 2007 - 08:38pm PT
Chiloe:
I agree. This was a major, break through publication. I think it was the first book to have pictures of climbers from above, that is looking down on them.
This book excited and inspired many of us, and I think it gave many American rock climbers a model for excellence: the British cragsman.
Interestingly, Robbins brought chockstones (nuts) back from a trip to the UK shortly after this book became available.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 5, 2007 - 11:51pm PT
That was one of my first books, one of the first I loved. I drooled over those pictures. It took years for me to finally get there and do some of those climbs. It was well worth the wait.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jul 6, 2007 - 11:09am PT
This has been one of my favorite rock-climbing books (not sure where my copy wandered off to though). It was fun to actually get to climb some of the North Wales classics on a trip there. In an era where expedition climbing dominated (and still does) "Mountain Literature," this book was years ahead of its time.

In the US, Master of Rock and Climb (and Climbing in NA) were the real groundbreaking books. It is great to see that others (in the US) have finally begun to put pen to paper and produce the more recent and excellent historical rock climbing works.
Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Jul 6, 2007 - 11:20am PT
Did a used book search (a few actually). You can get a fair condition copy for around $100. If you want excellent condition, plan on $400.

Prod
E.L. "One"

Big Wall climber
Lancaster, California
Jul 6, 2007 - 11:59am PT
Damn, I happen to own that book. From my British Iles romps many decades ago. Cenotaph Corner was the site of my first leader fall. I remember feeling very good about myself after finally leading it!! Anyway....great pics in that book!

Cracko
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 6, 2007 - 12:05pm PT
The only problems with Climb and Climbing In North America is that they were loaded with errors. Both books were written by individuals who were relatively unfamiliar with their subject and who relied heavily on hearsay, rumor, rivalry B.S., etc. Yet we value them for their photos, if nothing else. I'm sure Climbing in Snowdonia was a much cleaner, more accurate text, written by people right in the middle of things.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jul 6, 2007 - 07:26pm PT
Here is a picture looking down Cenotaph Corner. Did the route with Rob Muir and this American guy we ran into at Llanberis Pass. Don’t remember his name.



Joe Brown did the first ascent in 1952.

“We’ve sung it once, we’ll sing it twice
He’s the hardest man in the Rock and Ice
He’s marvelous—he’s fabulous,
He’s a wonder man is Joe.”

Tom Patey, The Joe Brown Song.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 7, 2007 - 05:53am PT
I always wanted to climb the Corner, never got around to that UK climbing trip. It's still on my "someday" list.

Wootles posted a more recent snapshot of Joe Brown (with Andy & Paul Ross) in the random fotos thread. Maybe he'll fill in the story.

rmuir

Social climber
the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Jul 7, 2007 - 10:10am PT
Those John Cleare photos always stirred the blood. Rick Accomazzo, Gib Lewis and I did another one of the Joe Brown classics, Vector. Here's a photo from the book:



The book has an accompanying set of photographer notes with some wonderful write-ups of each of the included photos. For this image, he notes:

38. Vector, Craig Bwlch y Moch.
One of the great routes of Snowdonia and not just a Tremadoc climb. Every pitch is hard, the stances are small and the way upwards breaks through impossible-looking overhangs. Vector is one of Brown's masterpieces and is now climbed fairly often, although nearly as many leaders fall off it. In the photograph the leader has just broken through the lower line of overhangs and is steeling himself to approach the upper bit where the route engages with an overhanging groove--the place where many have fallen.

I have always liked Cleare's notes in the book, wherein he made no apologies for tilting his pictures to better help communicate what "the climber experiences". (Of course, it's hard to tilt this Vector shot.)


Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jul 7, 2007 - 10:23am PT
Rob, here's a shot-- that I think you took-- of me on Vector. The sense of history on that route was palpable.

Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 7, 2007 - 12:01pm PT
PhilG:
I think it was the first book to have pictures of climbers from above, that is looking down on them.

The picture below was particularly striking to me at the time, because I hadn't seen another one like it. The perspective has become commonplace since then, but Cleare was showing something new.



From the write-up describing this photo:
"A remarkable photographic composition, which has a strong affinity in ingredients to certain forms of modern art."
dirtbagger

Ice climber
Australia
Aug 8, 2007 - 04:47am PT
just got a copy the book! very very nice!
but then the poms (people living in blighty) have always done things well in the past ;-)

Need to get back to Llamberis pass, so many classic routes still be to ticked! *sight* and only 1 life time available!

dirtbagger

Ice climber
Australia
Aug 8, 2007 - 04:47am PT
just got my copy of the book! very very nice!
but then the poms (people living in blighty) have always done things well in the past ;-)

Need to get back to Llamberis pass, so many classic routes still be to ticked! *sight* and only 1 life time available!

Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Aug 8, 2007 - 05:52am PT
I too have always had the Corner on my tick list. I meant to do it when I lived in north Wales (Tregarth, a small, and I mean small, village 7km outside of Bangor).

I did do some stuff at Llanberis Pass and in Snowdonia with my ex-fiancee back then.

Now that I am getting back in shape, and am about 1-1/2 hours ferry ride to Holyhead, and hour-and-a-half bus ride to Bangor from Holyhead (or hook up with some climbers in a car), I am going to try and get the Corner done before next summer (and The Dream of White Horses at Gogarth).
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 8, 2007 - 07:33am PT
Another classic photo from this collection-worthy book.



rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Aug 8, 2007 - 08:00am PT
A wonderful book I happy to have whose pictures have stood the test of time.

The book came out at a time in American climbing when the focus was on aid climbing on big walls, and reminded us that there was still plenty of adventure to be had on crags as well.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 9, 2007 - 05:07am PT
Years before The Black Cliff came out, Smythe's stories (like Cleare's photo above) vividly conveyed the atmosphere around the big routes on Clogwyn du'r Arddu in those days.

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