" A battered, patched up and well loved guidebook really is a sight to behold"
My eye flicks across the page and all too soon I am transported there; the smell of greasy, salty rock filling my nostrils mixing with a rising panic bought on by a lack of obvious protection and pumped forearms. I feel myself sketching around desperately hoping for a better hold or good gear placement, all being played out to the crashing of waves - a soundtrack I rarely find calming.
Snapping back to reality, my heart is pounding and my palms sweaty - they say a picture can paint a thousand words but how can a topo to a crag I've never visited conjure up such feelings?
I am at once fearful but also intrigued - what is Ghost Ship really like??
As well as the more soulful aspects of climbing (the places, the people, and the feelings) guidebooks are - embarrassingly - one of my favourite things. I think it stems from having always been a nerdy bookworm, except guidebooks are a step up from books as YOU can interact with them - writing your own story, and then unconsciously storing memories within them.
A battered, patched-up, well-loved guidebook really is a sight to behold, each scuff, each creased or torn page proof of countless hours of faithful service. A tome devoted to guiding you through the best hours of your life. I've even used mine to give me an extra bit of reach or to keep my boots dry on occasion.
Equally, a new guidebook holds the excitement of crags new, rock untouched and vistas unseen. A new guidebook is full of promise.
Perfect for dipping into for a quick bit of inspiration, guidebooks are dotted around the house I share with another climbing addict and guidebook lover. We always have a healthy stack next to the bog too. It may seem unsanitary, but where else does one get such peace and quiet?
Casting an eye over my guidebook collection, the battered books smile back at me, memories and feelings jumping out at me before I even touch them:
The memory of climbing Shrike and The Axe with Heather last summer is bought back to me as the Cloggy guide holds my attention.
North Wales Rock bombards me with some of the best years of my life. Gogarth, Tremadog, The Pass. Bubbles, Mason, Ben, Rob, Laura, Alex, Gwen, Jimmy. Too much to clarify.
Pembroke, my favourite - I am transported back to hilarious days with Guy climbing perfect routes. More than that, one of them was given to me by Bubbles as a 'thank you' for being best man at his wedding - an honour.
Through Scottish Rock I see some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and feel some of the most perfect on Pabbay & Mingulay.
I smile back at the all the brilliant memories and reach for another guide in which to lose myself in dreaming my way back out onto the crags...
...Ghost Ship was brilliant and very greasy. Fortunately after the slightly bold start there is tons of sinker kit and being a corner it wasn't pumpy - I was half right!