North Wales Scrambling
25th Feb 2015
This is a gem of a book. I first saw it on Amazon after a friend had recommended it. Got a copy and am thoroughly impressed. So is my Dad. He lives in Snowdonia, has done for over 40 years, and used to be a mountain instructor so knows the area well. He came to visit recently and spent a good hour browsing the book. The whole hour he was enraptured, peppering the atmosphere with exclamations of joy and surprise. Initially he'd been of the opinion that he knew most, if not all the scrambles in the park, but he quickly ate humble pie, not only finding new routes, but even whole new areas and buttresses.
OK, enough of the platitudes. What's it like a a guide. Firstly I'm impressed by the front cover. Instead of a glossy pic of somebody half way up a scramble the designers have gone for a minimalist matt white cover with a saw-toothed ridge outlined in bold red. It's bold, but effective. Inside there are half page-markers on the front and back covers to help you keep your place whilst out on the hill. It's packed full of inspiring and modern photos to illustrate the variety of routes. There's a section at the start on grades which is essential reading. For example, if you've been up Crib Goch or Tryfan's North Ridge, two of the all time classics, and been a little tense thanks to the exposure, then you'll possibly be disappointed to know that they only merit a 1 on the scale of 0-3. There are obviously a number of scrambles in the guide graded 3, and require ropes, harnesses, and the knowledge and experience to use them properly. Early in the book there's a double page spread showing a map of the whole area with the mountains covered symbolised by small black triangles. Each mountain plays host to its own section in the guide and may host one or more listed scrambles. Sadly there's no cross referencing between the map page and the double page spread a few pages prior which lists the different mountains and their respective scrambles. I don't know why they didn't include the page numbers on the map as there is plenty of room, but this is a small gripe. On the scrambles index each is allocated a number which is coloured Green for 1, blue for 2 and Red for 3 giving you an at-a-glance idea of the seriousness of each mountain / area.
The descriptions themselves are excellent. Each mountain / section starts with a large scale map of the area with approaches and descents indicated, and also usually a photo with white lines showing scrambles (solid) and descents (dotted). The map and photo are accompanied by a nice description of the mountain / area, and then followed by the scrambles themselves. Grid references are given for the start. The aspect, height and approach time are also listed, followed by detailed descriptions, descents, and where applicable, any continuation or linking scrambles.
All in all it's a very well thought out and laid out guide which brings the discipline of scrambling bang up to date.
More details about the book can be found on this website. It costs £20 and can be bought directly from the site.