Guidebook: Mallorca Rockfax
Mallorca is probably the foreign climbing destination I have been to most. Actually, that accolade has to go to Fontainebleau, but Font is so familiar now that it almost doesn't feel like a foreign trip any more.
Having been to Mallorca in virtually every month of the year I can honestly say it's a fantastic place. The climbing is brilliant. The climate is lovely (whatever time of year). The people are friendly. The geography is stunning and the food is delicious.
So what of the new guide? My last few trips to the island have been for deep water soloing rather than the more popular sport climbing. I'm really happy to report that this guide, for the first time, includes all the sport crags and also all the DWS crags in the same book. Hooray! It's not akin to a BMC definitive guide whereby every route is listed. Rockfax don't normally take that approach, usually providing a comprehensive and detailed list of the best routes instead (exceptions are definitive guides to North Wales Limestone, Clwyd Limestone and Lofoten Islands which won the best guidebook of the year at the Banff Mountain Book Festival). One thing that is not covered is bouldering. I think it's a shame that there isn't even a mention of it as I am confident that there is some worthwhile bouldering somewhere on the island. Clearly there isn't much as there is no dedicated guide to the discipline, but some reference would have been good. A quick Google shows that there is some. Whilst searching for references to bouldering I found a list of other guidebooks to the island on page 28 and noticed a book called Easy Bloc which is apparently a 'small guide to low-grade DWS in the south west coast, suitable for beginners. I'd be interested to know whether all of these crags are included in the new Rockfax guide as I regularly find myself trying to convince non DWS aficionados of its merits and some easier crags would be a useful means of persuasion!
It's obviously Rockfax's biggest guide to the island yet - a whopping 304 pages. Disappointingly for anybody with any of the previous 5 Rockfax guides in their possession, there doesn't appear to be a listing of which crags are new to the book, or how many routes there are compared to previous editions.(Response from Alan James of Rockfax: Crags list is online here - http://www.rockfax.com/publications/books/item.php?id=181 (new crags in bold). I have added a new section on that page with What's New (good point you made). Thanks Alan!). Of course the colour photo topos and route descriptions will be more up to date, taken with better cameras etc, so the guide, as has been the case with every Rockfax guide I've used to date, will be better than its predecessor.
I love the front cover. What more can one ask for from a guidebook cover. Climber poised on a good looking route. Sun-kissed rock. Turquoise sea in the background, and the hint of a beach.
It's incredibly easy to navigate - a strong characteristic of all Rockfax guides that is so sadly lacking, yet so vitally important, in many others. There is a concise map of the island inside the back cover, with clear and unambiguous instructions as to where the crags are (colour coded for sport climbing and DWS), with references to larger scale maps on the internal pages. To make things easier still, the now-standard tabs are evident on the front and back edge of every page in the book, making it a doddle to find at least the major crags.
There are summary tables for each crag detailing everything you might need to know before going there - no of routes across the grade range, aspect, business, time to walk in etc etc. All in all, a very easy to use guide.
One curious omission is the reference to camping on the island. A few summers ago we went for a DWS trip and camped in a delightful, if a little rocky, campsite near Cales De Mallorca called Hippocampo, which I can highly recommend.
The guide retails at £24.95. If you think of in terms of two guides - one to sport climbing and one to deep water soloing then this is an absolute bargain. Well done Rockfax. You can buy it here.