North Wales Bouldering
4th Dec 2017
I can safely say that this is the biggest climbing guide I have yet reviewed. At 668 pages it's a mighty tome that comes with a hefty price tag of £36.95. It may sound expensive, but it's actually cheaper than had the publisher (Ground Up) decided to release it as two separate volumes which would no doubt have both been in the £20 region.
I grew up in the area, and cut my teeth on the cliffs and boulders of Snowdonia. Truth be told I've always been a little frustrated by the previous bouldering guides. This one however raises the bar. The cover photo immediately sets the tone for the rest of the guide. It's packed full of decent, crisp images of the boulders on offer. Though there is a regional map on page 14 it doesn't have page numbers for the area maps referenced which is a missed opportunity. For somebody who doesn't know the area it's necessary to cross reference between the Content table on page 4, and the map on page 14. A little more info on the Content page indicating the scope of each area would also have been useful. All that said, the information is there, but you need to go looking for it.
Each of the 7 areas, has its own section of the book which starts with a map and description. On the maps are the names of the sub areas, each of which then has its own sub section describing the boulders in that area. Again page numbers and scope would have been useful. Once you arrive at your desired area in the book there's a further, more detailed map, with more sub areas. These final 'areas' are then illustrated with very clear topos, a good selection of photos of the problems, grades and descriptions. When you do finally get to the section you want it's brilliant. There are even colour coded tables identifying the scope of each sub area. The maps have a scale (often a bugbear of mine), the sub areas have aspect info, rock type, approach time, altitude, and a grid reference, all essential info for a decent guide.
I've not yet had the chance to head over since getting my hands on the guide, but I've spent a good while browsing it and getting excited about doing so. Who knew that one of the area's best 7A's is walking distance from the house I grew up in? I'll be paying that one a visit, along with some of the other inspiring looking venues that I've previously walked or run past, or simply spied from the road, but never had the incentive to actually visit. There is clearly an awful lot of rock in North Wales, and there's been an awful lot of development taking place to match. I take my hat off to the activists who make the effort and take the time to seek out new boulders and to Si Panton, the author, has done a remarkable job of pulling it all together into a manageable guide.
You can buy the guide online from V12