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Unjustifiable Risk?

The story of British climbing as told by Simon Thompson

by Gareth Rowson



Simon Thompson's Unjustifiable Risk?


The story of the social, economic and cultural conditions that gave rise to the sport of climbing, and the achievements and motives of the scientists and poets, parsons and anarchists, villains and judges, ascetics and drunks that have shaped its development over the past two hundred years.


A truly impressive collaboration of historic climbing accomplishments and the heroes that made them are distilled down into this very readable and insightful book.

Just how Simon tackled the enormous task of compiling such an exhaustive history spanning two centuries of both rock climbing and mountaineering is beyond me, but this he does with uncanny ability.

As well as covering local interests in The Lake District, North Wales, Scotland and the Outcrops, the book also delves extensively into British exploits in the Alps and The Greater Ranges. Why? Because the British invented the sport and often led the world in doing so.

From the politics of class and culture to the fashions, industrialisation and urbanisation of the times, Unjustifiable Risk probes deep into the British Psyche of mountaineering through the empirical experiences of climbing's big names.

With a bibliography of some 400 references including biographies, articles, interviews and obituaries, it is a truly the comprehensive story of British climbing. This perceptive book will help you to understand more about our willingness to take unjustifiable risks in pursuit of beauty, adventure and self-fulfillment.

Documented photographs are also included of many historic climbers such as Leslie Stephen, Edward Whymper, Frank Walker, William Coolidge, Florence Grove, Fred Mummery, Norman Collie, Martin Conway, Owen Glynne Jones, Fred Botterill, Siegfried Herford, George Mallory, Edward Norton, Colin Kirkus, Eric Shipton, Bill Tilman, Frank Smythe, Joe Brown, John Streetly, John Hunt, Rustie Baillie, Robin Smith, Don Whillans, Dougal Haston, Peter Crew, Ed Drummond, Dave Pearce, Doug Scott, Peter Livesey, Ron Fawcett, Al Rouse, Mick Fowler, Tom Patey, Ian Clough, Dougal Haston, Joe Tasker and Peter Boardman to name but a few.


Finding myself drawn through the ages of climbing with facts, figures, humour and enlightening character profiles, the book reads like a paramount piece of climbing literature, fuelling the obsession of any mountain lover, amateur or professional. I suspect this book will become a staple reference to the history of British climbing for generations to come.

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