Review by Review
Friday 1st January 1999
Did you, or have you ever, wondered about the chances of never coming back from that first Alpine trip? The statistics show if you're planning to visit Chamonix, for instance, you're the second most likely group of people to wind up spending it in a hospital bed or worse. The need for education in Alpinism, an area in which our Continental cousins have an advantage in the fact they have Alps to practise on, is fundamental to reducing the shocking British Alpine casualties. John Barry's excellent Alpine Climbing was a step in the right direction and both the subsidized Jonathan Conville Courses and recent BMC lectures all help to bridge this void of experience, and Peter Cliff's Alpinism is another step in this learning curve.

This book is poles apart from Barry's anecdotal and inspirational Alpine Climbing, being more of a bare bones approach which works well. This is, after all, an instructional guide and the layout is simple and easy to understand, especially if you find it hard absorbing information from books. All the basics are covered with no frills or fillers-in to confuse and is plainly aimed at the novice Alpine 'Climber' or 'Trekker'.

The price seems a little high but by the looks of the book I think that Peter Cliff has done a lot of work in just getting the book published, and at the end of the day it's only the price of a belay plate and, after all, it could be equally as useful at saving your ass. There are a few mistakes, such as the diagram of a overhand knot for joining the abseils being drawn as a tape knot, but otherwise there are no glaring errors.

So if you want to go to the Alps pick this book up and have a look, and give the BMC a ring about getting on a Conville course, get a strong helmet and sense of humour and go have fun. Maybe the BMC could hand the book out on the London to Chamonix bus?

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