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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Stanage: The Definitive Guide

Review by planetFear
Tuesday 5th June 2007

If I were ever on the climbing equivalent of Desert Island Disks and had to pick a crag for my island to live out the rest of my life it would have to be Stanage, with the overhanging buttresses above turquoise seas, and a cool breeze keeping the friction manageable in the tropical sun! Seriously, it’s a truly world class crag. As such, in the ten years since I started climbing on it it has seen 5 new guidebooks! I have 7 guides on my shelf for the place including the new one! I can’t think of any other crags that can boast numbers like that.

So what’s this latest version like and was it really necessary? Awesome and yes. Why so good? It’s not only a culmination of years of collective guidebook production in the climbing world, but also the development and maturing of Niall Grimes as BMC guidebook officer. Dealing with this first point first, I can factually say that modern British climbing guidebooks are the best guidebooks I have ever used, not just better than most overseas equivalents, but also better than those produced for any other sport or pastime. Since the BMC employed Niall their guidebooks have gone from strength to strength. It’s refreshing to see our membership subs being used so well!

It’s a step away from the normal BMC branding: blue spine with red, yellow or white text. This guide has a distinct brown-ness to it, reflecting I suppose, the colour of the rock it describes. The front cover is a stunning image of Adam Long soloing Don (E4 5c) beneath a beautiful blue sky. The image wraps around onto the spine to give a little life to this aspect of the guide which will spend the vast majority of its life on public view on bookshelves around the world. It is a precursor of things to come – the images are without exception inspiring, good quality and well labelled. There are a mix of routes and boulders with a smattering of artsy contextuals for good measure. Probably the biggest improvement from the previous guide (2002) is the decision to describe the crag from left to right in line with most guides on the planet! Phew. Like its predecessor it only includes the actual crag of Stanage, with no outlying buttresses thrown in for good measure – not many crags can boast an entire guide to themselves. Also like its predecessor it is a definitive guide, featuring boulder problems as well as routes. However it differs so vastly from the last one that comparisons are of little use.

Features I particularly liked include:
A smattering of double page images that bring the crag to life and also show descent routes.
Favourite Five’s: a bunch of tick lists compiled by various climbing stars
Bouldering circuits
Large format – nobody really needs to carry the guide in their pocket on 10m routes!
Photo topos
Plenty of anecdotes
The images

Areas for improvement:
A more comprehensive index of routes listing page number for respective photos
I’d prefer to see the first ascent details next to the route as well as listed chronologically at the end
Not a lot else!

Priced at £18.95, it includes 1300 routes from Mod to E8, 400 boulder problems from V0 to V13, 140 colour photos, 5 font style circuits, 200 colour topo’s and more – well worth the money!

One of the great guides.

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