Lake District Winter Climbs Guidebook


Title: Lake District Winter Climbs - Snow, ice and mixed climbs in the English Lake District
Author: Brian Davidson
Publisher: Fell and Rock Climb Club (FRCC) & Cicerone Press - 2006
Price: £17.95

Review of latest version of the Lakes Winter Climbs guidebook by the FRCC and Cicerone Press


© Cicerone/FRCC

Many climbers will be aware of the old thin(ish) winter climbing guide to the Lake District with photos that seemed to be taken in the 1970’s. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this, combined with the lean winters of recent years have led most people to believe that winter climbing has long since died out in the Lakes and can only be found in Scotland or further afield in Scandinavia and Alpine ice falls. How wrong they were!

Cicerone, in conjunction with the Fell Rock Climbing Club (FRCC) have just published a new version of the guidebook, over twice as thick and bursting at the seams with winter routes available in the Lakes. In fact the book claims that it is a definitive guide with details of every known winter climb from every part of the Lakes. With nearly a 1,000 routes, including a handful from outlying areas such as the Howgills and the Northern Pennines it is hard to disagree.

All routes are grouped in the same logical manner used by existing FRCC guides (by valley), with the pages in each section easily identified by a colour coded tab. The photography has been brought bang up to date with new photographs throughout the book. The topos have also been updated with photographic topos of all the crags making it easy to identify the right line, weather depending obviously.

© Cicerone/FRCC, Dec 2006

This is the first time Cicerone and FRCC have partnered up in producing a guidebook but this has not affected the quality. Think Alan Kimber’s brilliant Winter Climbs - Ben Nevis & Glen Coe (also published by Cicerone) combined with the FRCC’s hugely successful Selected Rock Climbs in the Lake District and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this book.

Route descriptions are brief but then this is the case with most winter guidebooks. What more can you say than “the gully on the right hand side of the crag” for such obvious lines? I loved the drawn topos FRCC used in their selected rock climbing guidebook and was disappointed a similar style had not been used in the new Winter guide. That said the photographic topos are excellent with all major routes clearly defined and it would be difficult not to find a route.

A nice touch for the armchair mountaineer or those home bound by warm weather is the 70 page section at the back of the book detailing all the first ascents. Not some boring list with names and dates here, rather exerts from visitor books, FRCC and Alpine Journals from the 1800’s to give you an idea of how it was in the real old days. Original black and white photos of first ascentionists on the route add to the history and the photo of a lady in a long dress and hat topping out of Deep Ghyl on Scafell has to be seen to be believed.

© Cicerone/FRCC, Dec 2006

All in all this is an excellent guidebook, demonstrating that there is much more to winter climbing in the Lakes than the popular locations on Helvellyn and Great End. It will certainly wet the appetite of a winter climber waiting for the weather to turn and is a must for any winter climbers’ bookshelf and rucksack.

The guidebook can be purchased directly from Cicerone for £17.95.

Review written by Giles Thurston on January 01, 2007


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