Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick


Title: Psychovertical
Author: Andy Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Hutchinson - 2008
Price: £18.99

Andy Kirkpatricks new autobiography, which charts how he broke onto the UK climbing scene and his thirteen day solo climb of Reticent Wall on El Capitan in California


If you were one of those people who have previously attended an Andy Kirkpatrick lecture then you will have experience the roller coaster ride of tears and laughter that follow the climbs he made and the people he has shared these adventures with.  When the press release came on our radar of his first book I have to say it went straight to the top of my “to read” list and I wasn’t disappointed.

Titled Psychovertical it follows a similar vein to the talk of the same title that Andy was giving last year.  Based around his thirteen day solo ascent of Reticent Wall on El Capitan in California, he interlinks chapters of this climb with chapters around his youth and how broke into the UK and alpine climbing scene.

Still the hardest big-wall to be soloed by a Briton, the chapters where he describes is time on Reticent Wall are well written giving you a real insight into the danger he faced and sense of loneliness he feels.  What will amaze many that read the book is inner drive to put himself in harms way, especially seeing as he is a husband and father of two.  Andy seems to be drawn by an inner drive to put man against the mountain and although he feels satisfied once he finishes a route, he soon starts to get itchy feet and wants the next challenge.  Is this a man addicted to adrenaline?

Intertwined between his account of Reticent, Andy takes you on a journey from his early years in North Wales to Hull and onto the Alps and the Greater Ranges.  During this journey you really get an in-depth view of how he grew up and what drew him to these dangerous places.  Although he has touched on elements of this in the past in his shows and articles, you find out far more about his past although I still found it difficult to understand where his drive comes from.

This book is definitely lives up to its promise and at the end of it I was left wanting more.  In fact through out the book I would have loved more detail, such was the delight of Andy’s style of writing but the pace was sufficient to make it a real page turner and once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down.

Andy Kirkpatrick has climbed the hardest routes in the Alps and has mountaineered around the world, including Patagonia in winter.  His film Cold Haul, about his and Ian Parnell’s ascent of the Lafaille Route on the Dru, won first prize at the Graz Festival.  He is a popular climbing journalist and his website receives thousands of hits every month.  Andy lives in Inverness

Psychovertical can be purchased directly from Random House for £18.99.

Review written by Giles Thurston on November 13, 2008


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