Scottish climbing book scoops prestigious award
A Scottish climbing book has scooped a top prize in an acclaimed book competition. Chasing the Ephemeral: 50 Routes for a Successful Scottish Winter Season won the Banff Mountain Book Competition Guidebook of the year.
Author Simon Richardson, of Aberdeen, also picked up a prize of £1200 for the book at the awards ceremony on November 2. I wrote about the book and award in my latest Sunday Mail column.
The book awards is part of the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff and includes a range of categories such as Adventure Travel, Mountain Fiction & Poetry, Mountain Literature, Environment & Natural History and Guidebook.
It’s believed to be the first time that a Scottish publisher of outdoor books has won the Guidebook accolade.
Chasing the Ephemeral was met with many great reviews when it was published by Mica Publishing in October 2016.
In the book, Simon selects 50 winter climbing routes suited to specific weather and snow conditions at different points in the season, from the short snowy days of November to the long crisp days of March.
Simon is thrilled to have one the award. He said: “Throughout my climbing life, books have provided inspiration for countless climbing adventures and remain the source for future dreams.
“ It is very pleasing to think that Chasing The Ephemeral is, in turn, now inspiring others.”
He gave credit to Tom Prentice, of the small Scottish company Mica Publishing. Simon said: “Tom persuaded me to write the book in the first place and it was his skill that turned myriad diverse materials into such a fine finished article.
“I also thank the dozens of people who provided photographs and reviewed the text. This book really was a team effort.”
Ian Welsted, one of the 2017 Book Competition judges, said: “Chasing the Ephemeral will get you to 50 classic routes when they are ‘in nick’.
“Full of colour action photos, local lore and essential beta, there is no excuse for missing out on one of the best winter climbing venues on the planet.”
Chasing the Ephemeral
Winter climbing in Scotland is famous the world over but as many outdoors enthusiasts know, the Scottish winter is fickle.
Snow covered mountains can be stripped by warm weather and rain one week, to be replaced by freezing conditions and ice the next.
The constant problem for any winter climber is where to go to get the best conditions, from Ben Nevis to the Cairngorms, or the North West Highlands to Glen Coe.
In Chasing the Ephemeral, Simon offers what could be described it as a “self-help guide” for winter climbers.
Rather than listing Scotland’s 50 best winter climbs, he shows climbers how to analyse what is happening in the mountains so they can make the best judgements.
Simon has been at the forefront the Scottish winter scene for decades yet like many people he was limited by the responsibilities of a job and family.
He tended to climb only on Sundays but still enjoyed a many remarkable winter outings.
Instead of hoping that a route would be in good condition to climb he spent time carefully analysing weather forecasts and conditions for the best choice of destination.
His book describes 50 climbs and highlights 200 others. Here are five favourites.
Silver Threads Among The Gold IV,5
Glen Clova, Angus
Glen Clova has undergone a renaissance in recent years and this climb dates from 2013. Ease of access and close proximity to the major cities, Glen Clova comes into its own when the temperatures are low, but heavy snowfall is swamping the high hills.
Jenga Buttress III,4
Creagan Cha-no, Cairngorms
This excellent early season route was first climbed in 2010 and lies on the north-eastern flanks of Cairn Gorm. A freeze and dusting of snow is all that’s needed and the icing on the cake is that it’s just an hour from the car park. Perfect for a short November day.
Fhidleir’s Nose Direct VII,7
Sgurr an Fhidleir, North-west Highlands
Low altitude and proximity to the sea, means this is a route to weather watch. It’s hard and steep and is usually in condition once every season – the issue is when. If you’re up to the grade and it’s in condition then drop everything and go.
Tower Ridge IV,3
First climbed in winter by Collie, Solly and Collier in 1894, this is a committing 1000m long climb which modern equipment has done little to diminish. A brilliant day out, but not a route to be underestimated. A good mid-season climb when consolidated snow should enable fast progress.
Point Five V,5
An iconic climb and arguably the most celebrated ice gully on the planet. It’s likely to be in best condition about March. You are unlikely to be alone on the route so watch out for falling ice from climbers above you.