Thursday, 8 April 2010

Early history of British rock climbing

Footless Crow features a fascinating account from George Abraham of a 1913 mysterious rock-climbing route in North Wales which only recently came to light. George, and his brother Ashley, were photographers whose work provided a unique record of the early history of British rock climbing. But as the blog reports:

"Although the brothers are best known for their photographic work, they were very much mountaineers and pioneers in the true sense of the word. Establishing new climbs and revisiting established climbs which were detailed in their well regarded and illustrated books. After their co-operation with the legendary OG Jones for his very successful Rock Climbing in the English Lake District (1897), they produced companion volumes, Rock Climbing in North Wales (George, in 1906) and Rock Climbing in Skye (Ashley, in 1907)."

This period at the beginning of the 20th Century provided a rich seam of archive material for The Guardian Book of Mountains. At the time, the paper was something of a clearing house for new rock climbing developments and regularly featured news and features about the Lake District and North Wales, as well as the Alps, Norway, and further afield. There were a number of reasons for this, but having mountain-lovers on its staff certainly helped. One in particular was CE Montague, a leader writer and essayist, who worked for the Manchester Guardian from 1890-1925.

For a detailed examination of Montague and this period, I'd recommend this article by Jonathan Westaway.

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