by Simon Panton
Published by Ground Up
Reviewed by Karin Magog
After their well received North Wales Select Guide the
Ground Up team rose to the challenge of producing a definitive guidebook to
Gogarth. Since the last Climber’s Club guide to the area in 1990 there has been
much development and although the CC had talked of publishing a new guide for
several years nothing seemed to be happening. It was a big task for the Ground
Up team to take on, in fact so large that they’ve decided to split the area into
two volumes, North and South (the latter being due out later this year).
The guide follows a similar layout to the North Wales guide with each area
receiving a detailed intro which includes the usual headings such as approach
(including a good sketch map), conditions and basic info on aspect,
rock-type,etc. There are also a few paragraphs which offer a general insight
into the nature of the climbing and, like North Wales, a list of all the routes
and their grades, which is particularly useful when you’re skimming through for
ideas on which crag to visit.
The area that I feel this guide has really excelled in though is their use of
photo-topos. These are well-produced and very clear, despite the number of
routes on them. For Main Cliff the crag is covered by several overlapping photos
and with a topo every few pages they are quick and easy to locate. I found the
double-page photo on page 112 particularly stunning. The guide is easy to follow
starting as it does at Holyhead Mountain and moving clockwise (or north) from
there. The crag approaches, such as where to ab, are clearly found in the text
and also shown on the photo diagrams, very useful. There’s also plenty of great
action pictures spread right across the grades, my favourites include the one of
‘A Dream of White Horses’, just look at that exposure – awesome!
As well as the traditional Gogarth cliffs the guide also has details on the less
well-known limestone sport crags along the north coast of Anglesey. In total the
guide details over 500 routes, which is pretty impressive bearing in mind that
this is only volume 1. The guide also sports a very detailed and interesting
introduction on all aspects from access and conservation to the high speed ferry
wake and loose rock. There’s also a good history section at the back which is
split into decades and is illustrated by some great photos.
If I have any criticism of the guide it’s the use of split grades in places.
This is perhaps understandable on some of the harder routes in Wen Zawn that may
not have seen many repeats but surely Mammoth Direct deserves a more assertive
grade than E5/6 6a/b. I know this crag in particular can be condition dependant
but surely adding ‘top-end of the grade’ or ‘soft for the grade’ into the
description may have been a better approach. (Personally I would go for top-end
E5 6b and the same for Mammoth). However, this only applies to a handful of
routes and certainly offers an opportunity for post climbing discussions!
All in all an excellent production, a big well done to all the Ground Up team
and their editor Simon Panton. I’m looking forward to Gogarth South but in the
meanwhile it’s off to Main Cliff this summer.
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