Page 24 - 2016 AMA Autumn
P. 24

                                BookReviews By Tomo Thompson
The book shelves creaked when this lot arrived from Vertebrate. Some very big books this time round...
Mark Vallance
Amongst gear geeks the story is almost biblical, Ray Jardine carrying his prototype ‘sliding cam’ round in a blue nylon bag, and having secretive discussions with Mark Vallance about manufacturing his new invention that, to fend off the prototype copying hounds of the climbing industry, he
called his ‘friends’. And so the name stuck. An apt name
it is too if, with disco leg and pumped arms, you’re desperate to cram some protection in to a parallel crack or break.
Succinctly this is a book about the bloke that made the bit of hardware that revolutionised rock climbing. But it’s so much more than that. Explorer, engineer, visionary, 8000m summiteer, businessman, Parkinsons disease sufferer, legend.
British climbing has a rich vein of real characters who often brought much more than just challenging first ascents to the table, and Vallance is up there amongst the best. A really good book.
Am I allowed to confess that apart from hearing his name occasionally mentioned in the same sentence as the likes of Brown, Whillans, Scott and Bonnington, I knew very little about him. I have started listening through the back catalogue of a (highly recommended) podcast called ‘JamCrack’ by the author / speaker / climber Niall Grimes, and one of the episodes was an interview with Boysen. He struck me as having had at least one hand hold on many many things that happened in British climbing for no less than 55 years. That podcast was excellent and this book is even better. An unusual childhood, and the cutting of his climbing teeth on the sandstone outcrops of Harrison’s et al, and the great shenanigans and exploits of varied climbing groups and clubs through the sixties and seventies.
The pages between the chapters in the book contain guide book descriptions of many of the new routes that Boysen put up. The book is very well written, entertaining to read and offers a different perspective on many of the important events of British climbing over the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s from the discovery and first routes at Gogarth, to the first ascent of the South face of Annapurna, and a lifetime of climbing in between. Boysen has been writing this book, by his own account, ‘on and off for thirty odd years’, and it’s a damn good book he has finally finished.
Jon Griffith. Foreword by some bloke called Ueli Steck
Essentially this is a portfolio of the best work of one of the best mountain sports photographers in the world. A book that in both content and construction is simply wonderful. Griffiths is the photographer of choice for a raft of the major brands and athletes in the vertical mountain sports

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