{CRRef YRC Committee. (1913) Reviews. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 4 Number 13: pp196-201. Leeds: YRC.)


Kulu And Lahoul.
By Lt.-Col. The Hon. C. G. Bruce, M.V.O.

(London: Edward Arnold. 1914. pp. xii. and 307.)

Col. Bruce has made many expeditions in the Himalaya, "some," he says, "serious, some not serious enough; some aimed at achieving great height; some aimed at the exploration of a great mountain or mountain group. But in nearly every case there was that most annoying thing, an object in view, always looming before me and destroying pleasure" - and so he runs on in the true British spirit of self-depreciation. We fancy, however, that his many companions, who have owed so much to his help and knowledge of the country, would put his services much higher. At any rate, in this well-written, well-illustrated volume, he tells of a glorious seven months' holiday - think of it, you whose "grindstone" allows a bare fortnight or three weeks - in the, for India, comparatively humble districts of Lahoul and Kulu, a mountainous country lying north of Simla. His wife accompanied him and contributes a charming chapter from a lady's point of view. He had also Heinrich Führer as guide, and, for part of the time, Capt. Todd, a nephew, of our Ex-president Slingsby, and between them they did some big climbs, though the author was hors de combat for some time through an unlucky slip on rough ground.

The mountaineering tales are all interesting, and not less so the intimate sketches of native life, the glimpses of missionary and colonizing efforts and the quaint folk-lore stories. Altogether, a modest, informing and enticing book of mountain travel. O si sic omnes!

Switzerland In Snow And Sunshine.
By Edmund B. D'Auvergne.

(London: T. Werner Laurie. 1914. pp. viii. and 307.)

It is good for climbers to be reminded at times that Switzerland is not co-terminous with his playground among the snow and ice, and that it holds, also, cities and lowlands, less majestic and inaccessible, but by that very fact more attractive to the lover of the quieter appeals of nature and of the human interest, which, as Leslie Stephen pointed out, make the Alps superior in attractiveness to other mountain ranges. And in Mr. D'Auvergne the charms of cities like Berne, Neuchatel, Lausanne and Lucerne have found a loving and light-handed historian. For the solid facts of Swiss history we should go rather to Mr. Coolidge and his foreign compeers, but the holiday reader will find in this work quite enough to inform him of the tangled history of the various members of the Swiss Confederation and to set him in the way for acquiring more. Nor will he be the worse for hearing of the less-known, but always pleasant, places like Appenzell, Baden and Glarus. Except for short articles on Guides and the Marjelen See the author never takes us near the glacier world, but he has a chapter on the new-found joys of Winter Sport, and right through he keeps us amused with a constant flow of good humour and apt comment.

The photographic illustrations are novel and good.

Walks And Scrambles In The Highlands.
By Arthur L. Bagley.

(London: Skeffington & Son. 1914. pp. vii. and 204.)

Scotland, from the climber's point of view, is a country of magnificent distances, and in these days of motor-mountaineering it is refreshing to read of anyone attempting it on foot. This the author has done, in parts, and his descriptions, always cheery, convey an excellent idea of his experiences in the Cairngorms and Skye and in other more remote, or more strictly "preserved" districts. Of climbing, he does not profess to know anything, and, indeed, his experiments on Skye peaks, made alone, might easily have got him into difficulties - or worse. But he makes good stories out of his walks through deer forests like Glen Affric and Assynt, and shows up clearly "the barrenness of the land" when under deer. We do not always realize that there are large areas in Scotland with a less population than any of similar size in the Alps. There are some excellent photographs.

Rambles In Norway.
By Harold Simpson.

(London: Mills & Boon. pp. xii. and 242. 6s. net.)

Of the three usual ways of seeing Norway - from a "pleasure-yacht," by the ordinary steamer and carriage roads, and on foot among the "fjelds" - the author chooses the second, and we heartily commend his work to any who would do likewise. They will not taste the charm of Turtegrô or Rujsheim, or of chalet huts like Memuruboden, but they will see all the beautiful places that all their friends have seen, and will be able to join with him and them, if they have been lucky in the weather, in extolling the singular charm of that pleasant land. Let us hope that they will imitate the author in his ready deference to the customs of the country and his courtesy to its well-bred people.

There are some very good photographs and coloured plates.

Some Gritstone Climbs.
By John Laycock, B.A.

(Manchester: Refuge Printing Department. 1913.)

"Majores majora canant." Mr. Laycock has modelled this unpretentious little volume somewhat on the lines of "Climbs on Lliwedd" and "Climbing in the Ogwen District," and is, I think, to be congratulated on his effort. In one respect he is entitled to unqualified approbation: he has not sinned the sin of understating difficulties. Many average climbers would have set aside the Three Chockstone Chimney on Almes Cliff as very easy, the Pine Tree Gully on Black Rocks as moderately difficult and the Fluted Pillars, Almes Cliff, as difficult. Mr. Laycock quite properly describes them as moderately easy, difficult, and decidedly difficult. In fact, his classification of the climbs with which I am acquainted may be accepted, albeit I am inclined to regard the few stiff feet of the Long Chimney on Almes Cliff as decidedly difficult, at any rate, to a long-legged man.

This moderation is specially creditable to a climber of Mr. Laycock's powers. It was written of the mass of rock overhanging Rock Hall (Staffordshire Roaches) that "we shall never be equal to it until our constitution has been reconstructed on the angelic plan." The last time I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Laycock I noticed no such structural alterations of his anatomy, and yet, I understand, he had accomplished the climb.

Before leaving Almes Cliff, I submit that Mr. Laycock would have been well advised to have relegated the Nose, et hoc genus omne to the ranks of the hundred odd climbs not described. The difficult Bird's Nest and Chimney are genuine climbs - the others are merely fancy gymnastics. Mr. Ashley Abraham writes: "Most will agree that if these difficult places . . . could be brought into one's back-garden, where the ground is soft and conveniently near, they would lose most of their terror." The nearness of the ground is the excuse for these climbs. It is to be hoped they would never be attempted at any considerable altitude. For the information of those unacquainted with the Nose, I may explain that the chief difficulty resembles nothing so much as climbing on to a chimney-piece out of a fireplace, using the back of the grate to kick off from. At a crucial point the body is sustained by the arm wedged horizontally. Of course, in the event of any sudden strain in this position, something is bound to go - and it will not be the rock.

Incidentally, Parson's Climb should read Parsons' Climb. It is named after Mr. W. Parsons, President of the Yorkshire Ramblers' Club.

Mr. Laycock locates Almes Cliff with commendable lucidity, indicating its proximity to Leeds and Harrogate. It is to be wished he had adopted this principle throughout. For all the book tells us, Helsby is nowhere near anywhere, and we are left to the tender mercies of Bradshaw - which way exasperation lies. Such omissions seriously detract from the value of the book. For instance, a climber might easily find himself stranded, say, at Buxton, and go away quite unaware that the Black Rocks, Cratcliffe Tor, Robin Hood's Stride, Castle Naze and the Brassington and Harborough Dolomites are all within reasonable distance.

There is some confusion as to the title of the book; on the outside and on the fly-leaf it is called "Some Gritstone Climbs," and on the title page "Some Shorter Climbs."

The photographs throughout are interesting and the plans of Almes Cliff, Brassington and Kinder Scout should prove most useful to strangers to the crags.

It must have required considerable nerve to adventure a volume which was assuredly liable to be dismissed by a percentage of mountaineers as a Baby Book on Toy Climbs. Nevertheless, it is to be regretted that Mr. Laycock should have commented on the hindrance and discouragement he received. A book should be its own vindication, and it may fairly be said that this volume fulfils this condition. Moreover, Mr. Laycock may console himself with the assurance that he has abundantly proved himself to be "a true-souled climber, who can enjoy a tough bit of rock, even if it is only fifty, aye, or twenty feet high."

The book, as its title indicates, is not comprehensive, and leaves untouched many delightful playgrounds. It is to be hoped that Mr. Laycock may someday present us with a sister volume. Besides the better-known crags, e.g., Simon Seat, Ilkley, Stanage Edge and Wharncliffe (when accessible), there is an abundance of good work to be found in Northumberland, and also passim [recurring frequently or here and there] among the Pennines.

C. E. B.

Odd Yarns of English Lakeland.
By Wm. T. Palmer.

(London: Skeffington & Son. 1914. pp. vii. and 160.)

It is well to be reminded sometimes that there has been a Lakeland before the Climber and tourist - or even the Lake poets - discovered it, and that, as Mrs. Humphrey Ward reminds us in a charming preface: "If we would feel its full spell we must 'put off' ourselves as we enter it and 'put on' its native life." This Mr. Palmer, well known to us as the Editor of the Fell and Rock Club Joumal, does in a string of yarns full of local colour and information. Some are of old customs and festivals and superstitious, now dying or dead, and for that reason worthy of record; others, of the ways of life in the last generation and a few of the present. In all of them the local way of speech is given its full value. There is nothing about climbing proper, but the author's conjectural story of Moses' Sledgate and the Smugglers' Cave, on Great Gable, will interest all who have clambered on that side of the mountain. We recommend the book to everyone who loves the country it deals with.

How To Become An Alpinist.
By Frederick Burlingham.

(London: T. Werner Laurie, Ltd. pp. xii. and 218.)

We hardly know what to say about this book. It is certainly, as the author says, "in the interest of everyone concerned, except probably the undertakers, that the few basic rules of mountain climbing should become known generally and put into practice," and he devotes a chapter to some of the best known of them. Most of his advice, especially the need for a guide, is sound, but we hope our countrymen will not follow his recommendation to buy a suit of loden cloth at Zermatt, in Chamonix, or wear trousers and puttees, and we should be sorry to think that on steep snow or ice "the effect of the rope is moral rather than practical, for if one falls, all the others are likely to follow." Nor is it our own experience on turning out of a hut, at 1 a.m., that "the first impression is delicious, one feels like running," but perhaps we are getting old.

Certainly the picture the author draws of crowded centres and huts and rash climbers essaying difficult climbs without knowledge, without guides and even alone - and of the accidents resulting therefrom - makes us glad to have known the Alps when they were still comparatively unspoilt and to be jealous of disclosing those parts still unknown to the "Alpinist." His stories of guides and their methods are interesting and instructive, and we are glad to learn that the brown stains on the snow, which we always associate with those gentlemen, are not bestowed haphazard, but serve as indications to those who follow, of their movements. Truly, as he says: "The Theory of Alpinism comes not by asking questions, but by observation, and only after long experience."

His accounts of cinematographing Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn are interesting records of this - surely the last - insult, and Rock Climbing in the Clochetons de Plan Praz and The Red Needles are valuable contributions to our knowledge of the rock climbs at the back of the Brévent.

The photographs are numerous and interesting, especially those of the now numerous band of lady climbers.