The Cult Classic Bible of Rock Climbing, Buildering & Extreme Sports
“It’s an adrenaline rush that could cost them everything.”
“As you pass round each pillar, the whole of your body except your hands and feet are over black emptiness. Your feet are on slabs of stone sloping downwards and outwards at an angle of about thirty-five degrees to the horizontal, your fingers and elbows making the most of a friction-hold against a vertical pillar, and the ground is precisely one hundred feet directly below you.
If you slip, you will still have three seconds to live.”
Urban climbing, 1930s style
The Night Climbers of Cambridge was first published in October 1937. Authored under the pseudonym Whipplesnaith it recounts the courageous (or foolhardy) nocturnal exploits of a group of students climbing the ancient university and town buildings of Cambridge. These daring stegophilic feats were recorded with prehistoric photographic paraphernalia carried aloft over battlements, up chimneys and down drain-pipes. The climbers all this while trying, with mixed results, to avoid detection by the 'Minions of Authority': university proctors, Bulldogs and, of course, the local 'Roberts' (police).
The result is a fascinating, humorous and, at times, adrenalin-inducing adventure providing a rare glimpse into a side of Cambridge that has always been enshrouded by darkness. The tradition, known now as urban climbing, buildering, structuring or stegophily is followed all over the world.
This edition features the complete text and over seventy digitally re-mastered images, half of which have been reproduced from the original negatives.
Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Free Climbing - this book has, over the last 80 years, inspired many to take up these and other extreme sports. Read it and be inspired too!
Newspaper, Magazine and Climbing Reviews
The Times (London):
“A near-legendary guide, The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a lot more than a guide for climbing the colleges”
The Guardian (London):
“Whipplesnaith's stories of death-defying derring-do in Cambridge say a lot. This book is also a wonderful evocation of a lost generation.”
“Climbers have been climbing man-made structures since the 19th Century (if not before) and still are, even if your name isn't Alain Robert. The seminal volume about this art, was The Night Climbers of Cambridge.”
The Daily Telegraph (London):
“What an endearing book is The Night Climbers of Cambridge. All the more reason then to applaud the derring do, if not foolhardiness, of the proto-Edmund Hillarys whose exploits are described with precision and relish.”
“Arguably the best, and certainly one of the earliest, buildering guidebooks to come out is the 1937: The Night Climbers of Cambridge, by Whipplesnaith”
The Sunday Times (London):
“There is a secretive and reckless club that has existed for over 100 years. And when night falls in Cambridge, its members can be seen scrambling up the spires and flying buttresses of the university. It’s an adrenaline rush that could cost them everything.”
“It is the climber’s ideal to leave ‘no trace where he has been’. What he does at night is to weave intangible anarchy.”
About the Author
Whipplesnaith was the pseudonym for Noel H. Symington, a recent graduate of the University. He worked with as many as 15 other students to create this incredible record in the autumn of 1936. Many climbed, some were camera-men, all helped silently lug the apparatus around in the dead of night.
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