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Echoes: One Climber's Hard Road to Freedom Hardcover – 3 Sep 2012

12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing; 2012 First Edition edition (3 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906148538
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906148539
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A brilliant page turner from one of our most outstanding adventure mountaineers." (Chris Bonington)" --Chris Bonington

About the Author

Nick Bullock was born on Christmas Day in 1965. After leaving school aged 16 he worked variously as a gamekeeper, a self-employed labourer and at Alton Towers (less exciting than it sounds) before joining Her Majesty's Prison Service in 1987 where he was posted to the high security Gartree Prison as a Wing Officer, then a Punishment Block Officer. In 1992 he was introduced to climbing at Plas-y-Brenin while training as a Physical Education Instructor: his life was about to change dramatically. Devoting all of his free time to climbing, Nick quickly established himself as one of the UK's leading climbers, making bold repeats in fine style of many of the UK's most renowned traditional climbs. A veteran of over 20 expeditions to the greater ranges and approximately 50 Alpine routes, it is in the mountains where Nick has truly demonstrated his imagination and abilities, making significant ascents and failing on some audacious attempts around the world with partners such as Jules Cartwright, Al Powell, Kenton Cool and, more recently, Andy Houseman. In 2003 he quit the prison service and has since devoted his life to climbing, writing and being frugal. An accomplished writer, his work has been published in Alpinist, Climb Magazine, Vertical, UKClimbing.com, The Alpine Club Journal, The American Alpine Journal and more. When not on expedition, Nick lives in Chamonix through the winter and in his van in North Wales through the summer. Echoes is his first book.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Heason on 26 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Echoes has been an interesting book to read. On the one hand I've found it incredibly interesting and enjoyable, but it's also frustrated me at times. A number of years back I met Nick in the bar at Plas Y Brenin whilst on a BMC climbing meet. We spent a very enjoyable hour chatting over a couple of pints. He fascinated me then, and ever since. The life he leads is one that many of us, at some point, surely fancy for ourselves. He is a professional climber and mountaineer, and now writer, with no fixed abode (though he does own a house which he has paid off the mortgage for, and lives off the rental income), moving from one trip to the next, following the weather and a network of friends around the globe to suit his mood. I'm well aware that we are all the masters of our own destiny and can choose what we want to do, but I also believe that it takes a certain sort of person to lead Nick's life. Anyhow, I digress.

As with most autobiographies found Nick's back-story the most interesting part of the book. Something of a mischievous and under-achieving kid he went on to a string of random jobs including working at Alton Towers, and also spending some very unhappy time as a gamekeeper in North Wales. In his early twenties he ended up working as a prison officer, a role he would stick with for over a decade, before taking the plunge as described above. It's his descriptions of prison life, infamous criminals such as Charles Bronson and the Kray Brothers, that I enjoyed most. I've rarely had such an insight into the machinations of our prisons.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By PKay on 15 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'll be frank. The last book about climbing I read was Andy Kirkpatrick's "Cold Wars". I was expecting this to be a first foray into literature that wouldn't be half as good.

It didn't bode well, the start of the book was full of stuff about family and 'beginnings' - stuff which I thought I wasn't interested in, the odd bit of climbing action added, for a seemingly tantalising teaser of what the book was really about.

Before long though, I was aware that I wasn't reading the book just for the climbing bits. These were interesting interludes into the reasons behind the main storyline, the author's escape from a job that is both intriguing and shocking at the same time. The author's descriptions of prison life, the attitudes and fears, the surroundings and personalities, are both detailed and highly readable, a trait they share with the action-filled climbing sections.

Suprisingly then, for a book about someone who has made climbing their life, there isn't much intense climbing action in the first half of the book. However, it is this in-depth investigation into the reasons climbing is now Nick Bullock's primary occupation that makes the book so readable. The parallels drawn between the inmate's obsessions and ability to survive in a state of constant stress and Bullock's approach to training and expeditions that make the book for me.

This, then, is not your usual climbing autobiography. The quality of the writing is first class, and if this first book is to be used as an indicator for subsequent publishings, hopefully the start of a successful literary career for Bullock.

I'll certainly be looking out for more from him in the coming years.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matt B on 24 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Nick's book does way more than describe his climbing adventures (which make for exciting and gripping reading in equal measure).
This book details Nick's motivations, depicts his doubts and fears, and conveys his attitude, style and philosophy with a fascinating degree of honesty and self-awareness.
Brilliant.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alex Roddie on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
'Echoes' is a striking book with an evocative cover photo featuring Nick surmounting a cornice--or so we assume. On reading the photo description we learn he is actually down-climbing the cornice, and I think this crazy image sets the tone for the rest of the book!

The book is described as 'one climber's hard road to freedom'. The concept of freedom, and what this means to different people, is the engine that drives this remarkable story. Nick Bullock's early life is described in engaging detail, and while at first the reader feels impatient to get on with the climbing action, it soon becomes clear how important this build-up is to the story. Just as every character is a sum of his or her experiences, this story depends just as much on Nick's early years as it does his impressive climbs in later life.

As someone who has lived both in the flatlands and amongst mountains, I strongly identified with parts of the story. Nick was at one point stationed on the Suffolk coast, not far from where I grew up, and I can relate to his sense of being cast adrift and far from where he wanted to be. However, I also started to gain the impression at this point that, in his single-minded determination to climb at all costs, Nick failed to see the beauty and meaning in everyday existence. This impression strengthened as I read the book. The type of freedom that 'Echoes' champions is the result of choices most of us will never have the courage to make, but I think his total rejection of a normal life betrays a lack of balance--or perhaps simply a blindness to the wonders that ordinary life can provide.

The conflict between freedom and security is a prominent theme, and Nick struggles with this conflict for many years before making his definitive choice.
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