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The Long Routes : Mountaineering Rock Climbs in Snowdonia and the Lake District Paperback – 27 Jun 1999
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More consequential is the claim that climbs included in `The Long Routes' "provide the natural next step for the adventurous scrambler", yet inclusion of grades from `Diff.' to `Hard Severe' seems too all-embracing and surely goes too far. There is a devastating difference between scrambling or tackling a route like Main Wall on Cyrn Las or Bridge's Route on Esk Buttress (wrongly labelled Bridger's Route). Also I believe some grades are incorrectly stated. Jones' Route Direct on Scafell Pinnacle is `VS' and maybe Slingsby's Chimney at `V.Diff.' is more appropriate to the book's philosophy. North Climb on Pillar may be more of a character classic than North East Climb and it could be more readily graded with reference to `Diff.' plus alternatives to final pitch. And if `Severes' are to be promoted then omission of Murray's Route on Dow Crag is inexcusable (sorry - I said there was no disagreement over choice). At the opposite end of the grade argument I rate Atlantic Slab on Carnedd y Filiast as a scramble to be done in boots, and I shrink from Ashcroft's unworthy advice to "just use your sticky soles".
I found some route details difficult to follow and wonder why it was felt necessary to rewrite many of the traditional accounts in Fell & Rock and Climbers' Club definitive guidebooks (copyright ?). Perhaps there is no cause for denunciation of Ashcroft's division of climbs into pitches, but his advice does not always equate with my own experience. Even so a glaring omission is not to state lengths of pitches. Happily many of the selected routes are well-scratched and easy to fathom, and stances are obvious, but without quantified pitch division and with almost cryptic description I defy anyone other than the cognoscenti to understand some of the route particulars - like Middlefell Buttress in Langdale. Also some of the sketches are insufficient for recognition of features, and others are misleading - an example is Gillercombe Buttress (where to make matters worse the final "tricky traverse" referred to with the second pitch cuts back left - not right as described!).
Descent details could be another source for fault-finding but I've said enough and many other issues would only be quibbles. As implied at the start of this review Robin Ashcroft's choice of long routes is fair and predictable. His book's positive contribution is to identify lower grade classic challenges, and readers can be confident those selected for `The Long Routes' will not disappoint. It is pleasing to read of mountaineering rock climbs, many with continuations to summits, and I am delighted to learn some of my favourites from over 50 years ago are still to be recommended. However as far as route detail is concerned I finish with a warning for readers to beware and to seek information elsewhere.