• Winter CLIMBING + Published!

    The year is not yet a month old and Rockfax have already published a book! Winter CLIMBING +  is now available and should be in the shops, and on the web sites, for ordering by the end of the week.

    Order Winter CLIMBING + direct here

    The book is the third in the ‘Plus’ series following on from the critically acclaimed Sport CLIMBING + and Trad CLIMBING +. As with the previous ‘Plus’ books, we have managed to track down the most accomplished exponents around and in Neil Gresham and Ian Parnell we found two winter climbers who are at the top of the game.

    The book they have put together takes you from first steps onto snow and ice, right through to cutting edge ascents of mixed routes. The emphasis once again is on improving your climbing standard focussing on simple techiques you can use to make the most out of your ability, time and equipment.

    Download the preview chapter here

     The Next Rockfax Publication

    Work is now finishing on the new edition of Western Grit which will be available in the last week of April.

  • El Chorro Published

    The El Chorro guidebook has been published today, hopefully in time for everyone going out there for Christmas. Stock should be arriving at the online distributors tomorrow morning (Thursday 11) and they will get these sent out before the weekend (13 and 14).

    Obviously we are dealing with the Christmas post however we hope that all UK online orders will arrive either by the weekend or early next week. UK shops should get their stock early next week. Online orders going further into Europe will probably take at least a week to arrive but these too will be sent out next week.

    The book looks great and we are very happy with it. The main author Mark Glaister is currently back out in El Chorro, this time simply to enjoy the climbing. His mate is bringing some copies direct via EasyJetso there should een be a few copies in El Chorro by this weekend. svenska casinon på

    Thanks to the new printers – John Browns in Nottingham for sorting the books so quickly.

    Now it is on with the new edition of Western Grit!

  • Lofoten Rock wins Banff – “perfect!” says John Harlin

    Lofoten RockFor the second year running a Rockfax guidebook has won the prestigious Mountain Exposition Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival. Last year it was Deep Water, and this year it is Lofoten Rock.

    John Harlin, a judge at Banff and renowned mountain author described the book as “perfect”. You can read his full report here.

    Chris Craggs was unable to attend the ceremony but sent over  a speech which was read out in which he especially thanked co-author Thorbjørn Enevold:

    “…And most importantly to Thorbjørn Enevold the climbing guide who lives and works in Lofoten, where he runs the NNKS (North Norway Climbing School), and who was instrumental in getting Ed Webster to write the classic 1994 guidebook “Climbing in the Magic Islands”. Our incidental meeting when we first arrived in Lofoten, was a fortuitous one (Sherri hired me guide of the first time ever to do the scary Svolvaer Goat). When he discovered I worked for RockFax he was wary, but I sent him a copy of our most recent guide and he later admitted – he realised straight away that “I wanted to be on that train”. His local knowledge and network of contacts ensured that the guide was up-to-date and accurate. He knew from the start what kind of a guide he wanted and subtly shunted me in the ‘right’ direction.
    Thanks for giving me the chance to write a guide to this fantastic part of the world – your part of the world – and for making us welcome there.”

    This is also the third year on the trot that this award has been won by a British guidebook since the BMC won with Burbage, Millstone and Beyond in 2006. which just goes to show once again what a great state UK guidebooks are in. Here are some more thoughts on this.

  • Climbers at Downing Street

    The members of the climbing press on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament

    Meeting the Prime Minister….. well we would have done had it not been for some trivial issue connected with global financial meltdown. Despite the PM not being there I have to say that this was a really fun day. Just being in the corridors of power was exciting, and how big is Downing Street? You think that it is just a normal house but it stretches back forever, almost a football pitch length I’d say!

    House of Parliament Terrace from the London Eye

    I was also lucky enough to be part of the press briefing beforehand where around 20 of us went with John Mann MP deep into the Houses of Parliament onto the famous ‘terrace’ – the place where most of the important decisions are made. Sat there I looked up at the London Eye and contemplated the reverse view I had of the terrace a few years earlier. We also saw Tony Benn who, despite not being an MP anymore, obviously can’t keep away from the place.
    The rest of the day was brilliant and Gordon wasn’t missed.

    Outside 10 Downing Street

  • Three New Publications

    Mallorca DWS CoverWe are pleased to announce three new publications, one of which is available immediately, and two books for later in the year.

    Firstly we have Daimon Beail’s latest addition to the deep water solo information covering Mallorca. Daimon wrote a MiniGuide called Mallorca Psicobloc in 2006 which covered the three big cliffs of Porto Cristo (Cova del Diablo), Cala Marcel and Cala Barques, plus a few smaller venues. This information was then adpated and updated by Daimon, working together with Mike Robertson, in the award-winning book Deep Water. Since then Daimon has been hard at work documenting many more areas which are now fully covered in this new MiniGuide – Mallorca Deep Water Soloing. This makes a great companion to the book Deep Water and is essential reading for anyone going to the island with a view to tackling some DWS action.

    The next print publication will be a full guide to El Chorro. This great area last appeared in a print Rockfax in 2001. Despite rumours to the contrary climbing in the area remains as vibrant and active as ever, and there is also a wealth of new crags in the vicinity which are gain coverage for the first time in a Rockfax. For those looking for a ahcnage from the Costa Blanca or Mallorca, El Chorro should be on the hit list for this winter. Expected publication date is late November but we’ll say early December to be safe. Being this great has it’s consequences endless Ddos attacks leading primary Empire Market URL to be down, and alternative mirror too.

    The final publication of the year is the third in the series of ‘plus’ books – Winter CLIMBING +. This time we will be focussing on all aspects of winter climbing, from ice to mixed, mountain safety to waterfall climbing. The book is being written by two of the Country’s leading winter climbers – Neil Gresham and Ian Parnell.

  • A Lofoten Diary

    Half way up the majestic Vestpillaren on Presten

    Day 1 – Long drive up through so much impressive rock scenery that we banned the comment “I wonder if there is anything up that?” We stopped at one of the many superb little campsites that Norway specialises in with a camping cabin. First evening was spent witnessing my first ever midnight sun – an amazing and disorienting experience.

    Day 2 – A quick ferry onto the Island (although you can get there by road now but it is a long drive) and we met up with Chris, Sherri and Colin. Afternoon was spent at the accessible and sheltered Gandalfveggen. There was a wicked cooling wind blowing that must have chilled the teams we saw up on Vestpillaren. Two great routes done – Gandalf and Tromso Express.

    Day 3 – Cloudy but no wind. More classic ticks on the accessible Pianokrakken. Light and Shade and Apple Cake Arete. The big news though was that the guidebooks stock has arrived in Henningsvaer so the launch party on Friday is on!

    Day 4 – There are many things which make a route special – line, position, continuity, exposure, rock quality, history, location and climbing quality. It is rare that all of these come together in one route to such great effect as they do with Vestpillaren. The route has a perfect line up the most striking rock feature in the area, the rock is of immaculate quality, the pitches are all around the same difficulty, the position and outlook are majestic and the climbing absorbing throughout. The upper section has a few pitches that take the only lines of cracks and grooves up an otherwise blank sea of rock – all natural and little fixed gear.

    We were also blessed with perfect weather for our ascent and I have now experienced a story I’ll be telling my grandchildren. I won’t go on about it since the ascent was pretty straightforward, just make sure that if you have any ambitions for big rock routes in Europe, you put this one on the list.

    Summit party below –

    Day 5 – After yesterday’s excesses, it was hard to get going again today. The weather gave us no let up though and the sun continued to shine brightly. A brief visit to the sport crag of Finnvika was the only climbing activity – good climbs in a beautiful location but not really what you come to Lofoten for.



    Skiloperen on Store Fesvag

    Day 6 – Lofoten is good at cracks – long ones with great gear in wonderful locations. Store Festvag has them by the bucketload and we managed three, all of them great. The photo shows Skiloperen, but the best and most surprising was Cuckoo Crack which looks E5 from below but gives a magnificent pitch at about HVS (it should be called Cuckoo Flake really since that is what it is).

    Back at base the rest of the team had left leaving just Mark and myself. We settled into an evening routine of beer on our terrace overlooking Vagakallen, a plate of grub and (expensive can of beer*), then settle down in the camping reception to watch the football and get a decent internet connection.

    *Price of beer – first day we arrived, walking around the supermarket we spotted the beer, 25 NOK a six pack (we thought). Got outside, did the maths and realised that it was 25 NOK per can (= £15 a six pack!) Finances weren’t helped by then leaving a six pack in the fridge of the first camping we stopped at.

    Day 7 – Thorbjørn didn’t want a photo of the Goat on the cover on the guide, despite the fact we had rather a good new one (see Goat chapter). I can see why – the Goat is Svolvær and associated with old-skool Lofoten, the new wave are centered on Henningsvæ, Presten and Gandalf. We still wanted to climb the thing since it is an essential route when in Lofoten. It didn’t disappoint. Mucking around the horns in particularly exciting and unique. We didn’t do the jump but even so the situation is just superb.

    Day 8 – One of the great classic routes of Lofoten is Bare Blåbær (only Bilberries – an expression which means the same as ‘piece of cake’ in English). The route is situated in the outstanding valley of Djupfjord, a place which would be World famous and probably developed with chairlifts, campsites and luxury hotels if it was anywhere in the Alps. Here there is nothing but what nature left us. Everything about this route from the walk-in to the first and last move is a pleasure. There is nothing really hard about it, but the length and sustained nature of the climbing mean it is a long and memorable day out. Once again we were joined (by coincidence) by our Czech friends Janek and Camilla, who we had climbed Vestpillaren with on Friday.

    Day 9 – Although we had not declared this officially a rest day, it became an official late start day due to slightly dodgy weather, and lethargy. However we managed to pull one route out of the bag – the classic Solens Sonner, a long 4 pitch slab route with cracks and friction climbing. As expected it was another great route although Mark admitted that he has nightmares about holdless slabs, and there are plenty on this. It also throws in a 30m crack that only takes one decent runner at the bottom and then little else.

    Day 10 – Today’s chosen route was Puff Crack around by Kalle camping. The crack itself was superb but the upper pitches hadn’t been climbed this year (we don’t think) and gave slightly terrifying slab padding on gritty, lichen-covered rock above a tape runner. Be warned that the Top 50 tag probably only applies when the route is clean which may not be very often, although you can abseil after the crack pitch.

    Paradise area and the free camping spot

    The rest of the day consisted of exploring the Paradise area which is a fascinating jumble of blocks, walls and sea inlets. There is a huge potential for new routes here. The photo shows the idyllic free camping spot at Paradise, complete with bathing Norwegian girls. This lovely location apparently gets a bit crowded and smelly during the busy part of the season which is a great shame.

    Day 11 – I suppose it couldn’t last and finally the weather broke today although not in true Lofoten style I feel since it still only registered ‘a few showers’. This was enough to send us to the steep sport climbing cave of Eggum.

    “Alan somehow keeps up a very good image of not trad climbing, I take it this is completely unfair and that actually he’s a complete knarl-meister?” – TobyA here

    Eggum Sport Crag

    Well today I set about proving Toby’ s pre-conceived image correct. Armed with the knowledge I gleaned from Sport Climbing +, Mark and I set about Eggum in true sport climber style – a proper 6a warm-up, then a 6b+ to get the blood flowing, and then a quick working of the 7a+ extension. When the redpoint time came, we dispensed with the Brit-style double 9’s and used one 9 on its own, the quickdraws were all in place and the route properly rehearsed (well sort of). With such efficient redpoint tactics, success was inevitable (helped by the fact that the route was probably only 7a).

    Eggum does add another dimension to Lofoten albeit mainly for the climber operating at 7a and above. The routes are on perfect rock, are well bolted and give great steep climbing. Just another feather in the cap of this wonderful climbing destination.

    Day 12 – It has certainly got a bit colder now although the rain is still holding off. Spent another day at Gandlaf – the first crag we have visited twice – and picked off another couple of classics: Gamel Rev and Gollum. Apart from the two Czech climbers we kept meeting, this was the first occasion where a crag had been a bit ‘busy’. There were some guides practicing their rescue skills plus at least four other teams active. The Norwegian season is supposed to have started yesterday, which might explain it, although most at the crag had been there for a while.

    Day 13 – Our final two routes were sport routes at Urdstabben before the long and rather tortuous journey home. I won’t go into too many details except to say that SAS are good, reliable and efficient, but if you do book from the UK, try and avoid the 3-stage flight in favor of the 2-hop one if you get the choice. Three hours driving, three flights and then a train make for a very long day!


  • Lads Trip to Wales

    Sammy on his first multi-pitch route ever - Left Edge on Carnedd y Filliast

    I had promised Sam a ‘lads trip’ to Wales – his sister had gone with Henriette to Berlin last year and, although the trade may not seem a fair one, Sam seemed happy enough with it. So it was with increasing frustration as we woke up every day during half term to be faced with rain, drizzle and dodgy forecast. Then suddenly, and rather surprisingly, a good weather window appeared at just the right moment. Bags were packed and the lads set off on Friday afternoon heading for Ogwen and one of the beautiful campsites below Tryfan. The intention of choosing one of these campsites was that they are too far from pubs to attract the drunken middle of the night chatter problem keeping everyone awake until all hours. Of course that doesn’t stop people bringing their own ‘pubs’ with them to the site, which is exactly what happened. It is amazing how ignorant and unsociable some people are. At the end of the weekend I ended up wondering why on earth these people had bothered coming all the way to Wales for their ‘campin’ weekend since they never actually left the campsite after arriving despite the beautiful weather and clear tops.

    Little Tryfan campsite

    Anyway we weren’t going to let it spoil our time. Acting on a hot tip from Jack Geldard, Sam and I headed off to Carnedd y Filiast aiming for Left Edge. Jack’s 40 minute walk-in turned out to be 60 minutes steep grind up hill for 11 year old legs – a fact which will probably guarantee this buttress remains a beautiful and quiet place – but the route looked good when we got there. A brief explanation to Sam of how multi-pitching works and I was off. Now one of those lessons that you tend to only learn as an after thought is that people on their first multi-pitch climb quite like decent-sized stances to break up the route – it gives them a chance to get things together in their minds and also offers a break from the exposure. Unfortunately Left Edge stance can only be described as small, smaller and smallest (well a foothold actually). Luckily though the climbing is dead straightforward and the position is superb. Four pitches later we were at the top and ready to make our way back down. Sam had enjoyed the climbing but didn’t much like the lonely waits on the tiny stances as I disappeared up the slab above.
    The rest of the weekend went well. We joined the crowds for an evening session on Little Tryfan – perhaps a better place to learn a bit of multi-pitching! Next day an early start ensured us peace and quiet on Milestone Buttress Direct and a very different sort of VDiff to the previous day. In terms of technical climbing I’d say there was at least three grades between MB and Left Edge – the former surely being worth HVD or even Severe, the latter having no move which would get more than Mod on a Peak edge. However, I think VDiff for Left Edge is ok – the gear is a little thin and the situation remote with some of the trappings of a more serious mountain crag.

  • Lofoten Rock – Out Now

    PuffinsLofoten Rock has now been published and very proud we are of it too! As with Northern England – our first book of 2008 – Chris Craggs has been the main author and this publication marks the end of a period of about 4 or 5 years of effort by Chris on the two projects. When you combine these two books with Eastern Grit published in 2006 and Costa Blanca published in 2005, it is an incredibly impressive quartet of 300-plus page guidebooks to have in your portfolio. Congratulations to Chris, and also to Thorbjørn Enevold who is the co-author in this case.

    Lofoten Rock represents another step forward in Rockfax publication style. We have adopted a much more lavish approach to topo size and our use of photography and the books look even more impressive and rich in colour than they used to, if that is possible!

    Take a look at the preview chapter here.

    Spot the Puffins – The hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the Costa Blanca Rockfax proved to be very popular so we thought it time to provide some extra guidebook-reading entertainment again in the shape of hidden Puffins. There are 20 of them spread across the various locations – some of them are fairly obvious, some less so, and one or two are near impossible to find – mind you we said that about the Easter Eggs and still they were all found by someone (although not the same person). We have prizes for the first 10 people to send me an email with the location of all 20 puffins although, having seen the finished book, I am willing to bet that no-one will manage it.

  • Lofoten Rock – Nearly There!

    Last week, Chris and I went down to the printers in Nottingham to see the first sheets of Lofoten Rock roll off the press. Since then the rest have been printed and I received a set of unbound ‘running sheets’ yesterday. This is always a good moment when you can see the appearance of the finished pages for the first time. No matter how many screens versions and proofs you look at (and both of these have come a very long way in the last 16 years!) the only thing that really looks like the finished product is … well, the finished product. I think the impact this time was more dramatic than any previous guidebooks I have done simply because of the amount of stunning images this book contains.

    Lofoten ‘running sheets’

    We made a little video of the printing which you can see here.

    We are also doing our best ever web offer throughout May – £5 off for all orders placed online from here.

    Projected delivery times

    UK online orders – week beginning 19th May

    Rest of Europe – week beginning 26 May (far less predictable though)

    Lofoten – local stock should arrive in the last week of May.