‘[Wild Country] chronicles not just the mountains [Mark] has climbed, but the part he played in bringing to market a little piece of sporting equipment that revolutionised mountaineering and saved countless lives.’ – Sarah Freeman, Yorkshire Post
In early 1978, an extraordinary new invention for rock climbers was featured on the BBC television science show Tomorrow’s World. It was called the ‘Friend’, and it not only made the sport safer, it helped push the limits of the possible. The company that made them was called Wild Country, the brainchild of Mark Vallance. Within six months, Vallance was selling Friends in sixteen countries. Wild Country would go on to develop much of the gear that transformed climbing in the 1980s.
Mark Vallance’s influence on the outdoor world extends far beyond the company he founded. He owned and opened the influential retailer Outside in the Peak District and was part of the team that built The Foundry, Sheffield’s premier climbing wall – the first modern climbing gym in Britain. He worked for the Peak District National Park and served on its board. He even found time to climb 8,000-metre peaks and the Nose on El Capitan. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his mid fifties and robbed of his plans for retirement, Vallance found a new sense of purpose as a reforming president of the British Mountaineering Council.
In Wild Country, Vallance traces his story, from childhood influences like Robin Hodgkin and Sir Jack Longland, to two years in Antarctica, where he was base commander of the UK’s largest and most southerly scientific station at Halley Bay, before his fateful meeting with Ray Jardine, the man who invented Friends, in Yosemite.
Trenchant, provocative and challenging, Wild Country is a remarkable personal story and a fresh perspective on the role of the outdoors in British life and the development of climbing in its most revolutionary phase.
Hailed the father of modern bouldering, John Gill is an awe-inspiring climber with enigmatic talent. His techniques have been likened to poetry and are almost ‘spiritual’ in nature. Famous for his dynamic approach to bouldering and his impressive physical accomplishments, such as the one-arm front lever, Gill is an inspiration to climbers around the world.
Written by Gill’s friend and fellow climber, Pat Ament, John Gill: Master of Rock pays homage to this influence. Delving deeply into not only the fascinating life of Gill, but the very raw essence of what it means to boulder, this intimate biography is both intriguing and informative.
'Bouldering is the poetry of mountaineering ... As with good poetry, good bouldering comes from within. It is derived from an inner eye, then refined.'
At its core, John Gill: Master of Rock illustrates the humbling relationship between Gill and those who admire him – as Ament details first-hand, Gill is never egotistical, nor elitist; instead he is approachable, passionate and refreshingly independent.
This staple climbing read is a real must-have for those with an interest in pioneers of the bouldering scene. The exploits and adventures contained within will appeal to devotees of the sport and to anyone seeking insight into the triumphs of a master.
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On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan—to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear—completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport" (National Geographic) and "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever" (New York Times). Already one of the most famous adventure athletes in the world, Honnold has now been hailed as "the greatest climber of all time" (Vertical magazine).
Alone on the Wall recounts the most astonishing achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. Now Honnold tells, for the first time and in his own words, the story of his 3 hours and 56 minutes on the sheer face of El Cap, which Outside called "the moon landing of free soloing…a generation-defining climb. Bad ass and beyond words…one of the pinnacle sporting moments of all time."