Wild Country: The man who made Friends

Vertebrate Publishing
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Shortlisted: 2016 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature

‘[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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Vertebrate Publishing
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Published on
Jun 1, 2016
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Pages
300
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ISBN
9781910240823
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Adventurers & Explorers
Biography & Autobiography / Business
Biography & Autobiography / Sports
Business & Economics / Personal Success
Sports & Recreation / Mountaineering
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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On Thin Ice is Mick Fowler's second set of climbing memoirs, following Vertical Pleasure. Here, the celebrated mountaineer records his expeditions since 1990. Despite work and family commitments, he has maintained a regular series of 'big trips' to challenging objectives around the world with a sequence of major successes: Taweche (1995, with Pat Littlejohn), Changabang (1997, with Steve Sustad, Andy Cave and Brendan Murphy), Arwa Tower (1999, with Sustad), Mount Kennedy (2000, with Cave), Siguniang (2002, with Paul Ramsden). Siguniang's hard ice climbing on a fabulous face in deepest China was so admired by the international climbing community that it won the US 'Golden Piton' and the French 'Piolet d'Or', both awards given for the finest alpine achievements in the world during that year. The author describes his travels in the great traditions, with engaging modesty and wit, but the climbs themselves are frequently so dramatic that the anxiety and tension forces its way to the surface to be matched by a corresponding relief and triumph when success and safe descent is achieved. Mick Fowler has thus become Britain's most successful exponent of high-standard lightweight mountaineering in the greater ranges. At 48 he is already something of an elder statesman of a cadre of international activists. They are steadily ticking off the most challenging lines in the world - a 'golden age' of super-alpinism that is now in full swing. How this influences activities on the 8000m peaks where the dangers (rarefied air, weather severity and sheer scale) are greater is an open question. History suggests that as major challenges on the lower peaks are steadily mastered the focus will return to technical challenges offered at the higher altitudes. Whether the results will exceed achievements such as the Kurtyka/Schauer (Gasherbrum 4) and the Bohigas/Lucas (Annapurna 1) remains to be seen. The combination of exotic travel with major climbs provides the ultimate adrenalin-soaked holiday experience that Mick Fowler has mastered to the full. We are transported from the cliffs of Jordan, to remote peaks in deepest Asia, via Taweche and Changabang in the Himalaya, with jaunts to the Andes and Alaska thrown in for good measure. That Fowler has organised this routine for years, while holding down a conventional nine-to-five job with the Inland Revenue, has constantly amazed his peers. In this, his second book, he has also mastered the skills of amusing travel-writing to entertain us as a preliminary to the finale of a titanic struggle on each of his fiendishly demanding climbs.
John Gill: Master of Rock is a captivating look into the life, achievements and ethos of boulderer John Gill. This new edition of the classic title is complete with photographs, personal impressions of Gill from climbers such as Yvon Chouinard, and an enlightening interview with Gill himself.

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.

A New York Times Bestseller

A dramatic, inspiring memoir by legendary rock climber Tommy Caldwell, the first person to free climb the Dawn Wall of Yosemite’s El Capitan   

“The rarest of adventure reads:  it thrills with colorful details of courage and perseverance but it enriches readers with an absolutely captivating glimpse into how a simple yet unwavering resolve can turn adversity into reward.” —The Denver Post

A finalist for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature

On January 14, 2015, Tommy Caldwell, along with his partner, Kevin Jorgeson, summited what is widely regarded as the hardest climb in history—Yosemite’s nearly vertical 3,000-foot Dawn Wall, after nineteen days on the route. Caldwell’s odds-defying feat—the subject of the documentary film The Dawn Wall to be released nationwide in September—was the culmination of an entire lifetime of pushing himself to his limits as an athlete.

This engrossing memoir chronicles the journey of a boy with a fanatical mountain-guide father who was determined to instill toughness in his son to a teen whose obsessive nature drove him to the top of the sport-climbing circuit. Caldwell’s affinity for adventure then led him to the vertigo-inducing and little understood world of big wall free climbing. But his evolution as a climber was not without challenges; in his early twenties, he was held hostage by militants in a harrowing ordeal in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Soon after, he lost his left index finger in an accident. Later his wife, and main climbing partner, left him. Caldwell emerged from these hardships with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. He set his sights on free climbing El Capitan’s biggest, steepest, blankest face—the Dawn Wall. This epic assault took more than seven years, during which time Caldwell redefined the sport, found love again, and became a father.

The Push is an arresting story of focus, drive, motivation, endurance, and transformation, a book that will appeal to anyone seeking to overcome fear and doubt, cultivate perseverance, turn failure into growth, and find connection with family and with the natural world.
In the first hours there was nothing, no fear or sadness, just a black and perfect silence.

Nando Parrado was unconscious for three days before he woke to discover that the plane carrying his rugby team, as well as their family members and supporters, to an exhibition game in Chile had crashed somewhere deep in the Andes. He soon learned that many were dead or dying—among them his own mother and sister. Those who remained were stranded on a lifeless glacier at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, with no supplies and no means of summoning help. They struggled to endure freezing temperatures, deadly avalanches, and then the devastating news that the search for them had been called off.

As time passed and Nando’s thoughts turned increasingly to his father, who he knew must be consumed with grief, Nando resolved that he must get home or die trying. He would challenge the Andes, even though he was certain the effort would kill him, telling himself that even if he failed he would die that much closer to his father. It was a desperate decision, but it was also his only chance. So Nando, an ordinary young man with no disposition for leadership or heroism, led an expedition up the treacherous slopes of a snow-capped mountain and across forty-five miles of frozen wilderness in an attempt to find help.

Thirty years after the disaster Nando tells his story with remarkable candor and depth of feeling. Miracle in the Andes—a first person account of the crash and its aftermath—is more than a riveting tale of true-life adventure: it is a revealing look at life at the edge of death and a meditation on the limitless redemptive power of love.
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