Unjustifiable Risk?: The Story of British Climbing

Unjustifiable Risk?: The Story of British Climbing

by Simon Thompson

Hardcover(First Edition)

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To the impartial observer, Britain does not appear to have any mountains. Yet the British invented the sport of mountain climbing and for two periods in history British climbers led the world in the pursuit of this beautiful and dangerous obsession. Unjustifiable Risk" is the story of the social, economic and cultural conditions that gave rise to the sport, and the achievements and motives of the scientists and poets, parsons and anarchists, villains and judges, ascetics and drunks that have shaped its development over the past two hundred years.

Climbing has both reflected and influenced changing social attitudes to nature and beauty, heroism and death. Over the years, increasing wealth, leisure and mobility have gradually transformed the sport from an activity undertaken by an eccentric and privileged minority into a part of the mainstream leisure and tourist industry. But while much has changed, even more has remained the same. Today's climbers would be instantly recognisable to their Victorian predecessors, with their desire to escape from the crowded complexity of urban life, and willingness to take 'unjustifiable' risks in pursuit of beauty, adventure and self-fulfilment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781852846275
Publisher: Cicerone Press Limited
Publication date: 11/01/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Simon started climbing at age 16 and has been fascinated by the sport ever since. A former director of Anglo American and chairman of Tarmac, he has lived in seven different countries and currently sits on the boards of companies headquartered in Russia, Sweden, the UK and the USA, but he continues to escape to the mountains whenever time permits.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements x

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Before 1854: In Search of the Sublime 7

From gloom to glory 8

Aesthetes and heroes 15

Chapter 3 1854-65: A Conscious Divinity 29

Chapter 4 1865-1914: Gentlemen and Gymnasts 51

The Alps 57

The Lake District 79

North Wales 91

Scotland 99

Outcrops 104

The Greater Ranges 107

Chapter 5 1914-39: Organised Cowardice 123

The Lake District 136

North Wales 142

Scotland 151

Outcrops 156

The Alps 158

The Greater Ranges 169

Chapter 6 1939-70: Hard Men in an Affluent Society 189

North Wales 205

The Lake District 218

Scotland 221

Outcrops 234

The Alps 237

The Greater Ranges 248

Chapter 7 After 1970: Reinventing the Impossible 261

Rock climbing 282

Mountaineering 296

Chapter 8 Because it's There" 323

Notes 341

Appendix I A Note on Grades 359

Appendix II Glossary of Climbing Terms 361

Selected Bibliography 363

Index 379

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