Saturday, February 11, 2012

Baker et. al.'s 1995 Guide to Climbing in Welsford

Part 2 of my Legislative Library treasure hunt.

In the library's Welsford collection the next find was Baker et. al.'s 1995 rock climbing guide. A perfectly mint condition copy at that. And it's with the permission of the lead author that I post it here for your enjoyment! In asking permission I assured Paul that I don't make a cent off of this blog... in response he assured me that he didn't make a cent off this book. Which is too bad. 

Now 17 years out of print this guide would still be considered excellent. The absolute highlight are the hand drawn topos of Mark Dixon. Although the engineered precision of Fred's newer CAD topos is appreciated, this style really begs you to climb the routes! Also fun is some of the sandbagged grades... can you spot them? Very nice stuff. 

With 5 years now elapsed since Fred's last guidebook edition, I'd expect that there new routes, new areas, and new climbers enough to justify a new guide. The question will be who will have the energy and time to dedicate to the monumental task? I think similar to this edition, any new guide will almost have to be a multi-author approach. I also wonder whether there's too many areas for a single book to cover? 

One more little gem left to share!


  1. next guide should have more inspiring nice photo per wall! ;)

  2. I think you're right Chris, with all the new areas, another guide would be helpful...but as I'm sure Fred can attest to - it's an incredible amount of time and energy. I think one guide would still be fine, I mean even with all the new areas, I think one book would be manageable...
    now to find that 'taker' to do this...Chris? :)

  3. My opinion is that the next guidebook should have more pictures and the author should have climbed every single route in New Brunswick before publishing it. So I think your idea of a multi-author approach makes sense. If a few people were tasked to climb all the routes in NB, then they could accurately report on stars and safety ratings instead of good old hearsay. In the process, obscure routes would be climbed and cleaned so it would be a win-win for all!

    I would also either put more stars or give an option to put a route as a pile of crap. Climbing obscure routes in Welsford, there are a few times where I thought this route is a death trap and really dangerous and loose.- Thrash and Crash at Striated comes to mind and a few others. Some were put up long ago and all that we know about them is the biased report from the FAist.

    Anyways, I've written enough already (I've got lots more to say on the subject but I'll stop here). And...Like Stacey said, I think you would make a really good candidate to captain the ship Chris.

  4. Those are beautiful hand drawn illustrations. I'd love to have a t-shirt with the Cheekbone topo on it.

    Thanks for posting these old books.


  5. Thanks for sharing this Chris. Neat to see the old guidebook. I agree, those hand drawn topos are really nice.

    I don't know the history around the first naming and re-naming, but I think the Upper Tier should again be known as "Pete and Steve's Most Excellent Sport Climbing Wall". Much more interesting than "Upper Tier" :)

  6. I really dig the hand-drawn topo just like everyone else!

    @Dom - Do you think it's still reasonable that every known route would be recorded in the next guide? Or should the author have the discretion to ignore the choss piles? It seems like a monumental job... especially if you think the author should have to climb every line.

    @Marcelle - I also vote to change back to 'the nose buttress' and 'gollum's point'

  7. @Dom, have you seen the Rockfax guidebooks? Loose or dangerous routes can be marked with a specific symbol, completely independent of the star rating... :) The common symbol for dangerous routes is a heart with wings.

  8. @Chris I think some choss pile should be recorded in the next guide. That way we avoid the ''it's been climbed before'' fiasco. It depends what you mean by Choss pile though. It's a vague term. I've climbed two loose pile of crap at Cochrane Lane and I've never reported them as they really sucked! So I guess the guidebook author has the discretion but he has to have climbed them in order to make that call. Which brings me to my 2nd point-for which I have too much to say and will talk to you in person about it hehe!

    And Foggy yes I have an old Squamish guidebook here that uses similar symbols. The one I have though includes a 'pile of Shit' symbol. This is used if the route is really bad. That is what I meant. Our New Brunswick guidebook has a three star rating and there and many many routes don't have stars. That means that a lot of good routes don't have stars while really crappy routes also don't have stars. In my opinion there should be a way to divide the good starless routes from the chossy horrible starless routes:)

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