Iím probably not the best qualified person to
review this book, I do not have the in-depth knowledge of the crags
outside the Christchurch area or, for that matter, the historical
knowledge of the areas development and ethics. Thankfully I can consult
experts, who between them have over forty years of local knowledge - and
thatís just two of them.
My mother told me if you canít say anything
good donít say anything. Bearing this in mind, I have to tell you, I
really like the cover picture. As a contributor to the guide (information
only), writing this review is a bit of a poison chalice, especially as a
free copy arrived on my doorstep the day after I was asked to pen this.
What can I say?
Firstly; gram for gram itís a lot dearer than the Christchurch
Press Ė its debatable which is more informative and at $44 itís a heck
of a lot dearer, especially when you consider the majority of the
information your buying hasnít been updated since the first guide. Even
the wit has been recycled.
The guide purports to be ďA guide to the
best rock climbing areas in the South islandĒ, it certainly isnít a
definitive guide and although it does cover some great areas it hasnít
kept pace with developments around Canterbury: it favours Cattlestop Crag
over major developments like Dawn Wall and Britten Crag. At Dawn Wall
there are about fifty routes, it gets the morning sun, its up to twenty
five metres high and there are some classic routes there. At Britten Crag
there are over one hundred and thirty routes with good cross section of
grades and many high quality routes.
If I had bought ďA guide to the best rock
climbing areas in the South islandĒ and ended up at Cattlestop (and this
is purely personnel), Iíd feel cheated. Furthermore Cattlestop Crag did
make it into the guide, but the best route didnít, ďSurgical StrikeĒ
along with about fifteen others went AWOL. Cattlestop Crag did get a make
over in terms of the addition of a specific history section but itís a
pity it ended more or less in 1992 (more or less). Other crags received
the same fate: the Fantasy Factory history was lifted straight from the
last guide and the development of the 90ís was summarised as ďin the
late 90ís Tony Burnell, Alan Hill and Richard Kimberley added some
routesĒ. This seems a little derogatory given that the number of routes
at the crag more than doubled, and that the new routes climbed are some of
the best lines at the crag both with and without bolts. With statements
like, ďSince then a few fillers have been addedĒ you have to wonder if
the routes have been climbed and checked or if the authors ever visited
Earlier I said I liked the cover picture.
This was true and inside there are some good black and white action shots.
The crag shots are another thing. They are not the greatest quality, and
are not new, it would have been better to commission some decent drawings
similar to Marcus Thomasís drawing of Dawn Wall, (see relevant issue of
New Zealand Climber). Drawings tend to show the salient features of the
crag or the route without the clutter of the minute detail and the
confusion of shadows.
It might have been a mistake to continue with
the crag photoís but thatís only a minor problem compared to some of
the others. The crags that I am familiar with have numerous errors. Even
the information I provided was incorrectly incorporated, without going
into the grades (who dares these days) here are a few errors that my spies
have pointed out to me.