Book Review “Towards the Ogre “

This is a review by a friend Adrian Trednall many thanks .

Towards The Ogre

by Clive Rowland

Luck plays a part in everyone’s lives.

It was totally by chance that I received a copy of “Towards The Ogre.” I’d noted it’s forthcoming release and had made a mental note to contact Heavy ( David Whalley) who was introducing the book at it’s launch. I’d meant to ask him to get a copy for me since I knew he was going to be coming over to Skye but with a mega busy guiding schedule, I’d completely forgotten.

Almost as if my mind had been read, Heavy spontaneously sent me a copy of the book written by his great mate, Clive Rowland. The book looked every bit as good as I’d expected and when initially flicking through it, the pages opened randomly at a chapter entitled, “Complete Traverse – Red and Black Cuillin Ridge, Skye.”

Whether or not you believe in luck, Clive Rowland has led a charmed life, many of his friends and fellow climbers having run out of luck. The book largely builds up to the well known accident on the Ogre when Doug Scott broke both legs and would have faced a near impossible descent had not Clive Rowlands and Mo Anthoine been present. To further complicate the rescue, Chris Bonnington broke two ribs with subsequent complications including pneumonia.

Clive and Mo were the unsung heroes of the day and without their presence and tenacity, two of Britain’s leading climbers would almost certainly have perished. Obviously, the accidents were bad luck but it was lucky that such an experienced team of would be rescuers were on hand. Incidentally, Doug’s accident happened on the 13th and earlier in the day, Mo had asked Clive;

“Do you know what day it is?”

“Pay Day,” I replied, ironically.

“It’s the 13th.”

“You don’t believe in that crap,” I interjected, cutting him off.

“No, but I don’t usually move from the fire and the telly on the 13th.”

The book is full of fantastic tales, great quotes and stories about some of the greats in the golden age of British climbing in the alps and greater ranges. But, it’s also an autobiography of a much under rated climber, his life and loves, around which climbing was central. Many well known names make cameo appearances. Not just Scott and Bonnington but Joe Brown, Mick Burke and Lionel Terray. There’s a wonderful story about the latter involving aid climbing and a large portion of humble pie but I won’t spoil your reading by recounting it.

I haven’t met Clive but he comes across as a climbers’ climber, down to earth with a wonderful sense of humour. Perhaps he’s the antidote to some of the more well known, press beloved names, who come across as less than saintly in this warts and all history. There are a lot of narrow escapes, dark humour abounds and many of Clive’s friends and fellow climbers died in the mountains or on crags. As one protagonist says, “You’ve only done the route when you’re safely in the bar, “having survived a falling boulder on the descent from a big alpine climb.

It’s a quirky book and I mean that in a good way. Not just climbing exploits but the complexities of juggling family and work lives against a backdrop of natural highs from climbing and the corresponding lows when things go pear shaped.

Easily readable, I devoured half the book on Saturday when we stopped for a long lunch break whilst canoeing. Sitting in the sun, looking across the sea to Rum and it’s own Cuillin reminded me what a special place we live in. Chapter followed chapter, seamlessly as I was totally engrossed from the start.

Towards The Ogre is a great counterpoint to glossy, lavish productions by mammoth publishing houses and tells the often forgotten other side of the stories. There’s a fantastic selection of photos, all of historic importance and well chosen to illustrate the text. Hopefully, this book will act as an inspiration both to future climbers but also to contemporaries of Clive to put pen to paper.

A bit on Adrian Trendall

  • Adrian’s passion for climbing started in the mid 1980’s with rock climbing and winter climbing courses at Glenmore Lodge. He then climbed all over the UK from the Old Man of Hoy in the North to the Sennen in the South. He has climbed extensively in North Wales and Pembrokshire as a climbing guide as well as for pleasure. Adrian has also climbed some of the classics routes in Chamonix (Frendo Spur, Papillon’s Arete, North Face of the Tour Ronde, North Face of the Grande Jorasses, Traverse of the Drus to name a few) and also in Yosemite ( Half Dome, Salathe Wall, The Nose of El Capitan and Salathe, Lost Arrow Spire), Smith Rock in Origon, Owens River Gorge in California.
  • Adrian has mountain leading and climbing qualifications and spent 12 years (until 2011) working for Ogwen Cottage in Snowdonia as a climbing instructor, walking guide and outdoor instructor for Birmingham city council – outdoor education unit. He worked extensively with children from disadvantaged backgrounds but also with adults multi-pitch climbing, instructing on SPA and ML qualifications and Team Building courses for private organisations. Before working at Ogwen he worked as on Dartmoor guiding walking groups on organised walking tours over the moors.
  • Since 2011 until June 2017 he has been freelance from the edge of Dartmoor with frequent long stay visits to Skye for climbing/scrambling ridge traverses, photography, research and writing. He currently putting the finishing touches to a guide for the legendary Cuillin Ridge Traverse. Adrian is passionate about the Cuillin Hills, from the early history, climbing, events as well as the flora and fauna. He is a gentle natured person who has a wealth of experience guiding people in the mountains professionally 

This two-volume guidebook provides detailed coverage of the iconic Cuillin Ridge, a 12km traverse on the Isle of Skye. Over two volumes, this guide covers everything needed to prepare for and complete a successful traverse over this spectacular ridge. Showcasing the main traverse and the other classic scrambles in the area, both volumes feature official Harvey mapping, numbered topos and corresponding detailed route description.

The first volume provides notes on training, gear and logistics, alongside 10 classic scrambles that can be used as practice routes for the traverse of the whole ridge. This volume also includes in-depth route description and advice for completing the traverse in winter. The second volume focuses on the traverse itself and is the perfect booklet to carry while attempting to complete this renowned scramble. Across ten sections, it explains step by step how to tackle the ridge, as well as providing easier climbing alternatives (Cuillin Ridge Light) for the harder climbing sections.

The ridge can be completed in one or two days, either as TRIAD (the ridge in a day) or CREST (Cuillin Ridge Expedition Style Traverse). The first volume provides advice about which approach to choose, as well as a list of bivi sites on the Ridge for those who choose the CREST option. By also providing an appendix of further reading and useful webcams, this guide offers everything needed to get inspired and get out on the Cuillin Ridge.

This is a Classic guide wish I had it in my early days! Heavy Whalley

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Books, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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