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WALL AND ROOF CLIMBING Geoffrey Winthrop Young 2010 [1905] NEW PAPERBACK Multiple copies available
By Young, Geoffrey Winthrop
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UK, 2010 [1905]. Five years after successfully launching the original in the Night Climbing series, The Roof-Climbers Guide to Trinity, on an unsuspecting world in 1900, Geoffrey Winthrop Young penned an astonishingly erudite parody of the literature guides of the time. With extensive stegophilic (person whose pastime is climbing the outside of buildings) references and quotations drawn from the literature of the the last two thousand years and more, he nearly manages to prove that Catullus and Aristophanes, Shakespeare and Longfellow - amongst very many others - were avid enthusiasts and exponents of roof climbing.
 
In several inter-connected sections GWY explores and explains the different ages and types of building and the necessary differences in materials used prompting the alternative ways of tackling said. He examines the rich literary history of the sport in global proverbs, poetry and prose. The varied costumes, the prevalence of women roof-climbers and geographic differences in thought are all woven together in an almost exhaustive expose of this sport that remains so popular today but has a philosophy as difficult to define now as then:

'The change of centuries has brought no cessation in the perennial pestering as to the nature of this climbing infatuation. The unenlightened still press with old-time pertinacity for a logical exposition of the instinct which induces rational beings to spread themselves over knobby countries or polish uncomfortable walls; mountaineers have long abandoned the attempt to answer, and wallers may imitate their compassionate shrug. What philosophic system could congeal into frigid words this harmonious exaltation?'

We have no doubt the guide will be as useful now as then but concur with the contemporary reviewer when he notes:
 
'As it is probable that this review will lead to a large demand for the work in big cities by professional and business men, it is fair to point out to intending purchasers that the book is theoretical only, and not intended to take the place of a local climbers' guide, such as the Roof Climber's Guide to Trinity.' New Paperback.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geoffrey Winthrop Young (1876 – 1958) was a British climber, poet and educator, and author of several notable books on mountaineering.

Young began rock climbing shortly before his first term at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied Classics and won the Chancellor's Medal for English Verse two years running. While there, Young wrote a humorous college climbing guide called The Roof-Climber's Guide to Trinity, in part a parody of early alpine guidebooks, in part a useful reference work for those, like him, who were keen to clamber up Cambridge's highest spires.

During the Edwardian Period, and up until the outbreak of hostilities heralding World War I, Young made several new and difficult ascents in the Alps, including noted routes on the Zermatt Breithorn (the 'Younggrat'), the west ridge of the Gspaltenhorn, on the west face of the Weisshorn, and a dangerous and rarely repeated route on the south face of the Täschhorn. His finest rock climb was the Mer de Glace face of the Aiguille du Grépon. In 1911, with H. O. Jones, he ascended the Brouillard ridge of Mont Blanc and made the first complete traverse of the west ridge of the Grandes Jorasses, and the first decent of the ridge to the Col des Hirondelles. His favoured, but not only, guide was Joseph Knubel of St Niklaus.

Winthrop Young also put up new routes on the crags of the Lake District and Wales. He was elected president of the Climbers' Club in 1913, and he organised the Pen-y-Pass gatherings that propelled the advancement of rock climbing and included such technical luminaries as J. M. Archer Thompson, George Leigh Mallory, Siegfried Herford, John Percy Farrar and Oscar Eckenstein. These parties, beginning in earnest about 1907, and sometimes reaching sixty men, women and children, flooded the hotel and overflowed into Eckenstein's miner's cabin and various tents. They came to an end in 1914.

During the war, Young was at first a correspondent for the liberal Daily News, but later, as a conscientious objector, was active in the FAU, the Friends' Ambulance Unit. He received several decorations, but on 31 August 1917 an explosion caused injuries requiring the amputation of one of his legs. After the amputation, Young walked sixteen miles in two days to avoid being captured by the Austrians. He continued alpine climbing for a number of years – using a specially designed artificial leg that accepted a number of attachments for snow and rock work – and climbed the Matterhorn in 1928.

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