Chasing the Ephemeral: Fifty Routes for a Successful Scottish Winter, which was published by Mica Publishing last autumn, has won the Guidebook award at the prestigious Banff Book and Film Festival in Canada. (Photo Henning Wackerhage)
Several years ago, Tom Prentice from Mica Publishing asked me to write a book describing 50 of the finest Scottish winter routes. It seemed a clear brief at the outset, but the more we discussed it, the concept began to change. Many of the absolute best Scottish winter routes require good conditions and become climbable all at the same time. For me, being in the right place at the right time has always been the underlying Scottish winter climbing skill, so the selection criteria for the book evolved into a series of routes that cover the full range of climbing opportunities throughout the season – from snowed up rock routes in the first snows of November through to high up ice routes in April.
My house is crammed full of climbing books that have launched countless climbing adventures and continue to provide inspiration for many unrealised dreams. So it is very pleasing that Chasing the Ephemeral has been recognised at Banff, and the book is, in turn, inspiring others. Huge credit goes to Tom Prentice, not only for persuading me to write it in the first place, but also for his skill in turning a huge pile of raw material into such a fine finished article.
I am also indebted to the dozens of people who provided photographs and reviewed the text:
Dave Anderson, Rab Anderson, Stewart Anderson, Andy Bain, Keith Ball, Michael Barnard, David Barratt, Andy Brown, Chris Cartwright, George Cave, Sophie Grace Chappell, Geoff Cohen, Ben Cooling, Alan Crichton, Ken Crocket, Duncan Curry, Dave Cuthbertson, Peter Duggan, James Edwards, Steve Elliott, Roger Everett, Hamish Frost, Mike Gardner, Graeme Gatherer, Alan Halewood, Lee Harrison, Paul Headland, Ian Hey, Jim Higgins, Richard Hines, Steve Holmes, Andy Inglis, Murdoch Jamieson, Rob Jarvis, Jenny Jarvis, Craig Lamb, Ruth Love, Ewan Lyons, John Mackenzie, Alastair MacLean, Chris McDaid, George McEwan, Stuart McFarlane, Colin McGregor, Ian McIntosh, Robert McMurray, Alex Messenger, Dan Moore, Dafydd Morris, Neil Morrison, Scott Muir, Tim Neill, Grahame Nicoll, Andy Nisbet, Ian Parnell, Mike Pescod, Heike Puchan, Rob Reglinski, Helen Rennard, Ben Richardson, Christine Richardson, Dave Riley, Dave Ritchie, Niall Ritchie, John Roberts, Ali Rose, Marcello Sanguineti, Viv Scott, Davie Scott, Sandy Simpson, Iain Small, Helena Smith, Ian Stennett, Guy Steven, Karl Stewart, Tony Stone, Greg Strange, Ruth Taylor, Jim Teesdale, Alex Thomson, Alistair Todd, John Trudgill, Joris Volmer, Henning Wackerhage, Mike Watson, Roger Webb, Euan Whitaker, Brian Whitworth, Bob Wightman and Jeremy Windsor.
This book really was a team effort – I salute you all!
I applaud the other finalists in the Banff Guidebook category – Claude Vallier, Dimitar Dimitrov, James Rushforth, and Marc Bourdon – I look forward to admiring and learning from your work. And finally I thank the competition jury – Mayan Smith-Gobat, David Stevenson and Ian Welsted – for taking the time to properly understand what Chasing the Ephemeral is really about. At its core it is far more than a list of 50 routes, but a philosophy on how to play the Scottish winter climbing game.