Second-hand Books at Outside by The Book Man

About 5 years ago, I started a second-hand book section in the shop. I’m delighted that it now attracts a loyal band of customers looking for that out-of-print title that has previously eluded them at a sensible price.

It all started when Ken Wilson asked me to sell some of his books after his retirement. Since then I have sourced books from book fairs, charity shops, the Internet and from Outside customers who no longer have the space or desire to keep all their books.

So far, I have just about managed to maintain a sufficient supply to keep the shelves full of interesting old mountaineering and climbing books. There is even a selection of foreign language books. With books priced reasonably low at between £2.50 and £25.00, the turnover is quite high and therefore you will never know what you might find.

The following 1st editions have all recently been sold: Hard Rock - Ken Wilson; Yosemite Climber -  George Meyers; Kamet Conquered – Frank Smythe; I Chose to Climb – Chris Bonington; My Vertical World – Jerzy Kukuczka; Mountaineering in Scotland – W H Murray; 50 Years of Alpinism – Riccardo Cassin; High Peak – Eric Byne & Geoffrey Sutton.

Prices depend on scarcity and condition but in general I try to beat comparable books that are for sale on the Internet.

The above books have not been processed yet. Several are signed and some are quite collectible.

I have a collection of over 1200 mountaineering /climbing books so here’s a few lists for you:

These lists change daily because it’s an impossible task but today…

5 compelling books that I have read recently:

  1. Tears of the Dawn: Jules Lines
  2. The Tower: Kelly Cordes
  3. The Bond: Simon McCartney
  4. The Push: Tommy Caldwell
  5. The Magician’s Glass: Ed Douglas 

5 Books that have inspired me:

  1. Snow on the Equator: H W Tilman
  2. High Peak: Eric Byne & Geoffrey Sutton
  3. Four Against Everest: Woodrow Wilson Sayre
  4. Master of Rock: Pat Ament
  5. Feet in the Clouds: Richard Askwith

5 books that I would keep (if I had to get rid of the rest):

  1. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: Hermann Buhl – a present from my mum & dad and one of the first mountaineering books I read.
  2. The Ascent of Everest: John Hunt – with 11 signatures from the 1953 team.
  3. Classic Rock (2nd edition, 2007): Ken Wilson – inscribed by Ken with a photo opposite that just happens to be me with my mate Mick Langton on Gillercombe Buttress.

No apologies needed for the last two!

  1. Mountain Words: British hill and crag literature: my first book collaboration with Boardman Tasker shortlisted author Graham Wilson.
  2. Forty Plus: Challenge walks in the North of England – also co-written with Graham Wilson.

As a bibliophile and collector myself I love this part of my job, so If you have any comments, questions, or would like some advice about buying or selling, please email (chris.harle@outside.co.uk) or ask for me in the shop when you next visit (I am normally in the shop on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays).

By Chris Harle
The 'Book Man'

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Tenzing, Hillary Everest Marathon

On the 29th May, the anniversary of the first ascent of Everest, I completed the Tenzing, Hillary Everest Marathon (THEM) Ultra Extreme 60K. It was my 3rd attempt, having entered in 2015 but abandoned due to the earthquake. In 2016 I lead a group to Everest basecamp but was unable to run after helping an aspiring runner with an artificial leg onto a rescue helicopter on Race Day.

This year there were some 200 competitors on the standard Marathon (which I completed in 2013 and 2014) and just 14 for the Ultra. I met them for the first time on the start line on the Khumbu Glacier (5330m) at 6am on the 29th May. Some may have been famous in their home country.

Nationalities included a Russian, Japanese, Australian, Americans, about half a dozen local Nepali and an old fella from the UK, standing at the back wondering if he’d made a mistake. There was talk of having trained in altitude chambers. Some professional endurance athletes listed all the other ultras they had completed, whilst I shuffled about looking at my shoes. My aim was to be the oldest and probably slowest to finish the Ultra. However, I wasn’t in the end.

The first few KM are on the ice of the Khumbu Glacier and by the time I’d reached the steep moraine leading from it, I had lost sight of the others ahead of me. I also felt rough, unusual for me having had to urgently visit the toilet tent several times in the night.

The first quarter of the route once off the Khumbu Glacier was straightforward and I covered 15Km in about 3hrs. Mostly descending I reached the village of Pangboche in a further 2hrs. The altitude written on the lodge wall was 4000m. Here my friend Nepalese Doctor Rahot was at the check point. I told him how I felt, he smiled, dug out a Snickers and a Gel from my pack, gave me an apple and told me I'd be all right. He said the other Ultras were only 2 hours ahead!

I was joined here by Krishna, a volunteer local chap (20yrs old) to support me in the next long and dangerous leg. The 15km long loop up and down the Gokyo Valley to Nha La at 4400m. If these facts were not bad enough the path was mostly no more than 80cms wide and above sheer drops of 100mtres.

After Phortse, Krishna said he would drop down, cross the bridge and meet me on the way back down (yeah sure I thought). I struggled on in full bad weather gear in the cold wind and some rain following the red flag markers across the middle of nowhere and finally reached the bridge at Nha La at 5pm (11 hrs in and 1 hour short of being timed out).

The bridge lead me to familiar ground, the trekkers trail to Gokyo. I soon reached Machermo settlement at 4413m. The settlement is in a shallow valley and as I puffed my way out I heard voices calling me. I looked back and saw two other Ultra runners from Australia and USA coming behind me. At first I wondered if they were on a second lap!

We continued down together and amazingly an hour later Krishna, true to his word reappeared to help.

At Dole settlement it got dark, but between us we had enough headlights to keep going down through the forest and across torrents to Portse Tenga (the bridge where Krishna crossed). The worst was yet to come though and I knew it. It was the hour or more of steep climbing back up to Mong La pass at 4000m (but seems like a week).

At about half height my Australian companion, tucked in behind me at my slow pace, said that he thought the hill wasn't too bad, 20 mins later he asked if it was far to go, then after another 10 he sat down (to wait for his friend from USA) he explained. Then Shikar Pandey, the organiser phoned to check I was OK. "Fine" I said just completing the race, "see you in a couple of hours".

From the Mong La, Krishna and I took off at a brisk downhill walk leaving the others. They were OK with their Minders and we could, with a bit of imagination smell the finishing line. Eventually we reached Namche Bazaar (3400m) and crossed it at 11pm or thereabouts. All the officials were gone, nobody to hand out medals or give me the snazzy 1970s style official track suit. Only Shikar was there in a small tent with his lap top and a headlight. "Well done Tom Dai "he said, "Would you like a beer?" “Some water would be great if you have some "I croaked.

Krishna and I shook hands and went our separate ways.

By Tom Richardson
Footwear and expedition specialist

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The Call of Karakoram

I can’t say that I am a great enthusiast for the current “Bucket List” of places to go and things to do in your lifetime. It’s not that I’m old and grumpy (although I am) but it seems to me that it encourages people to do very similar things, in an easy way, making adventure into mere tourism.

Lots of people have an ambition to see Mount Everest and visit the Base Camp for example. They can do so by joining the caravan of trekkers, all on the same trail, staying at the same purpose built lodges and taking pretty much the same photographs to show the folks back home. It’s nice, but hardly an adventure. Sure, there is the problem of the acclimatisation, but otherwise relatively few objective dangers.

In contrast to Everest, K2 Base Camp the second highest mountain on earth, or indeed anywhere in the Karakoram Mountains of Northern Pakistan, is not on many bucket lists. To undertake a trek in Karakoram is an adventure and without question the most dramatic mountains on earth.

Camping under the Cathedral from Urdukas

There are minimal roads or trails and both get regularly swept away by landslides, rockfalls and glacier movements. There are no lodges in the mountains, camping is the only option. The terrain is such that even as a member of an organised and professionally lead group, participants need to have some mountain awareness and judgement.

Like the Khumbu, the local Balti people are tough mountain people who are great company and have a fantastic sense of fun. Unlike the Khumbu area of Nepal, there are no fleets of commercial helicopters circling like vultures to pick you up and fly you to medical help or your 5-star hotel in Kathmandu. The Pakistani Air Force can, weather permitting evacuate people from one place, but most evacuations are done on horseback, challenging for everyone, including the horse.

All together it is one of the most rewarding adventure trekking areas in the world.

People are often put off going to Pakistan, thinking that there is a terrorism risk. I have been visiting Pakistan since 1997 and the greatest dangers are still the same. Road traffic accidents and mountain hazards. The best way to avoid these dangers is to fly from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad then onto Skardu, thus avoiding the drive up the Karakoram Highway.

The large comfortable plane flies over the Karakoram Mountains and directly over the summit of Nanga Parbat, one of the highlights of the trip. Many extra steps have also been taken by the authorities to improve security and of course more terrorist attacks have happened in the UK in recent times.

Here is a selection of images from my two trips to the Karakoram leading groups for KE Adventure Travel this summer.

The Imposing Trangos Nameless Tower

The Summit of K2

The Team in front of K2

By Tom Richardson
Footwear and expedition specialist

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Tom Richardson
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Rum and Whisky

A potentially strenuous week of sea kayaking around the Small Isles became a much more laid-back holiday due to the high winds that disrupted our original plans. Although we paddled on 6 out of 7 days they were only short journeys to get to some of the idyllic beach-side campsites that this part of Scotland can offer.

Among the skerries off Arisaig

The fact that tourist vehicles are not allowed on any of the isles will give you some idea of what to expect. Eigg is the most populated with about 100 residents. It is a community run island, and very welcoming and friendly. An Sgurr (393m), the island’s dominant feature, is an absolute must-do hill walk – an outstanding ascent with spectacular views.

The mountains of Rum & Skye from An Sgurr, Eigg

Thanks to a retired wildlife ranger who lived near our camp we could get up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and revised ferry timetables. So, the following morning we risked the waves and the wind to get back to the harbour and return to Mallaig on the mainland via the ferry.

Harbour ramp at Loch Scresort, Rum

Later in the week we got the ferry to Rum (a bargain at just over £8.00 return including our loaded sea kayaks for a 1hr 15min crossing). By contrast the people here were less welcoming (except the helpful ferry man and the energetic Kinloch Castle tour guide). Perhaps thousands of tourists and a National Nature Reserve with a herd of over 1500 red deer don’t mix, but we were glad to escape Kinloch and paddle around to Caves Bay on the east coast. We stayed on this isolated beach for 2 nights, where plenty of driftwood, food and whisky ensured hours of contentment sat on the beach by the fire. Tracks on the beach in the morning suggested that we were visited overnight by both an otter and red deer. During the day, we walked along the coast to the famous bothy called Dibidil before striking up into the hills where a golden eagle and many red deer graced us with their presence. Heard but not seen were the burrowing Manx shearwaters. Some 120,000 pairs live high on the mountain and only venture out to feed in the middle of the night. From the top of Rum’s highest mountain, Askival (812m) it was obvious that a complete traverse of the Cuillin of Rum would be a sporty scramble and would have to wait for a return visit.

Caves Bay, Rum

Perhaps our most usual wildlife sighting was what we first thought were dolphins and then porpoises. However, Martin made the crucial observation that they did not have fins! As we got closer it became apparent that they were young common seals ‘porpoising’ along. Not something either of us had witnessed before.

So, no midges, dramas or epics. Just a very satisfying paddling holiday.

Rum and whisky


By Chris Harle
The 'Book Man'

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Chris Harle
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MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2017

Discovering Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland of our childhood was a no-go country and has never showed on our radar of possible holiday destinations. However, my 86-year-old mum’s visit there last year inspired us to think again.

Despite dire warnings about the rough Irish Sea we booked the Birkenhead to Belfast ferry and enjoyed the flat calm of untroubled waters throughout the 8-hour crossing.

Calms seas leaving Birkenhead

We travelled in our small campervan using the luxury of proper campsites on 6 out of 7 nights. Perhaps we’re going soft but the electric hook-up, level hard standing, full facilities and quietness easily justified the expense.

The Antrim Hills were a gentle introduction to the charms of this new landscape with views in all directions including across the sea to Scotland. The following day the much-anticipated Causeway Coast Path was every bit as spectacular as expected. The 15-miles from Ballintoy to Bushmills via White Park Bay and the Giant’s Causeway was possibly the best coastal walk that we have ever done.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

While on the northern coastline we couldn’t miss the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge so we wisely arrived at the opening time to avoid the coach parties that would soon be arriving. Later that day we explored the unheard of before, Binevenagh Cliffs in County Derry overlooking the Magilligan coastal plain – a weird and wonderful place in swirling mists and haunted by squawking peregrines.

Then we moved south to Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains, where a bad forecast gave us the opportunity to visit Belfast. The highlights for us were the several second-hand bookshops we explored and the famous Titanic Quarter.

Our week’s finale was to be a mountain day in the Mournes to include a 3-star rock climb and an ascent of Northern Ireland’s highest summit, Slieve Donard (850m). I had really wanted Jane to be enthusiastic about the prospect of climbing Devil’s Rib on Satan’s Buttress, but all I got was a non-committal grunt. I interpreted this as ‘I’d rather not do it, but if you want to that’s just about OK with me.’

Slieve Donard from the top of the Devil’s Coach Road

After 1½ hours we reached the Mourne Wall and headed off towards the Devil’s Rib via an old smuggler’s path called the Brandy Pad. The strengthening wind then calmed down enough to encourage us to get geared up beneath an impressive soaring line. However, the advertised easier start was wet and after an initial slithering foray and I descended and started up the drier but harder variant. As I climbed up I just knew that Jane wasn’t going to like the awkward high stepping moves with loose handholds. Then I noticed that the views had disappeared, the clouds had rolled in and an up-draught of wind and drizzle were beginning to make things unpleasant. I managed to set up a belay in a slightly sheltered corner and hailed Jane. She immediately started to shake her head and mutter; this was not a good sign. It took a while but with a little helpful tugging, quite a lot of swearing, the occasional use of knees and much determination she made it.

Jane on pitch 2 of Devil’s Rib

Jane’s hands were visibly shaking so we quickly sorted ourselves out and I was off again up the exposed arête. Although marginally easier the damp rock, buffeting wind and unfeeling hands made it an un-nerving battle upwards. I tried to escape left but this was a mistake and wasted time. My fumbling hands dropped a karabiner while trying to protect the final moves but I didn’t care. I screamed into the howling wind for Jane to start climbing. There was more shaking of the head and cursing but she doggedly made progress. I thought that Jane would be really angry with me but amazingly she pulled over the top with a high-five and a broad smile in spite of the full-body shake through cold.

Jane smiling (?) at the top

We were strangely happy (or perhaps just relieved that we’d avoided an epic) with our adventure and quickly packed away the gear and re-energised with some chocolate bars. For the record the V. Diff grading with a Severe start seemed somewhat irrelevant in such conditions.

Back at the Mourne Wall on the col we deposited our sacks and completed the final 280m to the top of Slieve Donard. No views and too windy to stop but who cares – a grand day out celebrated with a pint of Guinness when we eventually got back to the car park in Newcastle.

The journey back across the Irish Sea was equally calm and we look forward to a return visit.

MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2017
By Chris Harle
The 'Book Man'

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Chris Harle
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