Launch set for Banff Rock guidebook
If you ask long-time Rockies climber Chris Perry what he likes about writing guidebooks, he’s quick to reply.
“Nothing! I don’t like anything about doing guidebooks!”
That, however, hasn’t stopped him, since Banff Rock: A Guidebook to Rock Climbing in Banff National Park Canada is his fifth such publication.
Twelve years in the creation, the author of two Bow Valley and two Ghost area climbing guidebooks is pleased to launch his newest book. Routes range from single-pitch sport climbs to multi-pitch trad climbs, many in previously undocumented areas, in this first publication since Murray Toft’s 1985 2nd edition of Banff Rock Climbs.
Working on the book while commuting from his Canmore home to teach at SAIT’s civil engineering technology department, Perry said he developed an annual routine until his retirement last year. From fall through February he’d focus on the book, pushing it aside as his SAIT work grew busy until June.
“Then I’d want to go climbing,” he said.
When the summer rock season was over, he’d return to the book.
With 400 photos on its 512 pages, the self-published volume shows careful attention to details including rounded corners, meticulous route topos and colour images with clearly marked route lines. The written descriptions are comprehensive, beginning with an indication whether the route is bolted or requires trad gear, followed by pitch-by-pitch beta. Up-to-date info on anchors, rappel stations, approaches and descents will be appreciated by locals and visiting climbers alike.
Perry, however, is quick to credit the professional talents of local proofreader Anne Ryall, photo process whiz Alexandra Kobalenko, map creator Barb Bertch and seasoned guidebook writer John Martin.
Nearly all the photos were taken by Perry, with many featuring his son and frequent climbing partner, Ian.
While some have commented on his choice to feature U.S. rock star Tommy Caldwell on the cover climbing The Shining on Mount Louis’ Diamond Face, Perry is quick to defend it, pointing out that Canmore local Brandon Pullan is also in the image belaying Caldwell – albeit too small to recognize - and that the photo was taken by Canada’s own top rock climber, Sonnie Trotter.
“It’s the hardest route around here by a long way, and Canadians are secure people,” Perry said. “They don’t mind. It never occurred to me anyone would object until someone said something.”
The back cover image, he added, features Cardiac Arête on the Grand Sentinel near Mount Temple on the back cover, and a dedication to Rockies’ climber, route developer and explorer Dave Thomson.
The extensive history section, written by Pullan, is an essential component, beginning and ending at the Bow Valley landmark, Mount Louis, first climbed by legendary Austrian guide Conrad Kain and Albert McCarthy in 1916.
“That and The Shining were accomplished by the top rock climbers in Canada of their era,” Perry said. “It’s important to know who these people were and to know their roles in the history and progression of climbing in this area.”
To compile the best information possible, Perry said he preferred to climb the routes than e-mailing and phoning others.
“It is quicker to do it yourself, but when it’s 13c, I take Sonnie Trotter’s word for it,” he said.
And while the writing and publishing is not generally as enjoyable, Perry said he simply can’t help himself.
“Now that it’s done, I keep looking up at (Ha Ling) subconsciously thinking when is the light the best so I can get the best shot,” he admitted.
Perry will sign books at a launch party at Communitea on Saturday, Sept. 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The informal celebration is open to the public with a cash bar.
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