In the interest of us all trying to get better at rock climbing, I thought I would take some time to talk about the book Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills, by Craig Leubban. I have owned this book for a couple of years now, and it has been a great resource for the beginner. I admit that by the time I had actually purchased this book, I had a pretty good handle on most of the information in the book already. That being said, there were certain things that I still took away from it, so I am still glad I have it in my library (or in my case, my iPad, which I read through the Kindle app).
The author was an AMGA Rock guide, which gives some credibility right off the bat. What is perhaps not known, is the fact that Craig was killed on an expedition in North Cascades National Park. Please note however, that the details of the accident were just that, an accident. Craig was crushed by a chunk of ice that decided to let go at the wrong time. The piece of ice was 100 feet high, 20 feet long, and 10 feet thick. What is remarkable is that the piece of protection that he had placed held his fall, in spite of the ice, and prevented the rest of his team from being put at risk. This man knew what he was doing, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Details on Craig Luebben’s Tragic Climbing Accident. In my opinion, this does offer some credibility to the author’s instruction.
Back to the book. This is a book on the basics. It covers a wide range of topics, from picking up your basic equipment, to belay techniques, to basic movement on rock. This is a book for those who are interested in learning about climbing outside, it does not have a lot of application for those who are just climbing indoors, though the climbing movement stuff would be reasonable.
The author uses images in a way that fits the text very well, and is able to describe many difficult movements through photographs and hand drawn cartoons. The author is an effective communicator and there is not a lot of fluff or superfluous text that would just fill up space in the book. If you are looking for a book where you are going to get something out of every page, this is that book.
The book also gives a very comprehensive view of the sport of rock climbing, from bouldering to trad climbing to multi-pitch big walls. It will fill you in on a lot of things, and is will likely open you up to a much bigger rock climbing world than you originally thought was out there.
The Not So Good
While this book covers a wide spread of a very large sport, it does not dig very deeply into any one of those areas. If you are looking for a book that is going to give you the specifics of a particular area of climbing, this is not that book. This book never claims to tell you everything, and each section can sometimes feel more like an overview than an instructional. This book touches on many elements of rock climbing, such as trad and big wall climbing, that require years of experience climbing before they should even be attempted. These parts of the book shouldn’t be taken as giving you a complete knowledge base.
Who Should Buy This Book
This book is designed for the individual who would like to know more about climbing, and perhaps has spent a lot of time inside, and is interested in venturing into outdoor climbing for the first time. It will give you a lot of information, but all of that information should be partnered with professional instruction. This book will also give you enough information to get you into your very own set of climbing gear, and so if you have not purchased any yourself, this is a great place to start.
For all of those that would like to learn more about rock climbing before you head outside for the first time, this is a great book. If you are looking for specific information about a specific aspect of climbing, I would choose another book.
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