Vertical Pleasure

Review by planetFear
Friday 8th September 2006

Mick Fowler’s first book, Vertical Pleasure, has been reprinted in a slightly revised edition after his success over the last year with his award winning second book, On Thin Ice.

Vertical Pleasure charts Fowler’s life from his early climbing forays in Europe with his Dad, right through to his ever increasing exploits in the UK and overseas.

Put simply, this is a great book and its easy to see why this (and subsequently On Thin Ice) was nominated for the prestigious Boardman Tasker Award. Fowler’s writing is excellent, constantly keeping the reader entertained with numerous tales that surround his climbing exploits.

Fowler has been one of the leading UK alpinists for many years, regularly putting up new routes wherever he climbs. His passion for new routes and the unknown is one of the recurring themes in this book as he charts his climbing education from climbing on the Southern Sandston to his expeditions to South America and the Himalaya.

Fowler’s passion for climbing and the adventures it brings runs right through this book. His achievements are even more astounding as he manages to juggle an immense drive to climb with a full-time job as a taxman in central London. Truly a dedicated climber, Fowler regularly drove from London to Scotland on a Friday (usually in clapped out mini-vans), climbed Saturday and Sunday, returning Monday to his working desk for 9am!! .

Fowler does not describe the routes he does in great technical detail, instead he brings to life the people and the tales of the stories around each climb and the impact they have on his life. Indeed, if it was not for external knowledge of how impressive his accomplishments have been, you would be forgiven to greatly underestimate the difficulty and seriousness of his climbing. Fowler is not a man who shouts from the rooftops about his climbing, he makes each climb look like an everyday adventure when they are most certainly not!

Highlights include his run-in with the police on the cliffs of Dover, ice climbing in central London(!) and Fowler’s almost insatiable appetite for ‘adventurous’ sea cliff climbing. Vertical Pleasure is a great book and should be on the reading list of pretty much anyone. Fowler does not dwell on the technical details or the grades of route he climbs, instead telling the stories around each chapter in his life and the people and places that he visits.

I personally judge the success of a book on its ‘put down ability’ and on this point the book shortened many nights sleep as I read ‘just another few pages’. I haven’t read On Thin Ice yet… but I soon will be as Vertical Pleasure was a cracking read!

Vertical Pleasure: Early climbs in Britain, the Alsp, the Andes and the Himalaya or the secret life of a Taxman by Mick Fowler

Publisher: Baton Wicks
RRP: £16.99

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