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January 29 , 2008

The Central Buttress of Scafell

A collection of essays selected and introduced by Graham Wilson


Few climbs are awarded the honour of being reduced to their initials. CB, the Central Buttress of Scafell, considered for years to be the hardest climb in the British Isles, is one of them. ‘Have any of you ever noticed a bayonet-shaped crack descending from the skyline about midway between Moss Ghyll and Botterill’s Crack on Scawfell? No? Has it never occurred to you that between these two climbs there is a stretch of nearly two hundred feet of unscaled rock? No?’- Ashley P Abraham, 1907. Despite this attempt by the president of the Fell & Rock Climbing Club to goad the younger generation into action, it was another seven years before Siegfried Herford made the first ascent of Central Buttress. Ten historic essays, reproduced by courtesy of the FRCC and the Yorkshire Ramblers’ Club, chart the stages by which this legendary route was besieged, conquered and finally, apparently, domesticated. Or was it? In his introduction and commentary, Graham Wilson assesses the growth of the myth, the challenges of the climb and its status one hundred years on. And, as a coda, a twenty-first-century account by a young female climber reflects on the achievements of those who went before.
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