The Forbes Arete on the Aiguille du Chardonnet. I Couldn’t have a better route, a better day, better conditions nor a better comrade for my first Alpine peak. Imprinted on my memory for ever was the Frenchies charging up the hill, bawling for “Silence!” in the certain hope that this would avert avalanches. Fortunately the mountain was cowed into surrender, and obeyed, so we emerged from the glacier unscathed. The summit was toasted in sardines and orange juice. The Oxford contingent clapped our first ascent in mitten muffled applause. an uexpected treat was superb views of the Walker Spur. I didn’t realise I would get better acquainted twenty years later.
Mons Graupius reviews
“A highly entertaining read. The beguiling shifts in the narrative from the earthy to the erudite give the writing a distinctive voice, characterised by sustained wry humour which kept me chuckling from page to page. These are juxtaposed with lyrical descriptive passages which transport the reader to magical – sometimes nerve-tingling – sojourns in the high and wild places of the Scottish mountains and the Alps. All of this is part of an interwoven and perceptive memoir of the manners and mores of life in Scotland in general and its capital Edinburgh in particular, at a point in time – with again the humour caricaturing some character types and the fond rivalries as between Edinburgh and Glasgow, highlands and lowlands – and even managing to bring a light touch to the sometimes disfiguring sectarian religious divide which many Scots know only too well. Well worth reading, especially for lovers of Scotland, Edinburgh, and the hills and mountains.”
–Ken Jack, Amazon review
“If you’re Scottish, a climber and of a certain age you will have no problem identifying with the social and recreational context of the book and its central character Moira .
“For those who are none of the above, Mons Graupius is an eloquent and entertaining introduction to the somewhat occult world of climbing in the nineteen-fifties and sixties. With humour, wit and intelligence it captures the essence of the country and the climbing.
“With a wealth of historical, social and climbing references, both modern and ancient, it challenges the reader with as many questions as answers. It takes them into an environment that lies deeper than the crags and hills to which our heroine is drawn, and which was founded on social mores that are perhaps extinct in the modern age.
“Well worth a read.”
best in france
My first Alpine route -brilliant!
one of the two greatest north faces in the alps. the other is there north face of the eiger
A test piece. every climber’s aspiration
scene of great days out on the hill. successes and one nearly drastic misadventure
By Amazon Customer on February 25, 2016
If you’re Scottish, a climber and of a certain age you will have no problem identifying with the social and recreational context of the book and its central character Moira .
For those who are none of the above, Mons Graupius is an eloquent and entertaining introduction to the somewhat occult world of climbing in the nineteen-fifties and sixties. With humour, wit and intelligence it captures the essence of the country and the climbing.
With a wealth of historical, social and climbing references, both modern and ancient, it challenges the reader with as many questions as answers. It takes them into an environment that lies deeper than the crags and hills to which our heroine is drawn, and which was founded on social mores that are perhaps extinct in the modern age.
Well worth a read.
A captivating read, one which was hard to put down. One is drawn into something of a love/hate relationship with the heroine who is surrounded by a host of complex characters, all finely drawn with an eye for detail of time and place. The climbing scenes are spot on, especially kept in historical context as is the whole book. It is thick with the history , lore and vernacular of Scotland making this a most desirable book for Anglophiles.
Dennis Grey’s Review of Mons graupius
I have now read your novel, and my reaction is…..Wow!
If someone had sent me this, minus any indication as to the author
you would have been the last name I would have suggested as the creator.
I found it slow to get into,but then it became a page turner.
So many of your scenes brought back memories of my own time living in Edinburgh
and climbing in the Highlands (and lowlands, Traprain etc).
You also capture well the leitmotif of the era before modern equipment and training
changed climbing from a rather eccentric pastime, followed by ‘characters’ who were
on the fringes of society, to mainstream ‘athletes’ taking part now in a very organised game.
Your chapter with the epic on Ben Nevis, Observatory Ridge and the death of Dermot had me
Your book brought back to mind the late Dave Cook’s view and criticism that modern climbing
literature lacks a reality as to its participants lives. Often one reads a climbing book, and never is there
anything which tells of the largest part of their lives, with work and family considerations besides the
action on the crags. And your book avoids such, it is balanced with both ordinary life considerations and the
demands of rock and ice. Set in an era rich in social change and the climbing history of Scotland.
So congratulations on an outstanding work,which does capture the reality of a life lived at this time
of such major developments.
Background of author
Gavin Anderson has been a mountain climber since his early teens, when he went walking with his father in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. Since then he has completed a considerable number of Classic ascents in North and South America, the European Alps, and on his home turf in all four corners of the British Isles. His ascent of Alpamayo in the Peruvian Andes, ‘The World’s most beautiful Mountain,’ was a boyhood dream come true . These experiences have been put to good use in the realistic details he has injected into his writing.
Likewise his experiences as a Latin teacher in a private school in Columbus, Ohio, and love of the language have found their way into Mons Graupius, his first novel. His short stories have been published in many journals. For example in the Scottish Mountaineering Journal and Loose Scree. A selection of his short stories have been put together in his first book, “On Belay.” This selection has been highly recommended for the clarity of the writing, and the exuberant creativity of the tales.
Praise for On Belay; “The stories in On Belay are in some cases humorous, others are gripping! They are inventive and written in a most appealing and frank style. I am happy to recommend them to be read by one and all!” Dennis Gray Distinguished English Mountaineer
Scottish Mountaineering Journal; Ian Thow;
“The climbing sequences all feel authentic. The landscape description is vivid and the dialogue is well observed.”
“‘On Belay’ is a top pick for readers looking for tales of true adventure.” Mid West Book Revue.
“The author’s adventures, real or fanciful, and sometimes a mixture of both, had me by turns gripped with trepidation and chortling with mirth, sometimes a mixture of both. A good read.” Ken Jack
Praise for short story. ‘We never knew her Name.’
“A well-crafted and moving essay.” Ian Hamilton. Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal.
“Anyone involved in a mountain tragedy will recognize the feelings expressed by the author. Though few of us have the skills to express them with such sensitivity.… Gripping and exciting writing.” Paul Brian. Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal.
The title of his first novel Mons Graupius harks back to a first century CE battle somewhere in the Scottish highlands. Despite numerous trial archeological excavations no one has discovered the actual site of this battle between the Caledonians (Scots) and the Roman legions. According to the Roman historian, Tacitus, Mons Graupius represented a clash of ideologies between the Scots primitive but free existence against the luxurious servitude offered by Roman civilization in the time of the emperor-Nero. This historical episode has its echo in Moira’s aspirations to be a mountaineer, when the rich spoilt heiress of Italian origin is rebuffed by the plain-loaf outlook of the Scottish Working Class mountain climber. The book describes her rites of passage and the conflicts internal and external that Moira must come to terms with. It is a remembrance of the Calvinistic Edinburgh of the last century, and is at the same time a paean to the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.