Rubble Merchants, Slateheads and Others

The 24-hour daylight let us talk for longer than we should. Sat in our snow cave, a coffin which slowly melted and sagged around us, the light which shone through the door never faded. 

Andy Houseman, Nick Bullock, Tom Ripley and I talked of home. We were at the 14,000 ft. camp on Denali, the highest mountain in North America, and each night we’d chat shit for hours on end. Young alpinists, Tom and I lapped up everything the Old Guys said, and when Nick talked about Deep Play, our blank faces made him pull his serious face and look over his glasses at us. ‘You haven’t heard of Deep Play? It’s an incredible book...’

When we returned from the mountains I had only one thing on my mind: to eat as much as possible. Once my gluttony was sated, I sought out a copy of this legendary book and was promptly blown away, transported out to The Island and living on the dole.

I should explain: Paul Pritchard’s Deep Play describes his climbing and adventures around the world, in a time when climbers could live on the dole and live for the rock. Deep Play is also a term used to describe how climbing is ultimately a form of ‘play,’ but on a far more meaningful and serious level. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, won the Boardman-Tasker Award and is one of the definitive pieces of literature describing the climbing scene in the late 1980s.

‘Rubble Merchants, Slateheads and Others’ is one of my favourite chapters; it paints a rich and honest picture of the Llanberis scene; all wild nights, abject poverty, massive falls, the Slate and Gogarth. The intelligent and observant writing makes you feel you’re right there, amongst it, part of the mayhem. His passion for climbing burns through the pages, and now I live on the High Street it seems even more real.

Anyway, Paul has read this chapter for Niall Grimes’ ‘Jam Crack’ podcast, so check it out on the link below.

Jam Crack Podcast - 010

Tom LivingstoneComment