Title: Tides: A Climber’s Voyage
Author: Nick Bullock
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing
Genre: Autobiography/Biography, Outdoors-mounteneering/climbing
Book format: Hardback
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Description: Nick Bullock is a climber who lives in a small green van, flitting between Llanberis, Wales, and Chamonix in the French Alps. Tides, Nick’s second book, is the much-anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut Echoes.
Now retired from the strain of work as a prison officer, Nick is free to climb. A lot. Tides is a treasury of his antics and adventures with some of the world’s leading climbers, including Steve House, Kenton Cool, Nico Favresse, Andy Houseman and James McHaffie. Follow Nick and his partners as they push the limits on some of the world’s most serious routes: The Bells! The Bells! and The Hollow Man on Gogarth’s North Stack Wall; the Slovak Direct on Denali; Guerdon Grooves on Buachaille Etive Mor; and the north faces of Chang Himal and Mount Alberta, among countless others.
Nick’s life can be equated to the rhythm of the sea. At high tide, he climbs, he loves it, he is good at it; he laughs and jokes, scares himself, falls, gets back up and climbs some more. Then the tide goes out and he finds himself alone, exposed, all questions and no answers. Self-doubt, grieving for friends or family, fearful, sometimes opinionated, occasionally angry – his writing more honest and exposed than in any account of a climb. Only when the tide turns is he able to forget once more.
Tides is a gripping memoir that captures the very essence of what it means to dedicate one’s life to climbing

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  The title of this book is very good! As the original description suggests, the mood and thoughts of the author in this book does change just like the tides of the sea. ‘Tides’ is a collection of essays which form a memoir of the authors life climbing.

I did enjoy reading this book although I did find I liked some chapters more than others. From the very start the author begins with the story of leaving his job of many years in the prison service in order to pursue his passion of climbing. Each chapter of the book, or essay, is a on a seperate story of climbing, with many of the stories featuring flash backs to the authors earlier life. I liked the way this was done, the ‘fash back’ moments are printed in a different font and give you a deeper sense into the author’s past and how that could have affected his climbs.

Tides book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

Something I found interesting about this book compared to others I’ve read is the way that Nick Bullock does at times criticise his own climbing ability and down plays his achievements and does it with good humour. These moments are part of deep self-reflection and with certain chapters you feel the sadness and darkness that he feels over certain experiences including with some relationships. But at other times his stories take on a humorous air, I especially liked one particular tale about his climb with a well-known individual and his own behaviour in trying to show off, I couldn’t help but laugh at that last part about kissing his boots! And the amazing story about what happened with a bear! It was a very engaging story, an obviously scary moment but described in a way that was funny.

Chapters which featured what happened to Nick’s family, among the stories of his climbs, make you feel more connected with him, I think I enjoyed reading this book much more because of these extra moments, than if it had been purely about the climbing.

Tides book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

I hadn’t read the author’s first book ‘Echos’ before reading this one but I have liked this and there’s no need to read the first book in order to enjoy this one. There are some glossy pages with photographs of some of Nick’s cliimbs and both of him and his climbing partners. As someone who doesn’t climb it was good to see these as it really gives you more of a sense of exactly how amazing the climbs are and the beautiful landscape. I also loved the picture of the narrowboat!

Overall I did enjoy this book although there were a few chapters that I found harder to get into than others. I’m not sure why, sometimes I really enjoyed some of the essays, but at other times there were texts I just wasn’t so engaged in, but overall this was a good book and I did enjoy reading it.


Do you like reading memoirs/autobiographies?  Would you ever want to go climbing?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂