At my rock climbing peak (when we would drive up the M1 to the Peak district 2 weekends in 3), I’d watch all the climbing videos I came across, and also read plenty of books about climbing and climbers. One of my favourite videos is still The Real Thing, which follows Jerry Moffatt and Ben Moon to Fontainebleau, with a cast of various friends. In addition to being clearly excellent climbers, they were obviously having a lot of fun. As soon as Revelations, Jerry Moffat’s ghost-written autobiography, was published I bought a copy online. It arrived during the week, and I took a break from my current book to read it this weekend.
At the end of the first chapter, which covers Jerry’s life up to leaving school, I was feeling disappointed. It read as not much more than a list of “then I did this, then I did that”, and there were a number of typos. Was this a rushed book, and poorly proof-read? Jerry’s dyslexic, so I’d feel bad making comments about typos if it weren’t that the book was ghost-written.
I stuck with it, and quickly got hooked. I romped through the book fairly quickly, wanting to read what would happen next. The thing that makes the book worth reading is Jerry Moffat’s life, and his approach to, and attitude towards, climbing. It’s an insight into what it takes to become the best in any sport. That and the outrageous and stories which pepper the book. Many climbing books start with rock climbing, but transition to mountaineering and other forms of exploration. Revelations is quite rare in the climbing canon, in that the whole book is about rock climbing.
I was really into rock climbing for a number of years, but that was nothing compared to Jerry’s focus. Monomania is probably the right word. But he’s clearly had the killer combination of monomania and talent. I knew various bits of the Jerry Moffatt story, but some of what I ‘knew’ turned out to be wrong, and the full story is compelling reading.
Revelations isn’t going to make the top 10 of literary climbing books, and unlike some climbing books it’s probably not going to appeal to non-climbers. But to rock climbers it’s definitely worth the read, and shows you what it takes to be the best climber in the world.