Alan wrote his first guidebook Peak Limestone in 1992. During the 90s he gradually developed Rockfax as a business taking over from the start made by Mick Ryan. This included the ground-breaking Pembroke guidebook of 1995, the very successful and popular Costa Blanca, Mallorca and El Chorro guidebook of 1996. Into the new millennium the business grew and as more people were taken on Alan switched to more of a publishing role. He now oversees all the publications and helps write the odd one. He enjoys all types of rock climbing, particularly trad sea cliffs and French and Spanish sport routes.
Chris first started writing guidebooks in the 1980s and his first book – Rock Climbs in the Costa Blanca (1989) – was a major contributing factor to the popularity of that area as a climbing destination. Further books written for Cicerone have helped publicise many other areas in Spain and Belgium.
In 2001 Chris joined Rockfax as the co-author of the revolutionary guidebook Peak Gritstone East (now updated to Eastern Grit). Following on from this Chris has gone on to author many more books and he now takes and active role in the publication of all other Rockfax publications.
Mark joined the Rockfax team in 1998 when he co-authored the Costa Daurada book with Emma Williams (now Emma Medara). This was their first ever attempt at guidebook writing and was completed in under 12 months from their initial phone call to the finished product; a period which involved three trips to Spain, learning to draw topos from scratch and a big set-back when many topos were nicked from their van.
Since then Mark has gone on to author many more guidebooks including the superb West Country Climbs published in 2010.
Stephen joined Rockfax in 2010 to oversee the sub-editing of all our books. He has gone on to develop the guidebook production to a new level and currently is the key developer behind our work to adapt all our guidebooks for mobile device App development.
Jack wrote his first book to North Wales Classics in 2010 now updated to North Wales Climbs in 2013. He has also contributed to several MiniGUIDES including one to the North Face of the Eiger. He continues to work on Rockfax books when not being the Editor of UKClimbing.com.
Paul joined Rockfax in May 2011 and is responsible for technical development of the Rockfax website and other aspects of our online development.
Sherri is the advertising manager for Rockfax, whilst travelling far and wide to different climbing areas with Chris.
Adrian was the main author of the first Rockfax performance coaching book Sport CLIMBING+ published in 2006 and he has gone on to co-author Trad CLIMBING+ with John Arran, and Winter CLIMBING+ with Ian Parnell and Neil Gresham. After this he turned his attention to the South of France with his first guidebook France : Haute Provence which has led on to a full France series of books.
Mike’s Rockfax career started with a bang when he was the sole author the award-winning Deep Water. This huge project was the result of many year’s of research by Mike and was a well-deserved winner of the 2007 Mountain Exposition Award at the Banff Mountain Book Festival. Mike then co-authored the 2009 Pembroke guidebook with Alan James.
Sophie approached us in spring 2011 with an idea for a beginners’ book for children linked to the NICAS scheme. Through her tremendous hard work The Beginners’ Guide for Climbers was published in February 2012.
- More of Sophie’s work on www.tinbiscuitstudio.co.uk
Andy first wrote for Rockfax way back in 1994 with the Lakes Rockfax. After a gap of many years he took advantage of the versatile MiniGUIDE system to produce the Skye MiniGUIDE in 2002 and the Lofoten MiniGUIDE in 2003. In 2006 he was the co-author of Lakes Bouldering.
Alan helped with the first edition of the popular Costa Blanca, Mallorca and El Chorro book and then went on to write and publish his own book to Merseyside Sandstone along with Pete Chadwick. After this he came back to Rockfax for his book to Yorkshire Gritstone Bouldering.
Allen first wrote a guidebook about bouldering in the Peak for OTE in 1995. The subsequent popularity of bouldering required a new book in 1998 which became the Peak Bouldering ROCKFAX which ran to 2 editions.
Ben ran the now defunct Dorset Climbing Domain for several years is one of the first people to start producing his own MiniGUIDES almost entirely independent of Rockfax. His first MiniGUIDE was the now superseeded Dorset Update, he then went on to help with the Cala Gonone MiniGUIDE and followed that up with the Cuttings Boulderfield MiniGUIDE in 2004 and a new Portland Bouldering : Cuttings Boulderfield MiniGuide in 2012.
We have also worked with Rab Anderson on the first editions of Costa Blanca, Mallorca and El Chorro; Jon Barton and Paul Evans on North Wales Bouldering; Paul Cornforth on the Lakes; Steve Mayers on the first edition of North Wales Limestone; Ben Walker on the first Yorkshire Limestone book; Dave Pegg on Rifle; Randy Leavitt and Dan McQuade on Vegas Limestone; Jerry Handren on Cathedral and Whitehorse; Ward Smith on Rumney; Mike Kerby on the Tenerife MiniGUIDE and Keith Sharples who has helped with with the Cala Gonone MiniGUIDE.
Mick, working with Ben Walker, produced the first Rockfax guidebook, Yorkshire Limestone in 1990. He then went on to produce North Wales Limestone and The Lakes before handing over the European publishing reins to Alan James when he moved to the USA in 1994. There he produced books to New England, Rifle and Las Vegas.
The Genesis of Rockfax
The 80′s was when sport climbing landed on the shores of the UK. Lots of climbers liked sport climbing, lots didn’t. It was the bolts they didn’t like….and the lycra……and the competitions…..and the arrogant youths……and the departure from the ‘old’ ways. It was the shock of the new (or Baboo-Baboo).
At the time guidebooks were produced really only by the clubs and the BMC but they were very slow to bring out their books. Many people in the clubs and some in the BMC frowned on sport climbing. Weren’t interested in them, but lots of people were.
Sport routes sprouted up all over the UK like mushrooms after an autumn rain, but no-one was documenting them. I worked at On The Edge at the time and put together a Crag Directory of sport climbs and cliffs all around the UK. This was the template for the early Rockfax guidebooks: Yorkshire Limestone, North Wales Limestone, The Lakes, Dorset….
Also at the time many climbers were climbing in France and Spain and found that the guidebooks there were quite useful. They had the route names and descriptions on the same page as the topo or photodiagram. Some of the guidebooks had fun little symbols – in particular Dennis Garnier’s Cimai guidebook from 1988.
So there was a need for information about sport routes and there was a need for guidebooks that presented the information in a simple and easily understood format. Hence this new guidebook company called Vertical Brain Publications that produced Rockfax guidebooks.
Vertical Brain I misheard from a Julian Cope lyric…it actually said, ‘my vertigo brain leads me on the edge’……Rockfax came from the fertile brain of a friend of mine, Steve Rhodes…Facts about Rocks…Rockfax.
The first Rockfax was Yorkshire Limestone, a simple book of photodiagrams and topos with the route information on the same page. It documented a mix of sport and traditional climbs. This was Fax 01……like the catalogue system FAC 01 from Factory records in Manchester. Fax 02 was North Wales Limestone…written by Steve Mayers and Gill Lovick…this was in a similar format of photodiagrams and route info and very clear maps. Macs were used from the outset, particular the programs Aldus Freehand and Adobe Photoshop.
Anyway, soon after I met Alan James, I can still remember the morning very clearly in Sheffield. I’d seen his cartoons which I found hysterical. At the time I was looking for someone to do Peak Limestone. A mutual friend and very talented climber, Steve Ansen put me in touch with Alan.
Myself and Alan had very similar ideas and enjoyed each others company, still do.
Anyway I moved to the USA (did 5 Rockfax guides there) and Alan as you know is Mr. Rockfax UK, in fact he is Mr. Rockfax and through hard work, perseverence, suffering, and a lot of talent has developed the Rockfaxes as we see them today – in fact much of it you don’t see….modern guidebooks are more than just a book.
Mick Ryan, 2006