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Nick Bullock was born on Christmas Day in 1965. After leaving school aged sixteen he worked variously as a gamekeeper, a self-employed labourer and at Alton Towers (less exciting than it sounds) before joining Her Majesty's Prison Service in 1987 where he was posted to the high-security Gartree Prison as a wing officer, then a punishment block officer. In 1992 he was introduced to climbing at Plas-y-Brenin while training as a physical education instructor: Nick left the prison service in 2003 and has been a full-time climber and part-time writer ever since. Nick is one of the UK's leading climbers, making bold repeats of many of the country's most renowned traditional summer rock climbs. In Scottish winter he has climbed hundreds of routes and many new ones including Nevermore on Lochnagar - with a grade of X/10 it is one of the hardest routes ever climbed ground up. In the European Alps he has climbed approximately forty routes, both established classics and new lines, and he is veteran of over twenty-three expeditions to the greater ranges. It is possibly in the big hills where Nick has truly demonstrated his imagination and abilities, making significant ascents and failing on some audacious attempts around the world with partners such as Jules Cartwright, Al Powell, Kenton Cool, Andy Houseman, Matt Helliker and Paul Ramsden. In September 2017, alongside Ramsden, he climbed the first ascent of the North Buttress on Nyainqentangla South East in Tibet, for which they were awarded a prestigious Piolet d'Or. An accomplished writer, his work has been published frequently in Alpinist, Climb, Rock & Ice, Climber, Vertical, UKClimbing.com, Desnivel, Climbing, the Alpine Journal, the American Alpine Journal, and in 2017 he won the award for Best Mountaineering Article of the Year at the Banff Mountain Book Competition. When not on expedition or extended climbing trips, Nick lives in Llanberis, North Wales. Tides is his second book, following the critically acclaimed Echoes.
As I first approached Nick’s second account of his life as a professional mountain climber, I thought the title a little unusual. I wondered if, perhaps, it is a term peculiar to the world he inhabits. Not so, I discovered as I read. It is far more generic, and a more apt title for his story I could not imagine. Tides describes Nick’s highs and lows, his peaks and troughs, the times when things go well and ambitions are fulfilled, and those occasions when failure, fear, self-doubt or grief are present. I read Tides at a time when reports are coming in of climbers killed in India, of more deaths on Everest and, like many, I wonder what it is that drives people like these to push themselves to the very limits of human physical and mental endurance as they tackle such a perilous pursuit. Tides answers this question. You will read not only about the achievement and the challenges but also the nature that surrounds the climber – something we, from our comfortable armchairs will likely never see. You will be transported to Nick’s world, to experience raw and inhospitable landscapes, to witness bravery and, in doing so, to enjoy it with him. Read it. And thank people like Nick Bullock for bringing this world into ours.
Winner, Mountain Literature (Non-Fiction) Award, Banff Mountain Book Festival 2018 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.