During his life which lasted from 1913 to 2003, Alastair Borthwick impacted the world of climbing in Scotland and throughout Northern Europe. A writer and broadcaster, he wrote extensively about many different topics but none so much as climbing and mountaineering around Clydebank and Glasgow. While he was not the only person who had covered the topic at that point in history, he was the only one to write about it in the angle that he did.
While climbing and mountaineering are now largely seen as a sport for everyone who is interested, this wasn’t always the case in the past. In fact, up until then, it was considered a sport for the elite of society who would travel to exotic lands in order to climb prestigious hills and mountains. This all changed during the 30’s when the economy in Northern Europe experienced a deep depression. Alastair Borthwick wrote about how views on climbing changed in society as the unemployed and laborers of society started to enjoy the sport as an inexpensive option for entertainment.
At the time, the elite that had helped a monopoly on the activity was none too thrilled with the developments that Alastair Borthwick had captured in articles and Always a Little Further. Even today, his book still sells well and many people consider it one of the quintessential works on the topic of climbing. Other authors had published works on climbing that featured the well-to-do and the technical aspects of the sport itself. Instead of taking this approach, Alastair Borthwick captured the stories of the commoners that made their way across Europe as they had plenty of time on their hands due to high levels of unemployment.
The common people participating in this sport was a completely alien concept to the rich that had held it so dead. People compared it to watching people from the East End, a low-income area, suddenly deciding that they wanted to start playing polo. While some may have been uncomfortable, this didn’t stop Alastair Borthwick from capturing the stories of the many people who had started to enjoy the sport.