FIVA - An Adventure That Went Wrong. Gordon Stainforth

Reviews in the press, magazines,
and on line

Gripping and exciting
Most climbing books describe great ascents and major achievements by top mountaineers. This book is different, telling the story of two novice climbers attempting a route that proves way beyond them on the massive Troll Wall in Norway back in 1969. They lose the route, the author has an accident and even when they finally reach the top of the cliff they can’t find the descent route. It’s a real nightmare epic for the two climbers but for the reader it’s gripping and exciting
Chris Townsend,, Outdoor Books Review 2014,
1 Jan 2015

The best outdoor adventure book I have ever read, bar none

Gordon Stainforth’s “Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong,” is the best outdoor adventure book I have ever read, bar none. Until I read this book, I believed that the famous high altitude British mountaineer Doug Scott’s epic account of his survival story on The Ogre in the Pakistan Karakoram could never be matched. “Fiva” surpassed it.

The book is an account of Stainforth’s youth when, in 1969, he and his teenage twin brother John, both moderately accomplished mountaineers, attempted a day climb on the 4,000 foot long Troll Wall in Norway. After three days on the “Fiva” route, they barely survived a successful ascent.

Intending initially to read the first four pages to get a flavour of the book, I could not put it down, so engrossing and well-written was the story. Seldom is a mountaineering epic written where you feel like you are on the face, in the cold, confused by the route finding, one minute optimistic, another minute terrified that you may never return.

What makes this book truly special is how well it accounts, in first person narration, the youthful exuberance of relatively novice mountaineers. As they approach this massive wall, the author states, “Now, dwarfed by an outrageous landscape of mountain superlatives, my heart is pounding with excitement, a strange mixture of fear and anticipation.” In addition, the author perfectly describes the dangerous naivety of youth, and yet explains the discovery of courage and resourcefulness that these young men had no idea was within them.

Without giving too much away, what went wrong on the climb was a combination of youthful fanaticism, a lack of adequate food provisions for a big wall, and the inability to understand that a lack of great technical difficulty does not mean a lack of a serious climbing endeavor. These factors were further compounded by a very long route with extremely difficult route finding.

“Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong” was the winner of the Mountain Literature Award at the 2012 Banff Mountain Festival. This book earned that recognition, and I suggest you read it, and pick up a copy for your friends.

Peter G. Williams, OutThere Monthly, September 2014

This most British of adventures gone wrong
If you were to go on the reviews that adorn the cover pages of this book alone, you would expect this to be one of the finest mountaineering books ever written. Luminaries such as Stephen Venables, Chris Bonington, Joe Simpson and Andy Kirkpatrick are amongst the many big names singing the praises of Gordon Stainforth's account of, to quote the title, "an adventure that went wrong", and boy, oh boy, did it go wrong.......
The story is a compelling account of Stainforth and his brother John's attempt to climb the Fiva (pronounced Fever) route up Store Trolltind in Norway. With only three years of mountaineering experience, a sketched map and a four sentence route description, this is a classic example of what not to do.....couple it with the fact that rations consisted of a couple of sandwiches and two chocolate bars and you could argue the book should have been sub-titled "An accident waiting to happen". Of course, an accident is exactly what happens, when the climbers lose their planned route and are forced into ever more dangerous situations, an ice axe belay fails and Gordon is catapulted down the mountain severely injuring his knee in the process. The rest of the story explores Gordon and John's fight for survival as the weather turns against them, their rations run low and they are pushed to their ultimate limits in an attempt to survive and get off the mountain.
Stainforth has chosen to narrate in the first person which has a profound influence on the way the book reads. The internal monologues and recreated discussions represent a superb recall of events and certainly speed the story along at a rollicking pace, but, to me, sometimes they can become a bit relentless and I longed on occasion for some dispassionate, detached observation. The "conversations" with the mountain seemed particularly affected to me. However, this is not to denigrate a fine "Boy's Own" tale of adventure and survival which had me racing through the pages and rooting for the protagonists even as they seemed intent on digging ever deeper holes for themselves. In these days where every expedition is planned to within an inch of it's life, where kit is designed for the worst conditions Mother Nature can throw at us and where ration packs are manufactured to provide maximum calories, minimum weight and balanced nutrition, there is something distinctly appealing and "Famous Five-ish" about this most British of adventures gone wrong.
Howellsey,, Come Walk with Me, 3 Jun 2014

A fast-paced engrossing story
Usually stories of setting out on adventure unprepared are frustrating—it can be hard to feel sympathy for the adventurer who doesn’t understand what they’re getting into. Gordon Stainforth’s account Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong of his disastrous attempt on Store Trolltind doesn’t elicit this frustrated and judgmental response from me at all. Although Stainforth and his twin brother John drastically underestimated the time (and the food) their route would take and also overestimated their route finding capabilities on the mountain, I instead felt myself willing them up the wall as I read ...
Fiva is a page-turner. Like many adventure books, you know the ending but learning just how that ending happens becomes your singular focus. With each switch of the belay, I found myself even more deeply invested in just how Gordon and John were going to extricate themselves from their seemingly bleak situation. Despite looking more than forty years into the past, Gordon Stainforth has written a fast-paced engrossing story of a misadventure that takes the reader along on a harrowing series of events. John’s pictures from the assent along with his Afterward fill out the story. Fiva won the “Best Book—Mountain Literature” at the Banff Mountain Festival in 2012, an honor that seems quite deserved.
Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong was provided by Mountaineers Books to 3Up Adventures for review. All opinions are Beth's.
BETH, On The Page: Fiva,, 29 Oct 2013

Will have you on the edge of your seat as much as any Hollywood thriller

Fiva is a remarkable story, and all the more remarkable because it’s true.

There are a great many stories of mountain adventures and disasters available to those who have enjoyed climbing, and they usually appeal only to those who have some familiarity, at least, with the rigours, trials and dangers involved. Occasionally a story is compelling enough to warrant a wider audience, Touching the Void was one such, and Fiva is certainly another. Its accessibility is made possible by the simple but eloquent writing style, and the open way in which the author relates his feelings, which swing through the entire gamut of human emotions: anxiety, terror, hope, despair, shame, anger and gratitude. It is easy to identify with the story because the human voice is so immediate and so compelling.

This is a real Boy’s Own adventure, but one that has dark levels and bottomless depths, much like the mountain itself, who becomes an implacable and dreadful third character in this epic tale. It’s very easy to read, but not at all simplistic, and will really have you on the edge of your seat as much as any Hollywood thriller. Immensely enjoyable, terrifying and heart-warming in equal measure. Highly recommended.

'First Olympian', Immortal Life, 14 Sept 2013

A brilliant, toe-curling read
... Next is Fiva by Gordon Stainforth, which is only recently out but fast accumulating a big reputation for a brilliant read. Gordon was previously more famous for his excellent photography books. Eyes to the Hills was one of the first mountain books I borrowed from my library as a 15 year old novice climber. We don’t tend to get many mountaineering stories in the shop, but Gordon’s big win with this book at the Banff Mountain festival in November prompted us to check it out and we were impressed. I won’t say too much about it other than it describes a death-on-a-stick epic on Troll Wall in Norway. If you know anything about how serious the Troll Wall is, the Fiva route sounds particularly toe-curling just to read about. Much recommended by us if you like reading about proper adventures.
Dave Macleod,, Dave Macleod, 13 May 2013

A great climbing book, resounding with echoes ...
Despite all that has been argued about the "death of print," great climbing books are still being written now. In the past two years alone, Jim Sweeney's Marine Life Solidarity presented a cosmic vision of suffering in uncompromising prose; Gordon Stainforth's Fiva resounded with dark-amber echoes of old-fashioned boys' adventure novels; Bernadette McDonald's Freedom Climbers evoked the lost, resplendent world of the Polish Golden Age; and Tanis Rideout's Above all Things filled historical gaps with translucent and ecstatic daring.
Katie Ives, The Sharp End,, 23 April 2013

****1/2   A true epic, exceedingly well told
Fiva is the name of a route up Store Trolltind, a mountain in Norway. In 1969, nineteen-year-old Gordon Stainforth and his twin brother John, in a burst of exuberance and misplaced confidence, set out to climb it. The subtitle reveals how it went.
Most mountaineering literature is written by established mountaineers whose well-planned expeditions fall victim to circumstance. The great thing about Fiva is how Stainforth tells the story (in the first person present) from the point of view of an under-prepared teenager. I was able to identify completely with his growing feeling that they were in over their heads, and the frustration at not being able to find the proper route. The adventure itself is less dramatic than other climbs, but that just makes it easier to relate to their predicament.
A true epic, exceedingly well told.
Mike Lee, The Eager Reader, 15 February 2013

**** Expertly keeps the tension right to the nail-biting conclusion
Although an account of events of more than forty years ago, Fiva is written in the first person present tense, giving it an immediacy that meant once I started it, I couldn't put it down.
Stainforth perfectly captures the sense of youthful adventure of the two brothers, brimful of confidence, climbing Troll Wall. The writing is evocative - you get the sense of Stainforth choosing each word carefully whether describing the 'damp flanks of the dinosaur' they are climbing or discussing the limitations of phrases such as 'curtain of rock'.
As a climber, I especially enjoyed the period details - hemp ropes tied round their waists, big boots, Millar mitts and their 'space blanket'. Descriptions of this kit, along with some brilliant photos, bring the story to life and make it all the more remarkable when compared with the technical kit we have today.
Stainforth expertly keeps the tension in his tale right to the nail-biting conclusion.
Jaimella Shaikh,, 5 February 2013

**** Highly recommended
Great rollicking climbing adventure. For climbers of a certain vintage there is just so much nostalgia : wooden ice axes, RD Super Guide boots; abseiling with the rope cutting in to your shoulder.
Also highly recommended for non- climbers. A kind of "Touching the Void" which doesn't take itself too seriously.
John Keith,, 5 February 2013

***** Amazing read
Amazing read. Gripped me from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this book to climbers and non-climbers as it is a great true story. My wife wants to read it now........
Jamie Robinson,, 18 December 2012

In Gift Guide: Best Mountain Books
Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong by Gordon Stainforth, about $12.50 on Amazon UK (or more than $200 on the US site)
Forty years after the event, Stainforth writes about his 19-year-old self tackling the Fiva route on Norway’s giant Troll Wall. “This is the most gripping escape-from-disaster story since Touching The Void,” Venables said.
Best for…fans of thrillers or, in the words of Venables, “any intelligent reader who likes adventure in the mountains.”
recommended by Stephen Venables, The Active Times, 28 November 2012 website

A future cult classic

‘So you had an epic then?’ The question, delivered in a flat Lancastrian accent to the Stainforth twins, must have seemed a statement of the obvious taken to absurdity. The tattered pair were two days late back at camp, they’d hardly eaten in that time, had fallen hundreds of feet, been hopelessly lost, Gordon had smashed his left knee – it looked, he says, like a Jackson Pollack abstract done on the side of a beach ball, and worse still, it was turning gangrenous and starting to smell. Yes, this is the story of an epic. A more pertinent question would have been, ‘Why aren’t you dead?’

Fiva (pronounced ‘fever’) is the name of a 6,000-foot route on Store Trolltind in the Romsdal region of Norway. Stainforth’s subtitle, An Adventure That Went Wrong, speaks for itself; it also carries the flavour of laconic self-mockery that makes this book such a delight. The boys’ plight – they were just teenagers at the time – was dire, yet in retelling it Stainforth cannot resist drollery. His attitude to life (and death) epitomises that quip about the difference between Americans and the English: to Americans life is serious but not hopeless; to the English life is hopeless but not serious.

The Stainforths are as English as they come, two former public schoolboys from Knebworth in Hertfordshire; and, back in 1969, they were wonderfully naive: ‘We’ve climbed a couple of quite big mountains in the Alps with guides, and we’ve done dozens of rock climbs (last year) in North Wales and now we’re going to tackle the biggest rock wall in Europe – OK?’

It’s not a novel and both Stainforths are still alive and climbing so we know the book has a happy ending. However it unfolds as such a gripper that it would be churlish to go into detail over the plot.

Epics, of course, are standard fare of mountaineering narratives; what elevates Fiva is the manner of Gordon Stainforth’s telling of it. As with his superb photographic books –notably The Cuillin and The Peak – there is a sense of much careful forethought as to character of the final product. He didn’t just sit down and trot out an account, dramatic though it would have been. The book is written in the first person present tense, a bold move that has been skilfully carried off, and employs a smaller type size for the voice of his brother John when distant at the far end of the rope. Echoes from the cliffs and voices in Gordon’s head, spaced out with exhaustion, pain and hunger, are also cleverly conveyed.

For those of us of a similar age (the twins were born in 1949) there is also a good deal of gear nostalgia, Norwegian sweaters, Millarmitts, MOAC wedges and so on. Most glorious of all though is Stainforth’s evocation of the late 1960s through his zany use of song lines and titles. Looking over an abyss he turns a whiter shade of pale, without quote marks, which adds to the fun; Louis Armstrong, Del Shannon, the Beatles and more are drawn in. Gordon could be scripting a climbing version of The Singing Detective.

Fiva should, as publicists like to say, appeal to climber and non-climber alike. If there were any justice in the publishing world it would be a best seller, eclipsing ‘the Void’. But I can hear a doleful Gordon Stainforth adding, ‘there isn’t’. If so he’ll have to settle for the accolade of ‘a future cult classic’.

Stephen Goodwin, Alpine Journal 2012, November 2012

downloadable pdf version - original AJ review - e-book version

Totally engaging … Gordon pulls it off to spectacular effect

Fiva describes a true climbing epic played out on a colossal rock wall in Norway by two very young and inexperienced climbers over three days in the summer of 1969. The audacity of their plan is breathtaking but typical of youth, viz: we’ve done a bit of rock climbing in Wales, and been up a couple of peaks in the Alps with a guide, so what shall we have a go at as our first proper mountain route? I know, let’s do the 5,000ft Fiva Route on the Store Trolltind in Norway, we don’t have a detailed description, but it’s only VS so where’s the problem?

Gordon’s confidence has not diminished with age: he decided to set the book in the first person present tense, which throws up several challenges not immediately obvious. Most significantly it compels the author to speak and think as a 19-year-old on the spot, which colours all attitudes to his situation and decision making. You can’t allow 20-20 hindsight or subsequently attained wisdom to direct the narrative. This makes for an extremely technically difficult piece of writing, but if anyone can pull it off Gordon can (given his writing, photography and cinematic credentials) and he does so to spectacular effect.

The story of the climb and subsequent escape is at times frustrating, baffling and exhausting but it remains totally engaging. John and Gordon are identical twins: ‘alike, yet not alike’ and although Gordon can pre-empt many of John’s reactions to their perilous situation as only a twin could, it is still a very personal struggle for survival.

Bernard Newman, extract from adjudication of the Boardman Tasker Prize 2012,
16 November 2012

***** Deserves to become a classic in its genre as it reaches out to all of us
Gordon Stainforth is previously known, especially amongst the climbing fraternity, for his excellent photographic books on mountains, climbing and landscapes, so it was with interest that I picked up his latest offering Fiva.
Within the title itself: "An adventure that went wrong" the reader is provided with immediate enticement and I was eager to find out how the what, where and how elements of this adventure would unravel.
To begin with let me say that this is not your run of the mill mountaineering story. Written in the first person, almost like a diary, and from the perspective of the author 40 years ago, it gradually sucks the reader into the narrative and very soon you are almost part of the story yourself. By tackling a route not beyond the aspirations of many and from an age where most of us begin our climbing experiences, it is very easy to empathize, and in spirit be with the climbers every step of the way….
… Written from the mind of Gordon we see the constant questioning going on within him. Anyone who has ever climbed a long route has been there and this is the beauty of the tale in that he carries you along with every step. No Noooo! Don't do that you try to warn them but of course it is in vain.
Without giving the story away this is gripping stuff that lurches from one near disaster to another and eventually to a fitting climax.
This book really is a thoroughly good read and it deserves to become a classic in its genre. A number of my non climbing friends have read it and are equally enthralled as it reaches out to all of us.
Andy Birtwistle,, 8 November 2012
Full review

This little, unassuming book stands among the classic tales of climbing ‘epics.’
In his preface, Gordon Stainforth declares: “After several false starts, I decided to tell [Fiva] in the first-person present tense... to put myself back into the mountaineering boots of a 19-year-old with a very limited perspective on life.” It is a monumental challenge for a 60-year-old author, and one that raises doubts.
But the breathless teenage voice that leaps off the first page never waivers. Not once. Rather, it becomes an unrelenting force, sweeping the reader ever higher on Norway’s Store Trolltind as events spiral out of control for two young, bold, and grossly inexperienced twins.
An evocative period piece, Fiva is human, innocent, and unflinchingly believable. This little, unassuming book stands among the classic tales of climbing ‘epics.’
Bruce Kirkby, Judges' citation for Fiva on winning Best Book of Mountain & Wilderness Literature at the Banff Mountain Festival Book Competition, 1 November 2012

Fiva by Gordon Stainforth
Can you remember what you were doing when the late Neil Armstrong landed on
the Moon? I know where I was, having an epic deep underground in Italy, (ask me about it over a pint sometime!) but I know that some of you are too young. Gordon Stainforth remembers what he was doing in the summer of 1969 in this retrospective account of two young climbers having their own epic on a climb in Norway. By 'having an epic' I don’t mean experiencing Elvis leg on an outcrop where your mate can run round to the top and drop you a rope. Gordon and his twin brother, John, their progress initially sustained by the fearless self-assurance of youth and subsequently undermined by their inexperience, attempted an early repeat of a 2000m route called Fiva on Norway’s Store Trolltind, better known as the 'Troll Wall'. It is no exaggeration to say that on at least two occasions only good luck kept them alive; this is the compulsive, uplifting story of their prolonged struggle for survival.
It really is a page-turner of a book. The story is very well-written and very easy
to read, a combination of virtues which placed me in the predicament of not wanting to stop reading but not wanting to reach the end. It is well-constructed: to paraphrase Kenneth Wolstenholme, I thought it was all over, but it wasn't yet. It's also inspiring: like all good travel writing it made me want to go there and climb, although I’d prefer my adventures without such a massive capital 'A'. Still, how about Norway next year?
Published as paperback in 2012 by Golden Arrow Books at £9.95
Mike Blood, Northumbrian Mountaineering Club’s County Climber, 22 October 2012

The Wrath of The Troll
Fiva is a gripping account of an epic climb, and one from which many of us can learn important lessons, or use to reconnect with our own life-shaping adventures on the cliffs and mountains ...
Tom Richardson, Climb, November 2012
Full review

Let’s embrace danger!
I really enjoyed reading Gordon Stainforth’s Fiva, An Adventure That Went Wrong ... a real life account of an ascent of the Fiva route climb on Trollveggen in Norway, written by a participant from the perspective of his nineteen-year-old self. It successfully recreates the atmosphere of the late 1960s and both the enthusiastic capability and the inexperience and impulsiveness of youth.
Would it appeal to today’s fifteen and sixteen-year-olds?  It is clearly written and energetically paced. The account of the climb is both exciting and graphically described. It is accessible: there is enough explanation of rock climbing, and a brief glossary. The author’s perspective ensures it avoids becoming condescending....
I enjoyed the period feel of the book but might they find it hard to identify with two public school-educated nineteen-year-olds from 1969? I think we underestimate them. Teenage energy and enthusiasm were not so very different then....
Might the book encourage readers to emulate the authors (who both come out of their adventure suffering no real harm)? If it did I think it would be no bad thing. There is enough description of the dangers for an imaginative reader to appreciate them.
In other words, let’s embrace danger!
Bookwitch, online book blog, 30 July 2012
Full review and comments

Gordon Stainforth's
Fiva 'an adventure that went wrong' is a finger nail whittling account of two gauche young adventurers - Gordon and twin brother John - who took on a Norwegian giant Troll and lived to tell the tale.... As in all the finest tales of mountaineering epics 'the best laid schemes of mice and men' unravel as surely as a kitten with a ball of wool!...
Gordon writes in a contemporaneous first person style and gives the account the authentic feel of story written by a young man recounting events which had happened but a few weeks before. That is not to suggest that the writing is in any way unrefined. Far from it. The author crafts the tale in a manner befitting the subject matter. Tightly drawn, to the point but not without humour....
If [the reader is] looking for a book which is well written, perfectly paced and which ratchets up the tension by degrees in the manner of the very best works of Mountaineering non-fiction then Fiva delivers.... It's incredible that Gordon has kept the story out of print for over 40 years before finally getting it out of his head and onto the page. Certainly Fiva is one of the better books to emerge from what is generally a crowded and often overworked genre.... Recommended.
John Appleby, Footless Crow, 17 May 2012
Full review

Succeeds wonderfully in strapping the reader into the emotional roller coaster of the participants
... Some natural raconteurs are unable to translate their gift into the written word but Gordon achieves an immediacy and pace that keeps the reader turning the pages in anticipation of the next twist in the story.... It's a Boys' Own adventure gone wrong to which we can all relate ...
Gordon has captured the physical and mental transition that led in a few hours from youthful overconfidence, to growing apprehension, to a desperate fight for survival ... and if a little creative licence has been used in the psychological narrative it succeeds wonderfully in strapping the reader into the emotional roller coaster of the participants.
For everyone, climber or non climber, it's a ripping yarn well told. Buy a copy for a long train journey or your next holiday and tell your mates about it.
Nick Gregory, Climber, June 2012 (published 10 May)
Full review

Fiva is a work of art, a superbly crafted story that once read will never be forgotten.

Once or twice in a lifetime a mountaineering story crosses the divide between pure mountaineering and human interest, bridging the gap and becoming a "mainstream" hit. Touching the Void had that special appeal that could bring in a non-climbing audience, catapulting it's author and participants to fame and successful careers as writers and motivational speakers. The tale of human survival against all the odds gripped readers and viewers around the world, and justifiably so, but after reading Fiva I seriously doubt that TTV would have had half the success it has achieved if the epic story of the Stainforth twins had been written first. There's no getting away from the fact that Fiva is essentially a mountaineering book, describing a single attempt on a single climb, but like TTV it reaches far beyond the limitations of the sport and into the realm of epic survival stories.

Fiva is the story of a pair of twins setting out to climb a route of the same name in Norway. Armed only with a rough description and the confidence of youth the climb turned into a true epic with not only the summit uncertain but survival itself hanging in the balance. Loose rock, lack of experience and a lamentable lack of equipment that included just a single ice axe between the pair conspired to test the physical and mental strength of the the Stainforth twins. Despite over 40 years passing between the events of Fiva and the telling of it, it's a book that's as relevant today as it was then and benfits from the passing of the years. Though the author attempts to write Fiva in the style and with the mentality of the teenager he was at the time there's a maturity in the writing that I doubt would have been present if the book had been written at the time.

Fiva starts unusually with the author's return to the mountain 40 years on, setting the scene before turning the clock back to 1969 and plunging headlong into unremitting adventure. Success, failure, life and death hangs in the balance throughout as the twins discover they've bitten off something far bigger and far harder than they could have imagined with the daunting face of the mountain taking on its own persona as they pit themselves against it.

Writing from the perspective of a teenager, forty years on, the author does an amazing job in revisiting what must have been a life changing experience. The confidence and invulnerability of youth is all there as if the tale was only yesterday, but against it stands the immovable object of Store Trolltind, unforgiving and unremmiting. To take on the challenge with just 2 bars of chocolate a few sandwiches and a scrap of paper as a route description typifies the exuberance of youth and leads to the twins' inevitably finding themselves high on the mountain fighting for survival.

In the re-telling of the epic that follows the author puts the reader on the wall with the two brothers, relating the climb step by step. There's nothing new in the approach but in Fiva it's taken to extreme and each single sentence is idividually honed and crafted in such a way that the book, like the climb, becomes all consuming. The reader discovers the route, the mountain and the reality of the situation gradually to the point that although you know the brothers must have survived to write the book 40 years on you really do find yourself fearing for them. Minute by minute the climbers' situation is revealed and with it their thoughts, feelings and responses - all from that unique teenage persepctive. Fiva breaks the modern trend of psyco-analysing everything from "why I climb" to family relationships in being a pure adventure story in the best traditions of "Boys Own" but in it's own unique way it answers those questions like no other book.

Fiva may be a book about a mountaineering epic, but in reality it's far more. It's a doorway into the mind of not just the author and his brother, but into the glow of youth. The quality of the writing superb, the pace slowly builds as the story unfolds making it almost impossible to put down. Gordon Stainforth will be at next week's Keswick Mountain Festival - I, for one, will search him out just to say thank you. Fiva is a work of art, a superbly crafted story that once read will never be forgotten.

Dave Mycroft,, 9 May 2012

The horror, the emptiness, the hope, the despair, the belief, the love and the salvation of big face climbing
Gordon does a great job of painting the Fiva and the Trollveggen in all their dark and dank glory, the face the third main character in the book ... the first person and minute by minute account - means that the reader is as blind as the leader to what is unfolding, and you get a very real sense of what it is to climb such a face; the mountain unfolding bit by bit; that unique excitement and terror of new ground ... And at times I was unsure if they would actually make it to the top, or if they would be forced to retreat, or maybe never escape, and as an epic climb this one really delivers the goods, and as near-death goes, they got as near as you can and write a book about it ...
Ultimately he conveys the horror, the emptiness, the hope, the despair, the belief, the love and the salvation of big face climbing ...
Andy Kirkpatrick,, 25 April 2012

A high octane read
Fiva, by Gordon Stainforth falls squarely into the ‘sticky book’ category - a book so adhesive that no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t put it down until you’ve finished it…. The pace is flat out from the very first page. This is not a book you’ll slowly meander through over a period of months, it’s a high octane read that you’ll get through in less than a week.
If big, bold, bum twitching adventures are your cup of tea, you will certainly not be disappointed.
Gareth Hanson, Rock Climbing UK, March 30, 2012
Full review

Climber's brush with death is a thrilling read
Every step of the terrifying, life-changing journey, from leaving their tent onwards, has been chronicled in thrilling and frank fashion in Gordon's latest book. Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong, which hit the shelves yesterday, has already garnered significant praise from reviewers, whether they know about climbing or not; testament to Gordon's ability to write in an engaging and accessible way.
Jonny Birkin, The Derby Telegraph, March 30, 2012
Full review

What a story!
What a story! … As it becomes clear they have bitten off more than they can chew - which is pretty serious hanging 3000 feet above certain death - the fear is palpable…. Things get bad, and then they get worse. By a third of the way through the book, I was absorbed, finishing it in one sitting and worn out by the end.
What this book conveys most, however, is how youthful enthusiasm, combined with poor planning and preparation, can have disastrous results…. What it is is a rollicking adventure story.
Daniel Neilson, The Great Outdoors, May 2012 (published March 29, 2012)
Full review