American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas

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  • Publication Year: 1960

Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas, by Orrin H. Bonney and Lorraine Bonney. Denver, Colorado: Sage Books, 1960. 389 pages; 99 ills.; 24 maps; index. Price $6.50.

We owe a great debt to the Bonneys for preparing this long-needed guidebook which compresses much information into a small space. It is written primarily for the mountain wanderer and climber, yet other forms of sport are not neglected. A chapter on history will help to make one’s trip more interesting for those unacquainted with development of the state. The Bonneys have, even here, trodden some new paths, and climbers will read with interest their theories on the ascents of captains Bonneville and Frémont. New material on the famous Grand Teton controversy is here presented for the first time, including the original sketches of William H. Jackson to illustrate Langford’s account of the 1872 ascent. An ascent of the Grand Teton on September 10, 1893 by Captain Charles H. Kieffer and two soldiers from the Yellowstone garrison is disclosed for the first time and fully documented as is also the evidence that Owen knew of this ascent before he made what he claimed to be the first ascent in 1898.

The introductory material, in general, will be found of greatest help by those making their first trip to the Wyoming mountains, but is of value to anyone planning a trip.

The guidebook material proper includes both trails and mountain information. Under each peak is given the origin of its name and the data on first ascents and new routes as well as descriptions of the routes themselves. The numbering system, used apparently to facilitate reference to the sketch maps, adds an element of confusion to the eye but has merit in pinpointing the exact peak referred to. The propriety of assigning names of living persons to geographical features may well be questioned in view of the Geographic Board’s general prohibition of the practice. While flattering to the people involved, it might well result in a confusion of names should such appelations be rejected by the authorities and other names substituted.

Although the climbing detail on the Wind River Range and most of the other ranges is quite complete, a noticeable gap lies in the descriptions of the Teton climbs. Thus, on the Grand Teton, only six routes are described and the reader is referred to the Ortenburger guide for the rest. Other peaks are similarly treated but often without the mention of another source. This reviewer feels that mention of these routes, even though descriptions might be omitted, would have made the book more valuable for reference and less subject to criticism.

The format is good from the standpoint of a reference work, but the size, 6½ x 9½ inches, is rather large for a book for use in the field, and the weight, 1 lb. 13 0z., makes it a sizeable item on a backpacking trip. The weight can be largely ascribed to the use of calendered paper, but despite this attempt to be able to intersperse pictures at random, the quality of the photographic reproductions leaves much to be desired. The pictures add a great deal to the desirability of the book and to the comprehension of the route descriptions, but reproduction on coated paper would have added greatly to their appearance and usefulness, especially the aerial views where extreme clarity of detail is important.

The chapters on Skiing and Winter Sports, Rockhounding, and River Running are brief but do serve to call attention to these sports and availability of terrain for them, so that, perhaps, sometime in the future another compiler may arise, when more is known, and give us guidebooks to them too.

While some may deplore the fact this guide does not follow the size and format pioneered by the Club in its guides to the mountains of Canada and the Cascades, the book fills a long-felt want and is a must for all those interested in the mountains of Wyoming. It is an invaluable reference work which every climber will study with care and want to have in his library.

Kenneth A. Henderson

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