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François Matthes and the Marks of Time, Yosemite and the High Sierra

François Matthes and the Marks of Time. Yosemite and the High Sierra. Edited by Fritiof Fryxell. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1962. 189 pages; ills. Price $7.50.

François Matthes knew mountains with an understanding that few of us can ever attain. To him a mountain presented at a glance a clear record of ages of up-building, dislocation, alteration, and sculpturing by ice and water. Not content with understanding these things himself, or even with making contributions to the records of science, he had a burning desire to explain to laymen, particularly to young people, the exciting story that he saw written in the mountain landscrape. Thus he was ever ready to lead groups into the field in Yosemite and in Sequoia and to respond to the calls of editors, particularly of the Sierra Club Bulletin. Both in his informal talks and in his writings he had the rare gift of enlivening and entertaining without ever departing from a strict adherence to the disciplines of science. “The Geologic History of Mount Whitney” is an outstanding example. With this as a background, one may share with François his statement: “Indeed, the more fully I comprehend its story, by dint of repeated visits to and flights around and over Mount Whitney, the more venerable, the more precious seems that bit of flat land on its lofty summit. Upon it I have never set foot without a certain sense of reverence. ”

It is particularly appropriate that these essays should be introduced by a fellow geologist, Fritiof Fryxell, a member of the American Alpine Club, as was François Matthes, in a comprehending and well rounded biography. The book is beautifully produced, with excellent illustrations. Altogether it is a work of the highest order and should have a favored place in all mountain libraries.

Francis P. Farquhar