American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Field Book: The Teton Range and Gros Ventre Range

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  • Publication Year: 1964

Field Book: The Teton Range and Gros Ventre Range by Orrin H. Bonney and Lorraine Bonney. Denver: Sage Books, 1963. 185 pages; ills. maps. Price $3.50.

The effort, care and scholarship that went into this Field Book have obviously been considerable. Nonetheless this book offers basically the same material found in Ortenburger’s Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range. This new book should offer material and presentation superior to the Ortenburger book. Unfortunately this superiority is not present. To be fair it must be said that more up-to-date routes are described in the Bonney book. However Ortenburger’s book is due for a revision in the very near future so that it too will be brought completely up to date. One novelty offered in the Bonney book is the exclusive use of the so-called American Rating System. Sometimes called the Decimal System this rating system is presently vying with the National Climbing Classification System (NCCS) for national acceptance. Both systems have three separate ratings for each climb; a rating of the overall difficulty of the climb shown in Roman numerals, a rating of the difficulty of individual pitches which are climbed without artificial aid of any kind, and finally a rating of artificial difficulty. The two systems differ only in the way in which the “free” pitches are rated. In this area the Decimal System permits 11 gradients while the NCCS is limited to 7. Whether all 11 gradients are necessary only time and the climbers of the country will tell. However the Bonney book adopts the Decimal System wholeheartedly, dealing with the NCCS in a footnote of less than a third of a page and set in type so small as to require good lighting, 20/20 vision and some concentration.

Rating systems aside, this reviewer found the complex abbreviations rather annoying and not nearly as readable as the Ortenburger text. More important, the quality of the photographs and illustrations is definitely inferior by any standard. On the plus side of the ledger are interesting and informative chapters on trip planning, hunting and fishing, and the history of the area.

While large sections of this country and Canada still lack adequate guide-book coverage, it is hoped that rather pointless duplication of this sort will be avoided in the future.

James P. McCarthy

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