Roof of the Rockies: A History of Mountaineering in Colorado, by William M. Bueler. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Co., 1974. 200 pp. 13 maps, 44 photos. $9.95.
As Bueler states, no other American mountains have a longer or more interesting history of mountaineering than the Rockies of Colorado. It began with ascents by Indians and grizzly bears of several 14,000ers on unrecorded dates, and continued with Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, botanists, surveyors, pioneers, miners, tourists and, at the end of the line, climbers. This long history may span well over 300 years and it is by no means closed, as mountaineers in numbers larger than ever known before are tackling Colorado’s walls and ridges with the enthusiasm proper of the back-to-nature movement.
A great amount of information is concentrated in the 200 pages of this book. Part One covers early history through the 19th century surveys. Part Two studies the developments of mountaineering in the 20th century following a practical range-by-range approach. In spite of the detailed names, dates and heights, the narrative flows with ease, interspersed with first-hand comments by climbers. The pictures are very attractive and the historical plates, some over a century old, are remarkably sharp. The maps are adequate in number and size.
Almost no adverse remarks can be made of this book compiled with such care. One could only wish that the interesting legendary ascents of Colorado (some with a possible factual basis) might have been mentioned somewhere. This is, however, a very minor remark. This book is recommended to mountaineers, historians and Westerners. Its format and organization could be used for similar for similar books on the climbing history of the other Rocky Mountain states.