American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Yosemite Climber

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  • Publication Year: 1981

Yosemite Climber compiled by George Meyers. Diadem Books (London)/ Robbins Mountain Letters (Modesto, California), 1979. 96 pages, photos. Price $14.95.

I am a camera. I’ve been in many haul bags and been handled by anxious chalky hands. I’ve snapped the Camp Four lifestyle in the Valley. I’ve glamorized and celebrated vertical granite, half-naked climbers pumping rock, plumes of multi-colored ropes dangling across great walls. Pictures like these are what make books like Yosemite Climber. Without cameras what would climbers have to take home and drool and fantasize over through the winter? Without cameras what non-climbers would believe the unbelievable Yosemite antics?

For a camera this is a great book. For a climber, I’m not so sure. Foremost it is a tone poem in Kodachrome: of wide screen, 9x11-inch plates of climbers in action; and even a half dozen, two-page, 18x11-inch spreads. (That’s equal to four times the size of this page.) Altogether this is an awesome display of the photoengraver’s art. Although some of the opening scenic shots of the Valley are ones many people will have seen before, the dozen best prints in Yosemite Climber tell more about being there than any prose.

But if you want more than a graphic photo buzz this book won’t do. Linear, Gutenberg types will complain that information on routes, personalities, history, the current valley scene is to be found in fragmentary captions, or in five short, though hardly representative narratives by local climbers. Mercifully these are drowned out by the glossy panoramas.

Still, hard-core visual types will love Yosemite Climber. I find it on a par with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Velveeta spread. It tastes good without being good. It’s junk food, expensive junk to be sure.

John Thackray

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