American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows

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  • Publication Year: 1987

Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows. Don Reid and Chris Falkenstein. Chock- stone Press, Denver, 1986. 140 pages, black and white photographs, line drawings. $13.95 (paper).

This is an excellent revision of the authors’ 1983 guidebook, and it should be well received by those who seek refuge from the summer waves of heat and humanity in Yosemite Valley below.

Several improvements have been made in this edition that are immediately obvious. Carolly Hauksdottir’s inspired illustration of Tuolumne Meadows has been enlarged and moved to the title page. In its place on the cover is a striking wrap-around, color photograph of a climber dramatically silhouetted against a sea of water-streaked granite. The introductory material has been set in larger, easier-to-read 10-point typeface, and route names have been attractively boldfaced to make them readily distinguishable in the text. The biggest improvement has been the increased emphasis on photographs of the cliffs. The photos are more numerous than in the 1983 edition, and they have been spread conveniently through the book rather than bunched up in one place. This very practical idea makes the guidebook considerably easier to use.

Other noteworthy features are the inclusion of several newly discovered areas, the helpful comments on protection, and the retention of Tom Higgins’ well written historical perspective. Higgins’eloquent plea for a return to traditional climbing style is especially thought provoking and should be read by every climber who contemplates murdering the impossible with questionable tactics.

Other than a few misspellings (guidebook is one word, for example), there is very little to criticize about this fine book. Only three relatively minor points come to mind, and two of these are purely cosmetic. Many of the route names in the captions for the illustrations are not lined up vertically with each other, which creates a rather ragged appearance on close inspection. Also, despite the great success of boldfacing throughout the book, it is almost overwhelming in the index; it probably would have been better to save the boldfacing for the relatively small number of formations listed there instead. And finally, it would have been nice to know what route is depicted on the cover so that visiting climbers could duplicate the shot if they so desired.

All in all, Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows is an excellent investment. It is certainly one of the best guidebooks yet produced for any area in the United States and should whet the appetite of any climber who enjoys exhilarating runouts on endless sweeps of granite.

Ken Nichols

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