American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Boulder Climbs North

  • Book Reviews
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  • Publication Year: 1989

Boulder Climbs North. Richard Rossiter. Chockstone Press, Denver, 1988. 320 pages, black-and-white photographs, route diagrams, map. $19.95 (paper).

Has Boulder lost its lycra-clad mind? Already the main trailheads into the once pristine foothills are becoming bottlenecked by crowds of bolt-clipping rock- mongers, many of whom are eager and determined to “put up a first.” Tiny boulders, that even Pat Ament wouldn’t bother with, are now replete with titles, bolts-to-clip, bolts-to-belay-from, bolts-to-rap-from, bad-bolts, here-a-bolt, there-are-a-bolt, and are bolted into publication with the first-ascensionist’s names always spelled without error.

How in the world Richard Rossiter calmly and quietly processed all of this pandemonium into a beautiful, artistic plea for our sanity is a miracle. He has produced an exceptional guidebook that somehow gives grace to an area known for its malignant growth of arrogance and trite one-upmanship.

Boulder Climbs North is not new. It is the first part of a completely overhauled 5th edition of a series of smaller, less splendid guides and adden- dums known collectively as “The Pictorial Guides. ” Rossiter was the first to spearhead topographic route outlays in Boulder. No one else has dared compete, for the simple reason that Rossiter topos are widely accepted as the best in the business. Veteran topographist publisher George Meyers (of Yosemite Climbs fame) has wisely allowed Rossiter plenty of creative elbow room. There is true magic in a Rossiter pictorial. Unique blending of fine lines and space offer the viewer a genuine insight into the heart of each climb without jeopardizing its spirit. Merciless clarity, accuracy, and brevity are the general principles to which Rossiter tenaciously clings. Rossiter’s well-known love affair with Eastern mysticism is featured throughout the book by his use of Chinese characters which give a pervasive but not obtrusive Oriental flavor to the volume.

The little text that Rossiter elects to keep is likewise succinct and wastes no time getting to the bottom line of his philosophies. For years Rossiter refused to publish the names of first ascent parties. The self-elected elite of Boulder’s climbing society have complained about this omission, and here Rossiter has bowed to their demands.

Rossiter speaks authoritively about two things: Safety and Respect for the Environment. Although this section could be easily bypassed, I recommend his introductory comments. Rossiter is a wise athlete, who has seen and contributed much to the Boulder area. He possesses masterful wit and knows how to use it.

At a retail investment of $20.00, you get what you pay for. The book formally introduces an entire dimension of the Boulder area that has been largely neglected by Eldorado-addicted climbers. It contains not only vivid photographs that provide both information and inspiration, but also concise and up-to-date route and trail descriptions. Most pertinent, in my opinion, is the sense of artistry that is restored to the guidebook genre. Rossiter’s artwork simultaneously calms and heightens the senses and exudes the author’s appreciation of things transient and things delicate.

Steve Ilg

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