Historia del andinismo en Chile. Gastón San Román. Quickprint Y Cía, Santiago, 1989. 210 pages, 40 black-and-white illustrations, 7 sketch-maps. La directión del sector deporte. Gastón San Román. Quickprint y Cía, Santiago, 1989. 221 pages, 21 black-and-white illustrations. Cincuenta años en la montaña. Gastón San Román. Ediciones Tacora, Santiago, 1989. 372 pages, 195 black-and-white illustrations.
For more than half a century Gastón San Román has been closely relatedChapter Five covers moving over to the development of mountain sports in Chile. He began at the age of sixteen by founding a hiking club and continues active to this day. In 1977 he published a hiking guide for the Andean hinterland of Santiago. In late 1989 he launched almost simultaneously these three books dealing with different facets of the mountain sports in his country. Historia del andinismo straightforwardly describes the origins and growth of Chilean mountain climbing and hiking, seen chiefly through the development of their institutions, particulary the clubs founded in Santiago, the place where all such sports were born.
Generally speaking, San Román’s second book deals with the kind of organization that should be applied in all sports but particularly in the mountain sports. The subtitle of his book indicates that it is “a compendium of knowledge for the sport leader, specially in mountaineering.” Chilean sports, as portrayed in this second book, differ from those practiced in many other countries in that each sport is governed by an all-embracing federation, in turn controlled by the Dirección National de Deportes, dependent on the state for its support. By profession a bookkeeper, San Román is intimately familiar with the economic side of the entire Chilean sportive scene.
The third of these books is a pioneer of its kind in Latin America: it is the biography of a mountain club. The Club Andino Aguila Azul was founded in Santiago in 1937 by San Román himself and a handful of youths interested in mountain hiking (“excursionismo”) rather than in ascending mountains. Incidentally, the institution drew its name from “Blue Eagle,” a fictional American Redskin that bravely defended his native soil. The story of the club is meticulously reviewed by San Román, who after each period of some six or seven years pauses to analyze the failures and accomplishments that are the lot of a typical mountain club. This institution has since become the third largest in South American mountain sports. My only adverse remark to this book is that its numerous illustrations were reproduced rather too darkly, a defect fortunately not found in the other two books.
The usefulness of these works is evident. They can be said to be exemplary in their coverage. All three offer advice to generations to come, an advice bom out of the experience of a man who has been a mountaineer, an ecologist and a sport leader for half a century.