New Book on Yosemite Climbing History


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 21 - 40 of total 71 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Sep 15, 2010 - 02:01am PT
Maybe we should have a book club discussion of this at the FaceLift. Does anyone know if the book is available anywhere in the Valley?

The historiography of climbing is an interesting subject. I certainly agree that someone who's a non-climber may be quite able to write something original and illuminating about climbing. Not that it's happened much, but an academic (sociologist?) might have some interesting and perhaps uncomfortable things to say about us.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 15, 2010 - 02:35am PT
I remember Tobias and the Anthropology of Ascent which I also didn't much care for (probably just over my head).

Taylor's book is way more entertaining because he includes so many first hand details of events ranging from climbs to ethical debates, to sexual attitudes, parties and ranger run ins. He includes a lot of opinionated commentary from climbers themselves though he doesn't list the source if they were spoken in an interview and requested confidentiality.

Surely part of the interest of the book is trying to figure out who he interviewed and what they said about others. In that regard, it is an interesting mixture of academic analysis and Camp 4 gossip.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Sep 15, 2010 - 11:19am PT
I'm laughing at this thread as it is so typical of ST. A bunch of opinions expressed about the book and author, some pretty strong opinions, before anyone but Jan has read the book!

Sep 15, 2010 - 11:19am PT
I didn't have much if anything to contribute as Taylor was looking for original sources. I referred him to Guido. Taylor mentioned he had already received help from a number of others, some of whom he named, and they were the real deal. I'll leave their names out so as to make the guessing game of who said what more interesting.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 15, 2010 - 11:24am PT
I still think of Michael Tobias, especially whenever I see something about
Mt Sinai. As I recall he wrote a nice piece on climbing that in Mountain Gazette.
I thought he was an excellent writer. Whatever became of him?
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Sep 15, 2010 - 11:57am PT
Joseph Taylor was on the east side a few years ago doing interviews and we had him over for dinner. Still at Iowa State then. Seemed like a good guy and I am looking forward to the book.

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Sep 15, 2010 - 12:25pm PT
Reilly... I met Michael once in the Mt. Room Bar. I was young and not supposed to be in there. I just remember listening to him talk and thinking I needed to go back to school ASAP! His vocabulary and ability to string words together into circumlocutory sentences astounded me.

Here is a link about him and his current activities:

Sep 15, 2010 - 08:02pm PT
Just recently met and interviewed Joseph Taylor for a film project I'm working on. He knows a ton of stuff and a nice guy to boot (fed us after the interview). Here's a link to an article "Climber, Granite, Sky" he wrote if you want to get an idea of his writing style;col1

Mckinleyville, Ca
Sep 16, 2010 - 12:51am PT
Thanks Alex Reinhard, for the link to Taylor's sample of writing style and perspective. He sounds like a very intelligent guy who likes to take the art of climbing, and weave historical tapestry to make his art. Nothing wrong with that.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 18, 2010 - 01:04am PT
The book is much more interesting than the article!

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Sep 18, 2010 - 02:39am PT
My copy came in the post today. A quick (okay 45 minutes) glance through convinces me this guy did some MEGA research and it should be a great read.

Gotta love this Chouinard quote in the book:

"I have begun my campaign to wipe out CMI and Long and Leeper too. Phuck them all. Leeper gets phucked up for even thinking he can make a better piton than I can."

Don't worry, the book does not edit its expletives.

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Sep 18, 2010 - 11:53am PT
Thanks for the post, Jan. And for the turn on to the book.
I, for one, can't get enough Yosemite history!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 26, 2010 - 08:32pm PT
Okay, I am now halfway through the book. Thanks tons, Jan for bringing our attention to it. It is rather academic and scholarly but still engaging reading. The author has done his own massive review of the extant material and parts ways frequently with conventional views of climbing's development here in the U.S. It is quite interesting although nearly approaches redundancy at times with his thoroughness and review. It also achieves a pleasing intimacy at times with the principal characters in our past.

I should have it finished by next weekend. The second half is going to be addressing late forties and forward; this more recent period will be more familiar to me and maybe I can offer more of a critique. I am grateful to him for this impressive volume and I think it takes our whole American climbing history to new levels of scholarship.

Sep 26, 2010 - 10:50pm PT
Hopefully enough of you hit on this book that the price of it used drops to my price point for a used, hardcover book. $ 1.75.
mark miller

Social climber
Sep 26, 2010 - 11:01pm PT
Is this turning into another..."Bring me the Head of J Taylor ",threads? Sometimes we forget it's AmeriKa and folks should be able to say anything they want. Oh well, I'll read it.
The R. Messner Book was tough to get through the first stuff, all the soloing and killing of partners (and brother). But the end seemed to reveal a different man and I'm glad I stuck it out.

Trad climber
I've lost track...
Sep 29, 2010 - 12:45am PT
I've had problems reading various accounts of Yosemite climbing history, because I wind up sticking them full of tabs where my personal experience disagrees with the account reported. I managed to make it through this book without adding post-it tabs on the pages. I very much appreciate the honest reporting.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 14, 2010 - 01:05pm PT
There is a lot of buzz around this book and several academics that I know are engaged by it. Jan recently sent me a copy as a present and I can't wait to read it once my writing workload eases up.

The sections that I have sampled have been right on the mark and Taylor has really done his research well.

Jan-Thanks for starting this thread and turning me on to such a great book!

I recently talked with Mark Powell and he got a real kick out of being described as climbing's first ambassador of the beat generation! LOL

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Oct 14, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
I'm looking forward to reading it, but I must admit I'm jealous of Taylor. My dream job has always been to be a professor of climbing history at Berkeley.


Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Oct 14, 2010 - 03:32pm PT
I'm glad to see this getting the thumbs up... I pretty much pulled the trigger when this thread popped up and the book is now sitting in the queue awaiting reading.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 14, 2010 - 04:04pm PT
Thanks for the heads up Jan, I'll look for it.

I met Tobias 35 years ago. Poor guy accidentally ingested a thesaurus and has been coughing up $3 words ever since. I don't think there is a cure.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 71 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews