A friend noticed that I seem to be reading several books at once. In fact, I usually am. Normally, I have something I am reading related to work (not climbing), a climbing narrative or history, and one or more other mountaineering books or climbing guides that I may pick up to research whatever strikes me at the moment.
So I thought I might share my current reading list. Like every book you choose to read, there is a reason for making a particular book part of my reading time. That time, however, is rather limited these days — which is why it takes me forever to get through them or, for that matter, post here more frequently than I have these last two or so months.
The Will to Climb by Ed Viesturs with David Roberts (2011) – Edelweiss gave me this as a Christmas present because she knew I thoroughly enjoyed following Viesturs’ Endeavor 8,000 project when he became the first American to climb all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks in the Himalayas without supplemental oxygen, and he’s written four books since it began. The last three were co-written with my favorite mountaineering writer, David Roberts. Viesturs as a person is very driven person with firm principles about life that makes him well respected, particularly by every-man mountain climbers. He also makes his work in the mountains look easy — at least if you’re him. Roberts on the other hand, is a complicated, introspective, historically-knowledgeable writer that is sometimes dark. They balance each other well and makes for great books told from Viesturs’ perspective with Roberts authorian talents. However, reading this book in sips (versus gulps) may be making it difficult to pull out the thesis’ key points.
Training for Climbing by Eric J. Hörst (2008) – As you may recall, I am working out again to stay in shape for being Wunderkind’s father and so a nagging, strained back muscle will be balanced with the rest of my body. So to help achieve my modest goals, I have been reading a lot about training, but nothing has been as informative as Hörst’s book, which I borrowed from the American Alpine Club Library. The book is technical yet approachable. In fact, the keys to building strength, power, endurance and stamina and are all in there and Hörst is clear why those principles exist and how to apply them. I may have to buy this book for my library.
Climbing in the Adirondacks by Don Mellor (1988) – I hadn’t looked at this book in about ten years; when I took out Training for Climbing I took this out on a whim. It’s given me a chance to explore some memories, learn some history about how the Chapel Pond and Poke-O-Moonshine climbing areas came to be. Plus, it gave me the chance to look into some of those dream climbs in the ‘Dacks I always wanted to say I’ve done but never have.
There are also a couple of issues of Climbing underneath my stack of books. One issue is the newest: The 2012 Gear Guide. I really don’t think I need anything, but it’s fun to look. The previous issue, which focused on big wall climbing skills, is there too and it was very good. In fact, it’s inspired my new interest in its technical aspects. The skills and endurance needed for big wall climbing is, as you may know, very similar to alpine climbing (my ideal type of mountaineering.) There is more to learn about alpinism — and climbing in general, I’m certain — by looking through the big-wall prism.
This is why I also have out the 2005 American Alpine Journal. Two of its features are about first ascents from 2004 on the Azeem Ridge of Great Trango in the Karakorum, and climbing through a storm on Moose’s Tooth’s east face in the Alaska Range. Of course paging through random AAJ’s for the some interesting content is always fun too. Anyway, we’ll see what trickles from my bedstand into written words here.
Also, as an aside, I recently heard that Joe Szot died earlier this month. You probably never heard of him, unless you’ve climbed in the Adirondacks or perhaps the Shawangunks. I didn’t know him or know much about him. But I knew of The Bivy, where ice climbers could stay for US$5. He also lead some impressive routes in the area, including the aforementioned Poke-O-Moonshine. I offer my condolences to his friends and family.