Stowe Derby and Bedstand Reading Notes

The current, shorter reading stack (Szalay 2013)

Someone asked about what happened with me skiing in the Stowe Derby this past February. I said I was training for it multiple times starting over a year ago and then my updates faded into silence.

The Stowe Derby is the oldest cross country ski race in North America held in Stowe, Vermont every February. It starts at the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest point, and goes down the snow- and ice-covered toll road that visitors drive up in the warmer months. The second half of the race is virtual-straight away route through the valley into Stowe itself. Here’s the wacky twist that makes it a ton of fun: You pick whether you want to use cross country skis or downhill skis and you have to wear them throughout the race.

I didn’t enter this year. You see, Natalie and I had an agreement: If we were expecting our second child this spring, we’d put the race off for a season or two.

The arrival is coming any week now and we’re really excited.

In the meantime, I’m trying to stay ahead of a little bit of reading before the blissful mayhem of having a toddler and a newborn take-up more of my energy and steal my sleep. So I thought I would fill you in on what’s on my reading list:

Alpinist Issue 42–The rule in my house goes like this: When the quarterly literary climbing magazine arrives, give it to me and I’ll set aside the time to read it ASAP. So it often travels in my padfolio to work, in my Patagonia shoulder bag on weekends and kept on my bedstand at night. Sometimes I only read half a page, but that’s progress and enriching.

In 42, Alpinist‘s longest-serving teammember and its relatively new Editor-in-Chief, Katie Ives, dazzled me a new ways in her editor’s column, The Sharp End. It’s about the value of our books in relation to climbing. I’m mostly an armchair mountaineer nowadays, so I found it true and touching. I have reread this column several times since receiving it.

Halfway to Heaven: My White Knuckled — and Knuckle-Headed  –Quest for the Rocky Mountain High I picked up this one by Mark Obmascik at a charity used book sale more than three years ago. This title was far from my short-list of books I was hoping to find, but it has been helping bring some much needed escapist reading these last few weeks as I finished a very intense two months (published a professional article, held two conferences and ran a board meeting, not to mention the move into the new townhome) and this has been an unexpected comic relief. It’s like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods for Colorado’s 14ers and I highly recommend picking it up for the history and amusement.

Forget Me NotThis book was given to me by a new friend that climbs much more often than I do and has become a reader of TSM. Jennifer Lowe-Anker wrote this memoir about her life with her late husband, Alex Lowe, coping with his loss, and falling in love with Conrad Anker. It’s a very different type of climbing story, and one in a sub-genre that want to explore: Stories of love and loss in the climbing community. I haven’t officially started reading it just yet, but I’ll fill you in on more later. If you’ve read it, please save your thoughts until I’m done; I want to hear them, but later…

A List of Classic Climbing Books–In my notebook (the black-bound volume in the stack) has a running list of two sets of classic climbing books: 1) the one’s that are popularly read; and 2) the influential titles, which is essentially a narrower list plus several that are unavailable except through collectors. I’m using this to build and structure my personal library to one that suits me better. I have a wonderful hodge-podge of titles on climbing that I enjoy, but I am missing several titles that I probably ought to own because of my priority interests in climbing. You might hear more about this later.

Thanks for dropping by once again. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following the Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook or Twitter. Climbing matters, even though we work nine to five.


8 thoughts on “Stowe Derby and Bedstand Reading Notes

  1. Nice article. We need to get together as well. Maybe sometime in the summer after the baby comes.

  2. On the theme of “Forget Me Not”; if you haven’t already done so, I suggest you add Maria Coffey’s “Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow” to your must-read-stack.
    You still “missing several titles”? Lemme know, and I’ll see what I can come up with ;-)

  3. Thanks again, Bob.

    I’m not positive, but it seems Coffey’s book was the first in this sub-genre of dealing with loss of a loved one through climbing. It’s definitely on my list to read later.

  4. I am glad you mentioned “Forget me Not” since I had it on my to-read
    list for a while,but was afraid it would join the ” I-wish-I-didn’t-read-it” pile.
    Now I can go ahead and read it.
    I happened upon “Half way to Heaven” while reading “The Big Year”,and
    enjoyed the book! Congratulations on the impending baby.

  5. Thanks for the congrats. Baby should arrive any moment now. Forget Me Not still celebrates climbing, but it deals directly with the passions on both sides and for all parties. I’m sure that there will be some rough spots, but it’s a story I think I need to read.

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