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Early Days in the Range of Light: Encounters with Legendary Mountaineers
     

Early Days in the Range of Light: Encounters with Legendary Mountaineers

by Daniel Arnold
 

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It's 1873. Gore-Tex shells and aluminum climbing gear are a century away, but the high mountains still demand your attention. Imagine the stone in your hands and thousands of feet of open air below you, with only a wool jacket to weather a storm and no rope to catch a fall.

Daniel Arnold did more than imagine — he spent three years retracing the steps of his

Overview

It's 1873. Gore-Tex shells and aluminum climbing gear are a century away, but the high mountains still demand your attention. Imagine the stone in your hands and thousands of feet of open air below you, with only a wool jacket to weather a storm and no rope to catch a fall.

Daniel Arnold did more than imagine — he spent three years retracing the steps of his climbing forefathers, and in Early Days in the Range of Light, he tells their riveting stories. From 1864 to 1931, the Sierra Nevada witnessed some of the most audacious climbing of all time. In the spirit of his predecessors, Arnold carried only rudimentary equipment — no ropes, no harness, no specialized climbing shoes. Sometimes he left his backpack and sleeping bag behind as well, and, like John Muir, traveled for days with only a few pounds of food rolled into a sack slung over his shoulder.

In an artful blend of history, biography, nature, and adventure writing, Arnold brings to life the journeys and the terrain traveled. In the process he uncovers the motivations that drove an extraordinary group of individuals to risk so much for airy summits and close contact with bare stone and snow.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Dan has done something unique in climbing histories—he went back in time—first, by ferreting out and suffusing himself with ancient lore, then by forgoing modern equipment, and finally by retracing the finger-and-footholds used by the first climbers. His approach, as wackily original as the colorful characters he introduces, worked. This ‘book’ is really a Technicolor time machine to the earliest explorations of American high peaks.” —Peter Croft

Kirkus Reviews
A spirited journey in the footsteps-or footholds-of the mountaineers who first explored the Sierra Nevada. An experienced climber in the mountains of California, Arnold decided to trace his literary and alpinistic ancestry by examining "high and visually striking" mountains that inspired other adventurers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, profiling the men who undertook them in the process. Over several years, he divided his time between library and mountain wall. In order to recapture his ancestors' spirits, he "had to climb the way they did," which meant leaving behind safety ropes, carabineers and other "modern climbing paraphernalia." His first stop was Mount Brewer, high in the Sierra, whose namesake had been climbing the range since 1860 from the Mexican border to Mount Shasta, but who had not visited the central, toughest wilderness of peaks behind Yosemite, "a dense parade of mountains, sharp summits, and narrow spires," until 1864. A weird pyramid of broken boulders awaited him and his party, a mountain that captivated Brewer, who "had seen nothing so large and lonely in America, nor so desolate." Similar experiences awaited Clarence King, John Muir, Norman Clyde and other legendary climbers, who exploits introduced lowlanders to such things as Kings Canyon and Mount Whitney. Arnold had plenty of exploits of his own, as when, on Mount Clarence King high in the middle Sierra, he stepped on a loose plate of rock and watched as it caromed down 500 feet, striking a cliff several times before exploding, "filling the air with thunder and a smell like shot gunpowder." Yet, as he recounts, only five minutes later the mountains are quiet again, having absorbed the event and regainingtheir eternal composure. This well-written combination of history, memoir and travelogue should find a welcome home in many climbing collections.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582435190
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
09/29/2009
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
734,420
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

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