“Colorado’s Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs,” by Gerry Roach
Coloradan Gerry Roach has climbed about a million mountains. That’s not an exact number, but compared to most of us, it might as well be. Whatever the real number is, it’s so high that most of us have no concept of it. He’s climbed 1,200 named peaks in Colorado, including all the Thirteeners, and all the Fourteeners, which he completed in 1974. Most folks who move to Colorado’s Front Range spend their first winter here skiing, then buy Gerry Roach’s Fourteeners guide the next summer, when they realize they still want to do something cool in the mountains after the snow melts. This year, 12 years after the second edition of “Colorado’s Fourteeners,” Fulcrum Publishing is putting out the third edition of this bible of peak-bagging. This fatter edition adds another 70 pages, with new features of GPS coordinates and Roach’s own scoring system of mountain climbing, so you can keep track of your “R Points” as you tick off hikes. I don’t know exactly how it works, but it’s based on a peak’s elevation, length of the approach and climb in time and distance, elevation gain and technical difficulty of each pitch. The West Slopes on Mount Bierstadt, which you can climb with hundreds of people any Saturday during the summer, gets 140 R Points, while the 5.8 Prow on Kit Carson Peak gets 1,285 R Points. Still a steal at $22.95, with all the beta in here. www.fulcrum-books.com.
“Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout,” by Philip Connors
Philip Connors is the typical run-of-the-mill U.S. Forest Service employee. Except, you know, he can write like hell. His writing has appeared in such highbrow places as Harper’s, The Paris Review, The Nation and Salon.com. When he left a job as an editor at the Wall Street Journal to become a fire lookout 10 years ago, I’m sure he wasn’t hoping to get his hands on an adventure that would provide grist enough for him to write a book that would one day be reviewed in the Mountain Gazette. But here we are, and I’m not going to not use this opportunity to tell you this book is great, like Norman-Maclean-“Young-Men-and-Fire” great. Ruminations and history of wildfire, the Forest Service, work and solitude might make you jealous of Connors’ five-month-a-year job up in the lookout in the south part of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. Like this: “Most of us, if we could change one thing, would either make our seasons longer or forego days off, the longer to enjoy our state of grace and the quicker to attain it. Once you can sit on a stool for an afternoon, unmoving and unmoved by anything but light on mountains, you have become a sensei of the sedentary and need answer to no one for it, except perhaps your husband or your wife.” Connors is wrapping up his book tour out West this month. $24.99, HarperCollins.com.