Stone Mountains, Best Climbs and Skiing Tales

by Brendan Leonard on April 5, 2011

“Stone Mountains,” by Jim Thornburg

“Stone Mountains” is 10 pounds of coffee table awesomeness. Photographer Jim Thornburg masterfully captures it all in this 320-page behemoth — in his photos, the rock is the star just as much as the climber. There are plenty of photos of climbers on moderate routes, which makes the book inspirational in a way — you might find yourself writing down names of routes and areas and planning your next trip around them. Thornburg’s photos truly span the continent, from Squamish to Potrero Chico and everything in between: Smith Rock, Tahoe, Yosemite, Tuolumne, Bishop, Needles, J-Tree, Red Rocks (and Vegas Limestone), St. George, Zion, Mount Lemmon, Cochise, Hueco, Horse Pens, Chattanooga, Obed, North Carolina, The New, Seneca Rocks, The Red, The Gunks, Rumney, North Conway, Devils Tower, Wyoming, Boulder, Rifle, Moab, Joe’s Valley, Maple Canyon, SLC and City of Rocks.

If you’re a climber, this book will make you count the days until spring, or go ahead and decide it’s okay to put a plane ticket to Joshua Tree or Red Rocks on your credit card. If you are buying a birthday gift for a climber, this book should be it. Jim Thornburg has spent 20 years of his life photographing climbing, and we can all be better off for it.

$59.99 at ChesslerBooks.com or JimThornburg.com.

Best Climbs Series, by Stewart Green

Stewart Green must have spent most of his adult life writing guidebooks. He has more than a dozen to his name, including five or so mega-guidebooks to climbing areas in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, New England and Europe. Typically the climbing books are overviews of a state or region’s more worthwhile areas and run about 500 pages and contain more than 1,000 routes. He’s back with a series of three books from Falcon Guides — “Best Climbs Moab,” “Best Climbs Denver and Boulder” and “Best Climbs Rocky Mountain National Park” — which are much more digestible overviews to throw in a backpack. Each book contains 140-200 routes at the better crags in each area, and clocks in at a much more svelte 145 pages. Those who own Green’s earlier guidebooks can consider these more focused, localized versions of their wide-angle predecessors — the Denver and Boulder volume covers 25 crags in seven geographical areas, including trad, sport and bouldering, from 5.2 to 5.14a. Those who are just visiting for a weekend or three a year, or someone just getting started climbing in an area, can find enough climbs in one of these editions to keep them busy. Full-color photo topos, beefy pages and a sewn binding keep these up to the higher standard of the later generation of guidebooks, and beat the hell out of some of the hand-drawn black-and-white topos in the guidebooks of old. These are pure beta, with a minimum of historical info.

$18.95 at falcon.com.

“The Perfect Turn and Other Tales of Skiing and Skiers,” by Dick Dorworth

Dick Dorworth has probably been skiing longer than you’ve been alive. He raced for 15 years starting in 1950 all around the world, and set the world speed record in 1963. He coached the U.S. Ski Team and was director of the Aspen Mountain Ski School. Lucky for you, he can write about it, too. You may have read his stories in magazines such as SKI, Skiing, Powder, Snow Country, Men’s Journal, and your beloved Mountain Gazette — Chapter 6 of this book, “In Pursuit of Pure Speed,” appeared recently, in MG #173. If you liked that story, prepare for more tales from the heart of man whose life has been defined in large part by skiing and the people and places he’s encountered doing it. Dorworth, based in Ketchum, Idaho, fills these pages with striking narrative of skinning up Bald Mountain and the feeling of breaking 100 mph on skis; opines about the frustrating treatment of ski instructors in America; details the history of speed skiing; and reminisces about old friends (ski filmmaker Dick Barrymore) and chance encounters (the day he skied with Sen. Ted Kennedy). A great read on your way to make turns somewhere, in the middle of winter or before spring backcountry skiing.

$15.95 at westerneyepress.com.


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