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Inner Ranges
An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People
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Contact: Rocky Mountain Books
INNER RANGES An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People:<br />
Geoff Powter
Last 5 Reviews
Inner Ranges
An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People

SIDECOUNTRY
An Ice Climber's Guide To Southern New Hampshire and Eastern New York
By Todd Swain

ERGONOMIC Ice Axe

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INNER RANGES An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People:
Geoff Powter
Rocky Mountain Books
$18.79

When I first saw this book in a shop and read INNER RANGES on the cover, it did not appeal to me. The title seemed too vague. What caught my attention, however, was its more interesting subtitle and the name of author whom I had seen onstage at the Banff Mountain Films and Books festival circa 1998.

Don't make the same mistake that I nearly did , and pass it by. For this is an excellent book on mountaineering and I am glad to make it the first of many books that I hope to review.

Geoff Powter is an active climber who resides in Canmore, Canada. He's no armchair mountaineer or slacker. He is well versed in rock climbing, ice climbing, sport climbing, big walls and the Himalayas. His articles have appeared in Gripped, Polar Circus, Explore, the Canadian Alpine Journal, as well as Rock and Ice.

Climbing literature seems to be in a phase of re-invention after the decades of expedition books. The current trends are about the darker aspects of the sport such as injury, death, loss, and grief. INNER RANGES takes a different trail. It is the author's retrospective commentary on his writings.

The opening chapters depict Powter's early climbs, expeditions, failures, debacles and lessons in climbing's various subspecialties. The stories have a tad of black humor as well as self-deprecation. What emerges is a climber who has a well-earned degree from the school of hard knocks and rocks.

Then comes a few non-climbing stories, the first of which is investigative journalism into the slaughter of wild horses in the Canadian Rockies, followed by the deaths of a climbing couple due to a toxin known as the silent killer. There are also deep dives into a NOLS type course for mountain skills and a piece about the intense training of certified Canadian mountain guides.

A section on the Everest Disaster (think 1996 - Into Thin Air) exposes the many facets about commercial guiding on the 8,000 footers and focuses on both the adventure-preneurs and media exploitation. Again, Geoff Powter nails it. Halfway through the book there is a Monty Python twist ("and now for something completely different"). The chapter entitled The Partner From Hell is a fun read in the mode of Gonzo Journalism (i.e. Hunter Thompson) about an expedition to the great ranges led by a swaggering buffoon/mountaineer. If you have gray hair, like I do, you will likely be reminded of a previous satirical classic, "The Ascent of Rum Doodle". Get yourself on belay so you don't fall off the couch laughing as you read Powter's fiction.

In the Vertical Limit story, Powter chronicles a magazine assignment that puts him behind the scenes at the filming of a major Hollywood movie about mountain climbing. This author is well networked and sure gets around ! There's plenty of backstage drama and cinema industry insight as well as many Ready- Set- ACTION sequences.

The final, and finest, parts of this book are profiles of mountain people. It seems that Powter saves his best writing for last. One of the reasons it is so good is that Powter is a clinical psychologist whose well-honed interviewing skills enable him to venture far into the adventurous spirits of mountain personalities. Some profiles are about iconic Canadian climbers such as THE Barry Blanchard, prolific Sonnie Trotter, and the reclusive ice-doctor, Raphael Slawinski (a truly great profile of an alpinist). The stories about a brilliant naturalist, a hyper adventure woman, a prolific "numbers man" mountaineer and a climber recovering from a major accident are likewise fascinating.

Inner Ranges ends with the author writing about one of his own heroes, Canada's long forgotten Everest pioneer, Earl Denman, whose life story and its telling were so impressive that Geoff Powter embraces it as his own life changing experience.

Truth be told, this is a top shelf book, and one that reminded me to never judge a book by its cover.

Conclusion:  Truth be told, this is a top shelf book, and one that reminded me to never judge a book by its cover.

Details: ISBN 9781771602877
Softcover
Publication Date - September 7, 2018
Book Dimensions - 5.25 in x 8 in
360 Pages

Dennis Crean
January 2024

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