Fifty Favorite Climbs, The Ultimate North American Tick List
Some books require your full attention. You know the kind, ones that won't let you put them down until you've read the whole damn thing from cover to cover. You read it on the train, on the john, at the breakfast table, anywhere you can grab a couple of minutes! The kind that keep you up till 2AM, 4 nights in a row, waking up all groggy from dreaming about the story you've been reading.
Well, Mark Kroese's Fifty Favorite Climbs, isn't likely to do that to you. But hey, in my book that's not a negative. In fact it's the perfect book for someone like me with a wife, a 2-year-old, a cat, a dog, a day job and serious climbing habit. You can pick it up, open it anywhere, and in less than 20 minutes drool at a superb climbing picture, read a great vignette about a master climber on an awesome climb and gawk at the well crafted topo. And if you don't even have time for that, you can just flip through the pictures and get off - all while the kiddo is doing laybacks off your leg.
Mark Kroese has done a great job on what could have been every editor's nightmare. He manages to keep a consistent narrative flow throughout the book's 224 pages, capturing the essence of each climber and the feeling behind the route. The consistent format of the book throughout works very well: a full page picture to capture your imagination, two pages of text consisting of a bio of each climber and Kroese's retelling of their story and a well drawn topo.
I did have two nit-picks. First, maybe I misunderstand the term favorite, but I figure that would mean a climb they would repeat over & over and recommend to lots of other climbers. Some like Lynn Hill and Ron Kaulk do exactly that, but others seem to be talking just about the hardest thing they've ever done. I also think that some of the pictures could have been better. For example it's hard to believe that the picture chosen of Astroman was the best one that's available, or that there is no better shot of Mt. Chephren for Joe Josephson's description of The Wild Thing. Remember these are just quibbles with an excellent book that won this year's Banff Book Festival award for Best Book - Mountain Exposition and The High Himalaya.
Fifty Favorite Climbs has found a place of honor on my nightstand! Yeah it's kind of expensive, yeah it's a bit large, but yeah it's a book I'll probably keep picking up again and again for some time to come. I'll give it a 5. Nice job Mark.
topos, colpr photos, ISBN #: 0-89886-728-2