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Climbing Free - by Lynn Hill and Greg Child
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Contact: WW Norton
Climbing Free, My Life In The Vertical World
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Climbing Free, My Life In The Vertical World
WW Norton
$$24.95 hardcover, $15.95 paperback

Lynn Hillís autobiography Climbing Free, written with help from author Greg Child, was recently reprinted in paperback. Having not read the hardcover (Iím way too cheap to pay $30 or so for a sports autobiography, even if the sport is climbing), I was pleased when Al offered me the opportunity to review the paperback for NEClimbs. And, on the whole, I was not disappointed. The book is essentially a collection of anecdotes, stories about both the evolution of climbing in the U.S. and about Lynn Hillís evolution as a climber, and as such it proved itself to be an easy and enjoyable read. From the first chapter, in which Lynn describes her 70í fall on the cliffs of Buoux, through her description of her ascent of the Nose, each chapter draws you in, gives you an exciting little thrill, and then lets you go. The glimpses of climbing history (there is a wonderful description of the meeting of the American Alpine Club that solidified the schism between Sport and Trad climbing) are as entertaining as the descriptions of Hillís own exploits, and Lynn does a good job too of giving the reader a little glimpse into the personal lives of the climbers who made the Yosemite of the 1970ís such an exciting and interesting place.

The book does have itís weaknesses, however. I found Lynnís sermonizing on the power of a ďcan doĒ attitude a bit cloying, and her insistence that mental focus and belief in oneís self have more to do with flashing a 5.13 than physical strength and innate ability a bit disingenuous (not to mention annoying, since Iím lucky if I can flash anything, regardless of my mental state). High art the book is not.

Conclusion:  If youíre looking for a good book to take on a trip to the beach, or are simply out for some cheap vicarious climbing thrills, Climbing Free will not let you down.

Details: 336 pages, color and B/W photos, hardcover and paperback, ISBN: 0-393-32433-8

Jeff Cavicchi
July 2003

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