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Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith (Ember Press) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Ember Press
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Ember Press; First edition (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1467509345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1467509343
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Dick Griffith has lived the sort of big, wild life that most cardboard-cutout adventurers of today only dream of living. He has engaged the wilderness in his own way on his own terms without ever once pandering to sponsors. He has undertaken adventures hard to believe, and survived everyone of them. The result is a life so awe inspiring you may not believe this book true. But every damn word is as real as the north-country dangers that have killed lesser men. --Craig Medred, reporter for Alaska Dispatch, former outdoor columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and author of Graveyard of Dreams.

At a time when few river canyons had been traversed in the 1950s, Dick Griffith had the temerity to venture into the wild and unknown Barranca del Cobre in Mexico without even a proper topographic map. His ingenuity was amazing - realizing on his first trip that large rafts were woefully misplaced, he returned with more appropriate gear - basically a packraft. He then successfully made the first descent of the canyon along with his wife Isabelle and several Tarahumara, an amazing accomplishment. Just as admirable is how he sought no recognition for his achievement - in fact, few knew of the accomplishment until the past few years. --James "Rocky" Contos, Ph.D., Director, SierraRios and author of Mexican Whitewater: Norte.

--James "Rocky" Contos, Ph.D., Director, SierraRios and author of Mexican Whitewater: Norte.

At a time when few river canyons had been traversed in the 1950s, Dick Griffith had the temerity to venture into the wild and unknown Barranca del Cobre in Mexico without even a proper topographic map. His ingenuity was amazing - realizing on his first trip that large rafts were woefully misplaced, he returned with more appropriate gear - basically a packraft. He then successfully made the first descent of the canyon along with his wife Isabelle and several Tarahumara, an amazing accomplishment. Just as admirable is how he sought no recognition for his achievement - in fact, few knew of the accomplishment until the past few years. --James "Rocky" Contos, Ph.D., Director, SierraRios and author of Mexican Whitewater: Norte.

About the Author

Kaylene Johnson is author of five books about Alaska and the people who live there. Her books include Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down; Trails Across Time: History of an Alaska Mountain Corridor; Portrait of the Alaska Railroad and the memoir A Tender Distance: Adventures Raising My Son in Alaska.

More About the Author

Kaylene Johnson is author of five books about Alaska and the people who live there. Her books include Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down; Trails Across Time: History of an Alaska Mountain Corridor; Portrait of the Alaska Railroad and the memoir A Tender Distance: Adventures Raising My Son in Alaska. Her award-winning articles and essays have appeared in the Louisville Review, LA Times, and other publications . She received a B.A. from Vermont College and holds an M.F.A. in writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.

Customer Reviews

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This is the mesmerizing story of an amazing man.
Reading Mom
I've read about half of it; had to put it away in the garage or I would have stayed up until I finished it in one session!
Lavonne Rhyneer
I would highly recommend this book to anyone into reading about true adventure!
Kyle Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Roman Dial on August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Canyons and Ice" is a non-fiction account of an unbelievable life, the life of Dick Griffith.

At 85, Dick Griffith has lived several lives, and this is the book that tells those stories.

Based on more than 500 pages of his notes and journals and well illustrated with his photos spanning over sixty years, this is the definitive Dick Griffith book, the one as noted above, that we have all been waiting for. It's a biography, not autobiography, so it is much closer to his personal style and demeanor: ego-free.

In his 20s Dick was a canyoneer in Mexico before that term was coined, and whitewater rafter, taking his wife down Glen, Grand, and Copper Canyons in the 1950s. In his thirties, the year Alaska was granted Statehood, he traversed half the Brooks Range, solo and living off the land. In his 40s he took his two kids and their friends all over the Chugach Mountains and completed his traverse of the Brooks Range. In his 50s he introduced packrafting to the rest of us during the original adventure race, the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic. In his 60s and 70s and on skis he followed the Arctic coast of Alaska and the Northwest Passage to Hudson Bay, solo; at 64 he paddled the Grand Canyon in an open Sherpa Packraft (pre-Alpacka with smaller tubes and no spraydeck) also solo.

But there is much more to Dick than these wilderness adventures and fortunately for the rest of us, this book captures much of the human and family side of this great man.

The book is not a chronology of his un-sung achievements. No, it's a well-crafted narrative that intertwines these achievements with quotes and observations of Dick, his family, and his friends.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tom Martin on August 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
It is with great pleasure that I see the life story of Dick Griffith has just been published. I stumbled upon Dick's exploits with his stunning wife and life companion Isabelle Galo while researching my latest book on Grand Canyon river runners.

The first river runners to run Lava Falls in Grand Canyon were the team of George Flavell and Ramon Montez in 1896 as they piloted the wooden boat PANTHON through the cataract. It took another fifty five years before a rubber raft would attempt the run. That would be Dick Griffith, credited with the first run of Lava in a rubber boat in 1951. The photographer who documented his run was Isabelle.

A year later, Dick and Isabelle were pioneering routes through the Barranca del Cobre along the Urique River in northern Mexico, and by the close of the 1950's, Dick and Isabelle had moved to Alaska, where Dick began his love affair with long walks over the Wilderness of the arctic.

While the book recounts one man's love affair with Wilderness, it also chronicles a change to the land and people of remote landscapes. Indeed, the remote Grand Canyon and Urique Barranca Dick knew are gone, and the arctic badlands now team with snow machines and sport hunters. At one point in 1999, late in Dick's wanderings, an old Eskimo woman followed Dick out of Cambridge Bay into the icy Wildlands. Dick wrote in his journal "...She wanted to go back to the land where life was not easy but a happy one and like myself she must have loved the memories of a simple basic life."

While I would have liked to hear more about Dick's travels in the Himalaya, one of "...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rustyjames on August 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I literally could not put the story of Dick's life down, and I continue to revisit it although it has been thoroughly read. Dick is a rare individual, and we should all count ourselves lucky to have his great exploits available for us to read about. 1987 was Dick's last sojourn to Barranca del Cobre, and my first. Though our physical paths never crossed, he soon became a source of fascination for me, as over the years I came to know of him (and him!), his stories, and now his wonderful bio..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William G. Morris on July 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
After many years, at last, a gathering of Dick's life. I washed up in Anchorage in 1976, on the wave of a failing marriage, heading to the arctic to work on the pipeline. I was immediately invited to one of Dick's legandary sunday dinners, and found a life long place in the universe. I regard Izzie one of my best friends. Over the years, I have had many good dinners, many good adventures, and have found many like minded friends through his circle.
I have been down the Grand a few times with him. He was always the first up to kick the rest of us, hangovers and all, into motion. Following him on skis was always a challange of endurance. Above all, his generous nature has nurtured many into life and nature.
Barney, his son, and I have been working together for some decades. Perhaps this book will give you a bit of a window into one of the hardest hard men, and his son is certainly carrying on his legacy. Please to share in his world. It is truely a genuine adventure. bill morris
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bobbie Sue Wolk on July 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the book as yet to be released, I am SO excited that it is finally going to be printed. Dick's story will enchant you, challenge you and inspire you. His story has been hidden from public view for way too long. Get ready to meet a true pioneer - someone who has lived his life on purpose. His purpose. He is a true renaissance man. He is as tough as they come, but has the intellect of a scholar, the wisdom of a sage and the heart of a saint. OK...not quite a saint...but he is close!!
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