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Norman Clyde: Legendary Mountaineer of California's Sierra Nevada Paperback – October 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Norman Asa Clyde (8 Apr 1885 - 23 Dec 1972) was well educated (BA 1909, English, Honorary D. Sci (1939) Geneva College; and only lacked a thesis for an MA but he refused to participate in "dramas of the romance languages." He read in six different languages, including French, Italian and English. He was a teacher and principal for 18 years in places including North Dakota, Utah, Florence AZ, San Francisco and Independence CA.
Clyde married Winifred May Bolster (b. 1 May 1890, New York) on 15 June 1915 in Pasadena CA while Clyde was a student at UC Berkeley and Winifred was in nursing school in Oakland. Winifred suffered from tuberculosis for four years and died at age 29 on Valentine's Day, 14 February 1919. Clyde never spoke of his wife, even to close friends.
Clyde served as teacher (English, history, science, Latin) and Principal at Independence High School beginning in 1924, the same year local citizens seized control of the LA Aqueduct floodgates near the Alabama Hills in Owens Valley. A 1928 Halloween incident with students and a gun resulted in Clyde's resignation and freedom to embark upon a life lived in the open.
Some referred to him as "filthy McNasty" because he tended not to wash. Clyde lived at the mercy of the seasons, changing weather and his own rigorous schedule, equally at home on rock or skis.Read more ›
To get a real feel for the man, search out the chapter on Norman Clyde in "Walking Up and Down in the World" by Smoke Blanchard, which includes the priceless from-the-heart letter by Smoke written for the collection of Clyde writings "Norman Clyde of the Sierra Nevada: Rambles through the Range of Light". This letter is a classic of mountaineering literature.
Norman Clyde was a peculiar cross between a powerful and resourceful 19th century mountain man, a John Muir type devotee and scholar of the Sierra, and an obssessive 20th century peak bagger. For first ascents and focus he is exceeded only by the likes of Fred Beckey. Yet he was already 45 by 1930, before the era of technical climbing, so a majority of his first ascents were done solo with hobnailed shoes and gigantic ice axe, requiring remarkable skill, judgment, adaptability, strength, and nerves of steel. His 100 pound packs were legendary in themselves.
So what was it like for a rugged individual to roam the mountains in the 1920s? Pavlik gives us only glimpses. I'd like to see vivid, in-depth vignettes.
I grew up within walking distance of the mountains that Clyde knew so well, but rarely took advantage of the opportunity to hike; I believe that my life would have taken me down some very different paths if I had known about Norman Clyde 40 years ago. And I just might have been a better student of Latin and Greek, too. . . One of Clyde's poems is reproduced in the book. It begins as one might expect from a student of Homer--with a "rosy morn." But rather than detailing the life of a man of "twists and turns," the poem is a Wordsworth-like celebration of nature. Pavlik's book includes many choice passages from Clyde's own books and articles.
Clyde continued to trek and climb into his 80s. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. One thing is certain--it would be impossible to read Pavlik's "Norman Clyde" and not be inspired to climb your own mountains, whether they be real or figurative.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Norman was a very interesting guy. I knew him when I was in my late 20's and he was around 80. He came on several Sierra Club Trips I led in the '60's.Published 11 months ago by j Cook
In addition to Norman Cyde's foresight and accomplishments, it's interesting to read his personality. Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by Lemis
You can go dancing around the sierra very much without running into the ghost of Norman Clyde. I can't say that this book is the best written but I sure enjoyed it and recommend... Read morePublished on August 24, 2012 by Jack Young
Norman Asa Clyde, who died at the age of 87, in the township of Big Pine, California, was the greatest American alpinist of his time and probably any time to come. Read morePublished on September 1, 2011 by Thomas Cosgrove
I have read a lot of mountaineering books that covered a lot of mountaineers, but this is my favorite. Read morePublished on September 14, 2010 by Larryw
I can't say how many times I shook my head in amazement while reading this book. Norman Clyde was so dedicated to climbing and exploring the Sierras, so brave and stubborn, I... Read morePublished on December 19, 2009 by L. Martin
As one who frequents the eastern sierra, i thought this book was a wonderful step back in time. Really interesting stuff for those who have an interest in mountineering and would... Read morePublished on March 3, 2009 by M. Emerson