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Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers and Nature at Risk Hardcover – November 14, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Clear, original, rigorous, and convincing, Pilgrims of the Vertical is like nothing else written on the subject. It represents a huge advance in the history of climbing as a sport and lifestyle. Taylor argues that climbing was always a complex social activity and offers valuable context in which climbers can accurately assess the value and risks of their sport. I believe this book has the ability to alter the way climbing literature is written, and I recommend it with great enthusiasm. (Michael P. Cohen, author of The Pathless Way and The History of the Sierra Club)

Well written and highly readable, this narrative history of climbing culture in Yosemite National Park demonstrates the ways in which environmental history can enrich our understanding of climbing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and expect it will find a wide audience of scholars and general readers inside and outside the climbing community. (Kerwin Klein, University of California, Berkeley)

Pilgrims of the Vertical (a phrase borrowed from climber-turned-entrepreneur Royal Robbins) is at once a chronicle of how the sport evolved in Yosemite and a fascinating social history that considers climbing in the larger context of American life...For the general reader, the book makes a fine introduction to the history of climbing and Yosemite's special place in its development. (Michael J. Ybarra Wall Street Journal 2010-10-30)

During the second half of the 20th century, Yosemite Valley was the center of development for the sport of rock climbing in North America. Techniques of extreme rock climbing were developed on the rock walls of Yosemite, and modern attitudes toward this high-risk sport were developed by the valley's climbing society...This well-documented book makes a significant contribution to the literature about climbing. (A. Spero Choice 2011-04-01)

Through his examination of rock climbing in Yosemite, Taylor illuminates important shifts in masculinity (and gender relations more broadly), morality, risk, environmental politics, constructions of nationhood, and consumerism that extend well beyond the rock climbing community to tell us something about (principally American) society more broadly. Even this list is not exhaustive, further testifying to Taylor's socio-historical insight...The breadth and depth of Taylor's analysis is impressive...Without a doubt, this book makes valuable contributions to a number of different bodies of literature, both within and beyond the sport history field. I recommend it to readers without reservation. (Jason Laurendeau Journal of Sport History 2011-09-01)

About the Author

Joseph E. Taylor III is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in History and Geography, Simon Fraser University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; F First Edition edition (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674052870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674052871
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the daughter of one of the early California climbers featured in Pilgrims of the Vertical, my earliest years were spent dangling from a rope in Berkeley while the climbers practiced their belays (for falls, they used each other). Our house was climber central, as the Sunday dinners were held there, and the ropes were kept in our garage. So I am able to say first-hand that Taylor's facts and instincts are amazingly accurate. He caught the camaraderie that existed in the early days to a "Tee". It was a socially cohesive group, the Cragmont climbers, who partied together, named their babies after each other, skied together, hiked and camped together--even lived near each other in the Berkeley hills. I loved this book, and learned a lot.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want an accurate retelling of the climbing environment in Yosemite, this is for you! However, if you have only climbed a little and are reading this for entertainment value only like me, let me forewarn you that this book reads more like a term paper with endless reference citings and quotes. I found myself bored in the first part and started scanning pages. However, somewhere around the late 50s he really finds his "entertainment" stride and gives a great history of the valley, the events, and the people. Most I had heard of but specifically I had never heard of the feats of Bachar that were quite impressive specifically relating to free climbing. At this part which is almost half way through the book he describes groups like the Beats and Traditionalists and talks of the evolution both in theory of climbing and equipment. The equipment descriptions may be the most fascinating.

So, in summary, this is a very good book. But be forewarned it is heavier reading and not really just an entertainment book. Approximately the last 50 pages are cites of research references which is not typical of my entertaining books. Do not take this as a negative; just know what you are getting into. By the end, I enjoyed it very much.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a climber. Not a famous or great climber but a climber none the less. I know or have met a fair number of Tue people featured in this book and have a few very minor Yosemite first ascents.

I found this book to be a very interesting social history of Yosemite climbing. It filled in many gaps That I had in my understanding of this fascinating web of charactors and challenges.

I wouldn't call it a gripping page turner but is should be required reading for anybody who has any interest or connection to California climbing.

Taylor pulls no punches in his assement of the main personalities or their motivations. It is rightfully a story filled with primadonnas and humble, retiring heroes.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joe Taylor writes a thourough historical analysis of Yosemitie climbers and the interwoven social, technological, environmental threads that have shaped the climbing world up to today. This book is grounded in historical medthods, but the prose is light and fun as well. Taylor's book is a perfect "big picture" history of climbing for climbers, as well as a fine read for historians and students of environmental recreation and outdoor leisure.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Irrespective of the merits of the book, I am very disappointed that the Kindle edition omits almost all of the illustrations and photographs. I expect better, particularly at the price.
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