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The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre Hardcover – December 16, 2014
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The contrast between the old and the new, very centered opinions by the author and a twist at the end that I was certainly not expecting made it one of the best mountain books I ever read. Cheers to Cordes and his brilliantly written book Thecampsiteblog.com
The Tower by Kelly Cordes is one, if not the best modern mountaineering book I've had the pleasure to read in a long time. Careful though. This is a book that is not easy to sit down. Sad part is, the book does has an ending. coldthistle.com
I simply loved this book, and I’m a weary veteran of one-too-many armchair mountaineering reads, not as easily impressed as I once was by any slab of paper with a mountain on the cover and photos inside of manly men with frost in their beards. I tore through The Tower in two nights, this with a newborn in the house: it’s a classic. climbingterms.com
Kelly Cordes has penned one of the most fascinating and well-written chronicles of Cerro Torre, one of the most beautiful, infamous and important mountains in the world. This is a must-have for any armchair mountaineer and history buff. Gripping read from start to finish. eveningsends.com
No mountain in the world is so otherworldly and has such a troubled history. This book is the most in-depth look yet. It examines the social and psychological context that has sparked fifty years of controversies and rivalries, and how belief influences everything weboth climbers and all of mankinddo.Climber Rolando Garibotti, author of Patagonia Vertical
combining cutting-edge climbing talent, a wicked sharp pen (okay, keyboard), and a passion for accuracy in mountain reporting.
-- John Harlin III, author of The Eiger Obsession
With passion, literary skill, and relentless curiosity, top-shelf alpinist Kelly Cordes takes us on a wild ride through the controversial history of Patagonia’s Cerro Torrethe most perfect mountain on earth.
Gregory Crouch, author of Enduring Patagonia
Kelly Cordes embodies the climbing spirit more than anyone I know. I admire him for the way he devotes himself completely to writing and the mountains. He is also my favorite storyteller. I can think of no one better to write the story of Cerro Torre.
-Tommy Caldwell, professional climber
From the Inside Flap
Mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s description of Cerro Torre, considered by many the most beautiful and compelling mountain in the world, articulates the challenge and controversy that has enveloped this mountain since Cesare Maestri claimed first ascent in 1959.
At the wind-scoured southern tip of Argentina, between the vast ice cap and the rolling estepas of Patagonia, rises a 10,262-foot tower of ice and rock named Cerro Torre. Considered by many the most beautiful and compelling mountain in the world, it draws the finest and most devoted technical alpinists from around the globe. Reinhold Messner, the greatest mountaineer in history, called it a shriek turned to stone.”
But controversy has swirled around Cerro Torre since 1959, when Italian climber Cesare Maestri claimed its first ascent. His partner died on the descent, and generations of world-class climbers attempting to retrace his route have found only contradictions. In 1970, enraged by the doubts and obsessed with proving his success, Maestri used a gasoline-powered air compressor to hammer hundreds of bolts, spaced to be used as ladders, into Cerro Torre’s flanks. The Compressor Route instantly became one of the most contentious routes in the climbing worldand, in the decades that followed, it became the most popular route on the mountain. In 2012, when two young, talented, and idealistic climbers, Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk, removed many of Maestri’s bolts, the controversy erupted anew. What role should equipment play in the accomplishments of climbers? Who has the right to alter a route, or a mountain? What is the impact of history on our ethics in the mountains? And, most fundamentally, what is the point of alpinism: the summit or the climb? This chronicle of hubris, heroism, principle, and epic journeys offers a glimpse into the human condition, and explores reasons why some pursue extreme endeavors that at face value have no worth.
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One somewhat bigger complaint: I got a little tired of the Maestri-bashing, particularly with repeated variations of the phrase, "until Maestri came along with his compressor." Kelly Cordes obviously thinks the compressor was a bad idea, but this becomes clear from the journalism without the need for sarcasm. Furthermore, Maestri is double-damned for lying about his first ascent and clinging to the notion that to question his word is to question the entire history of mountaineering. Cordes admirably covers the topic of standard of proof. Still, it would have been nice to hear more good things about Maestri. Did he really do over a thousand first ascents? Apart from national pride, is there a good reason why some people are so fanatically loyal to him? Too bad Walter Bonatti didn't get the benefit of some of that national pride.
My hardback accidentally included repeats of the first 20 pages of color photos after the index, so I cut some out and stuck them on the wall. Very inspiring.
There is much to appreciate and learn from the climbs shared. While the truths of some situations written about may never be fully known, Cordes does justice to the people involved, laying the evidence and contradictions bare. I know in my limited experience as an Andenista, when the air is thin, the day is long, and the weather is bad, how reality can become distorted. Cordes does well incorporating human elements and a reasonable benefit of doubt into the presentation of his research.
Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Cordes.