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Item #: GB1117-665
MOUNTAINEER'S GUIDE TO THE HIGH SIERRA [Controversial] Andy Smatko & Hervey Voge 1972 1st ed Sierra Club Totebook Edition
By Smatko, Andrew J. & Hervey H. Voge
Price: $35.00


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Detailed Product Description

SF, Sierra Club, 1972, 1st edition. 356 pp, maps, diagrams. Fine condition.

This may be the most controversial climbing guide in USA history. In 1972, at the height of the backpacking and mountaineering boom, the Sierra Club produced this guidebook. And oddly, its not poorly written nor does it have bad directions. Here is what happened.

The Sierra Club and the author, Andrew Smatko, felt that with so many new routes being done in the Sierra Nevada of California, that they should divide the book into two halves. But rather than do it geographically like most guidebooks do when they split, they did it by CLIMBING GRADE! 

This guidebook therefore has all the routes from class one to class four, easy rock climbing. The intention was to bring out another volume with all the Fifth Class routes in it. Which means you would have to buy and carry two guidebooks to do one peak, certainly if you were on a longer trip and didn't know which routes you might do. 

The other problem with the guidebook is that the High Sierra has many minor peaks, bumps along a ridge, that are at best are named in the guidebook by their altitude. As there were no unclimbed peaks left in the Sierra in 1972, all the bumps had been climbed, but never recorded in guidebooks. 

Many even had cairns. Nevertheless, Andy Smatko and his friends recorded hundreds of their ascents of these nubbins as a ''First Recorded Ascent''.  This is okay for Mount Whitney as Indians climbed it centuries ago, but not for every minor peak!

I was climbing in California at the time, and remember the horrible response to this book when it came out. I guess it foretold the eventual separation of the Sierra Club from climbing altogether, as not long afterwards the Club stopped training climbers and leading technical climbing trips.

Fortunately the Sierra Club did correct their mistake by having Steve Roper do his own High Sierra Guidebook, of which we usually have copies.  It has everything, all routes on all the peaks, which make it easy to pick the route you want to do. Also all later guidebooks such as the Secor guide and Super Topo Guides are selected books, with only the best of most popular routes listed.   


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