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Item #: OP75-732
DOWNWARD BOUND: A MAD! GUIDE TO ROCK CLIMBING Warren Harding 1990 Paperback New SIGNED by Royal Robbins
By Harding, Warren
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Detailed Product Description

Alabama, 1990. 197 pp, b/w photos and illustrations by Beryl Knauth. New paperback. 

A rock climbing classic, as funny and relevant today as when it was written in 1975, Downward Bound is Warren Harding's offbeat and inventive climbing classic. Harding gives readers an introduction to climbing and recounts his first ascents of the Nose and the Wall of the Early Morning Light on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.

The introduction to rock climbing and big walls is farcical. The tales of his ascents are vivid. And throughout he strives to return some of the fun to climbing through humorous story telling of the climbing culture of the 60s and 70s. Downward Bound is a testament to the rebellious and magnetic Batso.

Excerpt: "Why do people climb? How the hell do I know? Answers to this perennial question range from Mallory’s rather facetious (I think) “Because it’s there” to (again) Mallory’s enigmatic “If you ask the question, there can be no answer.”

Personally, I dig another version of Mallory’s statement. Like, “We climb because it’s there and we’re mad!” How else could you explain freezing your ass off, battling heat and thirst, scaring yourself to death just to get up some rock face or mountain peak. Rock climbing is especially questionable in this respect. In basic mountain climbing the object is to reach the summit by any or the easiest route possible. In rock climbing it’s not really necessary to reach a summit; the game seems to amount to finding the most difficult ways of getting nowhere.


SIGNED by Royal Robbins.  

There is irony in Robbins signing Harding's book, as Harding and Robbins had differences about climbing style and ethics, back when  those "rules" were first being worked out. Harding uses some satire about Robbins in the book. But, in the end, they became friends.

This book is a combination of instruction, satire, and autobiography. Harding (1924-2002) is best known for his first ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite, the pioneering ascent of the Nose route with numerous partners, in 1958. He also made the controversial first ascent of El Capitan's Wall of the Early Morning Light in 1970, a climb that attracted national press attention.

The majority of this book is about Harding's early climbing days in Yosemite with focus on the first ascent of the Nose and the first ascent of the Wall of the Early Morning Light. Anecdotes abound in connection with Harding's contemporary climbers in the Valley: Royal Robbins, T.M. Herbert, Yvon Chouinard, Don Lauria, Chuck Pratt, Galen Rowell, etc.

The book closes with an tongue-in-cheek appendix where Harding rates these and other climbers (61 total) on a scale of 1 to 10, and presents his reasons plus some biographical notes on each climber.


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