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WE ASPIRED: THE LAST INNOCENT AMERICANS Pete Sinclair 1994 2nd printing Paperback Fine
By Sinclair, Pete
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Utah, Utah State University Press, 1994, 1st edition 2nd printing. 232 pp, photos. Used paperback. Fine.

A highly acclaimed account of Sinclair's many years of climbs and rescues as a Teton Ranger, and makes exhilarating reading. Also includes McKinley climbs.  The golden age of American climbing lasted a mere dozen years, during which it burgeoned in several centers, one of them the Tetons.

Sinclair's (English, Evergreen State Coll.) account is an autobiographical history of that time and place. The book is worth considering for several reasons. First, as the work of a literate, intelligent writer, it explains more clearly than any other recent mountaineering book why climbers climb. Also, it deals with a decade, 1959-69, when all serious climbers knew each other. Finally, it reports on one aspect of climbing that no other book does: mountain rescue. 

Sinclair, a former climber and ranger at Grand Teton National Park in the 1960s and now a professor of English at Evergreen State College, has written a book mainly for mountaineers, a memoir of how some young men of the post-World War II generation found themselves in the mountains out West. His dramatic, well-told narrative encompasses a climb up Mt. McKinley in Alaska, a sometimes perilous trek to Mexico and many tales of life as a ranger, including some poignant and not always successful rescue efforts.

As a Dartmouth '58 dropout influenced by political activist Allard Lowenstein, Sinclair went to Wyoming, where, after living as a ski bum, he embraced rescue work as a way to make his contribution to society and found many virtues in mountain-culture camaraderie. Sinclair ultimately left Wyoming for academia and parenthood; his son, without any push from his father, has also sought out the 'sacred' mountains. Sinclair's subtitle seems a bit broad, but he suggests, with a measure of conviction, that his was a generation 'that aspired to be heroes but ended up in the hero business.' 
 
The Grand Tetons from Wikipedia:

Grand Teton is the highest mountain within Grand Teton National Park, and the second highest in the U.S. state of Wyoming (after Gannet Peak in the Wind River Range). The origin of the name is controversial. The most common explanation is that 'Grand Teton' means 'large teat' in French, named by either French-Canadian or Iroquois members of an expedition led by Donald McKenzie of the Northwest Company. However, other historians disagree, and claim that the was named after the Teton Sioux tribe of Native Americans.

There is a controversy over who made the first ascent of Grand Teton. Nathaniel Langford and James Stevenson claimed to reach the summit on July 29, 1872. However, their description and sketches match the summit of The Enclosure, a side peak of Grand Teton. The Enclosure is named after a man-made palisade of rocks on its summit, probably constructed by Native Americans. When William O. Owen climbed the true summit, he found no trace of prior human passage. Therefore, The Enclosure was probably first climbed by Native Americans, and the true summit was first climbed by William Owen.

Grand Teton can be climbed with minimal gear via the Owen-Spalding route (5.5). However, it is highly exposed and experience is recommended. The Owen-Spalding route is named after the climbers who made the first claimed ascent: William Owen, Franklin Spalding, Frank Peterson and John Shive. There is some debate as to which person made the first ascent; however most agree this group was the first. Their route begins at the Upper Saddle which is reached by walking from Lupine Meadows Trailhead, up Garnet Canyon, to the Lower Saddle.

Another famous route up the mountain is the Exum Ridge route (5.6), a 13-pitch exposed route first climbed by Glenn Exum, co-founder of Exum Mountain Guides. This route, too, can be found on the southern face of the mountain. The Owen-Spalding and Exum Ridge routes can be climbed from the base of the mountain at Lupine Meadows in one long day but the average person takes two days (a permit is required for an overnight stay in the backcountry). Routes up the north face are more difficult but famous in the climbing world.

The Grand Teton can also be skied in the winter. The first descent on skis was made by Bill Briggs in the spring of 1971; a route on the Owen-Spalding is now named in his honor.


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