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Great American Rock Climbs


by  Richard DuMais


High Peak Books, Wilson, Wyoming, 1995. Black-and-white photos, topos; 115 pages


"Richard DuMais tackles a topic paradoxically simple and difficult in his Great American Rock Climbs by attempting to chronicle a sampling of the great climbing of all grades and types to be found throughout the United States. Any well-traveled and experienced rock climber, armchair or otherwise, can rattle off a dozen eminently classic routes scattered across the nation: the Nose, Bastille Crack, Repentance, High Exposure... the list would be as wide and deep as a climber's knowledge. (…)
Though I have climbed a third of those the author selected and have no real complaints, readers of Great American Rock Climbs will undoubtedly find some of their favorites overlooked by DuMais — and might grimace at the inclusion of what they consider less worthy routes. (…)
Great American Rock Climbs' most significant shortcomings lie in its lack of a specific audience. I approached it as a to-do list for climbers and felt disappointed in the style in which DuMais presented the routes: a photograph of the formation, but no means to locate the route on the formation, and an adjoining topo only very rarely featuring distinguishing landmarks to link it with the photograph. This layout of illustrations, coupled with the fact that the reader needs to delve into the smallest of print to discover in which state the climb might be found, made it seem to me that DuMais had written the book to be appreciated by climbers who had already done the routes he had selected. (…)
Overall, I could appreciate Great American Rock Climbs for what it was: brief descriptions and accompanying topos and photos of over fifty excellent climbs; but I felt disappointment over what the book could have been."
Peter Caster, “ American Alpine Journal” 1996, p. 356-358


"Promoted as an update to the adventure climbers inspirational Fifty Classic Climbs of North America by Steve Roper and Allen Steck (1979), Great American Rock Climbs by Richard DuMais presents five dozen “classic routes” from  13  states. Like Steck and Roper, DuMais covers the routes with a narrative description of each climb's historical and aesthetic importance. Though he admits to favoritism in making up his list of routes, by and large he has made a stellar selection. (…)
Overall, the book is poorly done but, considering how climbers covet Steck and Ropers "classics" book, will probably sell favorably. There's no denying that DuMais has selected some real winners — Crimson Chrysalis, Astroman, Igor Unchained— and surely, this slim volume will shape many a holiday for years to come. Yet, DuMais should have taken the time to create a more noble tribute to these "great American rock climbs" with some sensitivity to access issues and some respect for editorial excellence."
Eve Tallman, “Climbing” 1996,  No. 159, 160-161 


"DuMais' latest effort showcases some 55 classics drawn from climbing areas throughout the US. Like Roper and Steck's Fifty Classic Climbs, to which comparisons will inevitably be made, Great American Rock Climbs falls somewhere within the difficult realm between a real climbing guide and a coffee-table book. Both tomes feature a similar level of detail about the history of the routes surveyed; both use black-and-white photographs that are most often long shots of the entire climb. In a surprisingly modern twist, DuMais substitutes topos for the detailed-yet-vague verbal descriptions favored by Roper and Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs is very well organized, with a comprehensive index, bibliography and other appendices. The same cannot be said for Great American Rock Climbs, which has neither an index nor a table of contents. This surely limits its usefulness as a reference and cannot help but annoy the casual reader. (…)
Of course, many climbers will quibble with some of the choices: Is Igor Unchained really the most classic route in the Needles? Why isn't a route on the Diamond included? Why is the 5.13 East Face of Monkey Face included among generally moderate routes? These questions are to be expected. A list like this has value not because one agrees or disagrees with it, but because of the glimpse it provides into the person and times that created it. DuMais calls this "a book not just of routes, but of dreams." These are DuMais' dreams; reflecting on them may help you with your own."
Ray Snead, „Rock & Ice” 1995, July/August, No. 68, p. 142

 

 

 

 
See also
 Books/Movies
Fifty Classic
Climbs of North America
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