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Home » Books and Publications » Roof of the Rockies: A History of Colorado Mountaineering

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Roof of the Rockies: A History of Colorado Mountaineering
By William B. Bueler


The British mountaineer R.L.G. Irving wrote of the sharp peak above Zermatt that, "When every rib of every facet of the Matterhorn has been climbed, it will still be climbed and still admired for what it is. And future climbers of it will not find their interest lessened because it has a history." In other words, the climber of the Matterhorn can add much to the enjoyment of the climb by knowing its history and using his imagination to see the mountain as Whymper, Mummery, and the other pioneers saw it.

It is equally true that one derives the fullest reward from a climb of Longs Peak only if he has the historical imagination to relive vicariously the climbs of Old Man Gun, Powell and Byers, Elkanah Lamb, Isabella Bird, Professor Alexander, Agnes Vaille, and the Stettner brothers. Surely much is lost when walking up today's domesticated Pikes Peak if one fails to see it mentally as Pike saw it - unconquerable; or as James saw it - unconquered. And if the Lizard Head still seems formidable to the climber of today, how much more can we appreciate its peril as well as the intrepidity of its first assailants if we try to see it through the eyes of Ellingwood and Hoag in 1920.

For those who take a historical perspective with them into the mountains, Colorado is an excellent place to be, for no other state has a longer or more bountiful history of mountaineering. The history of climbing not only in Colorado but in the West began with Zebulon Pike and Edwin James; the members of the government surveys of the nineteenth century climbed in many states, but nowhere were their activities more extensive or more thoroughly recorded than in Colorado; the history of exploration and climbing in the Elks, Sangre de Cristos, and San Juans is surpassed in length and interest by few other American ranges of comparable size; and probably only one other mountain in the West, the Grand Teton, has a history as colorful as that of Longs Peak.

In this long-awaited revised edition of what has become a mountaineering classic, mountaineer and historian William M. Bueler brings rich history to life with tales of great adventures in Colorado climbing. Combining solid research and entertaining prose, Roof of the Rockies tells the complete story of 200 years of mountaineering in the state, from early nineteenth century explorations and discoveries to the challenges and triumphs of the present. Fascinating accounts include: the discovery by Pike of his "Great Peak", the one-armed major who scaled "unclimbable" summits, the tragedy of Agnes Vaille, the conquering of the Diamond on Longs Peak and much more. This new edition has been completely revised and is beautifully illustrated with artist's drawings, informative maps, and dozens of vintage photographs.

Whether an active climber, or an arm-chair mountaineer, every fan of mountaineering literature will want to add this classic to their personal collection.

WILLIAM M. BUELERis a retired instructor of Chinese at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California He finished climbing the Colorado 14ers in 1952, which was only the beginning of a lifetime interest in climbing and writing about the state's mountains. His extensive travels in mountain regions around the world have taken him to five continents.

Book specs:
256 pages, 6" x 9", 15 b & w maps, 65 b & w photos, paperbound
ISBN 0-9671466-1-5



USD $10.58
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