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Climb! The 25th Anniversary Edition

 Climb! The 25th Anniversary Edition

by Sean Hudson

June 18, 2002

In 1977, climbing gurus Bob Godfrey and Dudley Chelton self-published Climb! Rock Climbing in Colorado. The first climbing book of its kind, Climb! detailed Colorado climbing history and suggested a new set of challenges for those fascinated by life on the edge. In addition, Greg Epperson's photography introduced wide-angle drama and on-rappel images. That first edition has long been out of print- but now, twenty-five years later, Chelton has teamed up with Jeff Achey, climber and former Climbing magazine photo editor, to inspire a new generation of climbers. Climb! The 25th Anniversary Edition takes readers through the evolution of Colorado climbing, from the turn of the century to the early 2000s. Published by The Mountaineers Books it is lavishly illustrated with 200 black and white digitally remastered photos and a sixteen-page color photo insert and includes a foreward by Michael Kennedy.

The new updated edition condenses the history in the first edition and adds twenty-five years of new adventures. The material from the late 1970s on, as well as several earlier sections, is all new. The first edition was accused of being Boulder centered. CLIMB! The 25th Anniversary Edition documents Boulder, the hotbed of climbing in Colorado, but also brings to life climbs from the Diamond, the South Platte, the Black Canyon, Shelf Road, Rifle and other West Slope areas. CLIMB! also chronicles the climbing history of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Aspen, Durango, and Telluride. Throughout, it is filled with heroes great and small, from Henry Barber, Jim Dunn, and Earl Wiggins to Christian Griffith, Mark Wilford, Derek Hersey, Colin Lantz, and Tommy Caldwell. From the first technical climbs to the improvised free climbs of the 60s and 70s, to the sport climbing of the 80s, to the extreme climbing of the 90s, the evolution of rock climbing is brought alive. Along the way, conflicts and competitions among climbers, the entry and accomplishments of women climbers, are documented.

For decades, Colorado has been a melting pot for rock climbers from across the country. The state boasts some of the most advanced rock climbs in the world, but difficult routes alone do not make for an interesting history. CLIMB! begins with stories of primitive times when climbers first ventured onto vertical rock, surmounting overhangs with now-comical equipment and technique, risking falls on ropes made from hemp. There are turn-of-the-century tales of steak fries once held at Chautauqua Park, when the more adventurous members of a local hiking group contemplated scaling the untrodden face of the Third Flatiron.

The more recent climbs are no less daring: the first ascent of Redgarden Wall, the Diamond, and the Painted Wall. Read about Steve Wunsch as he works up the precarious face of Jules Verne in Eldorado Canyon, risking a fifty-foot fall and climbing into legend. Across the state at about the same time, another first ascent: Jim Dunn on an overhanging off-width he has no gear to fit, two days up a wall in the Black Canyon, out of water, out of options, and desperate for the top.

As modern times approach, CLIMB! reveals rock climbing in Colorado evolving into a more complicated game. Lynn Hill emerges from behind the shadow of companion John Long to complete the first free ascent of Telluride's hardest crack and launches a high profile career. The Boulder climbing community splits into opposing camps during the great Bolt War. Sport climbing emerges, with its own breed of drama. Colin Lance races down to Shelf Road before the French A-Team arrives to steal his prize project. Matt Sarnet pries off huge blocks form the overhanging cliffs of what was once called Box Canyon, as rock music blares from the boom box below.

CLIMB! The 25th Anniversary Edition celebrates "events perpetrated by devotees and fanatics who forged the cutting edge of the times." says Jeff Achey. It will inspire a whole new generation of climbers.

About the Authors

Bob Godfrey, a longtime Boulder resident, was an accomplished climber, writer, and filmmaker. He was coauthor (with Dudley Chelton) of the first edition of CLIMB!, and the motivating force behind Beyond the Vertical, the autobiography of Layton Kor. His films include The Left Wall, documenting a climb in North Wales; Outward Bound: Schools of the Possible, about the Outward Bound schools; Sherpa, a study of changing culture in Nepal; and Free Climb, which chronicled Jim Erickson and Art Higbee's attempt to free climb the Northwest Face of the Half Dome in 1976.

Coauthor (with Bob Godfrey) of both the first and 25th anniversary editions of CLIMB!, Dudley Chelton has been a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University in Corvallis since 1983. Prior to 1983, while enrolled at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, he climbed extensively in Southen California and Baja and during that time discovered the spiritual benefits of dawn-patrol surfing sessions before work. Today, sailboarding in the Columbia River Gorge has partially filled the void left by a fifteen-year hiatus from climbing.

Jeff Achey has been a Colorado resident since 1976. While living in Boulder and attending the University of Colorado, he had a hand in a few classic free ascents in Eldorado. After four years of teaching at the alternative Colorado Rocky Mountain School, located in Carbondale, he spent eight years as a photo editor and contributing writer for Climbing magazine. An active climber, he works today as a writer, photographer, freelance editor, and sometime painter and blacksmith. He lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

For more information, visit the Mountaineers Books website.

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