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NO SWEAT

A chronicle of slips and falls, big time

Accidents in North American Mountaineering, 2003 American Alpine Club; $10, paper

September 09, 2003|Joe Robinson

An advance review on this book was delivered by the Weather Girls in 1983: It most definitely is raining men (the occasional woman too). They're pouring down slopes like a human squall in this chronicle of gravity gone wild, sailing into crevasses, free-falling off rock faces and tobogganing down ice fields without toboggans.

And that's not all that's coming down in the latest edition of the American Alpine Club's blotter of climbing accident reports across North America. If climbers aren't falling or slipping on rocks -- the No. 1 cause of mountaineering accidents -- they're being beaned and battered by them. One guy escapes death when a slab of ledge on Cathedral Rock in Yosemite breaks off and crushes his shoulder. Others aren't so lucky, including the solo rock climber found dangling dead from his rope 30 feet from the bottom of El Capitan. The thrills and spills are riveting, but it's the analysis offered with each report -- "climbing alone," "descending unroped" and, especially, "exceeding abilities" -- that should be required reading for all climbers who prefer flying with a tray table.

-- Joe Robinson

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