Heyday Institute takes you to California’s peak
March 20, 2009
LAKE TAHOE ” There is a special book I would like to highlight and recommend to you: Heyday Institute, a nonprofit educational company that works to deepen people’s understanding and appreciation of the cultural, artistic, historical and natural resources of California and the American West, in partnership with the Yosemite Association, has just released the second book in its collaboration, “Above All: Mount Whitney and California’s Highest Peaks.” Much like the first (“Luminous Mountains: The Sierra Nevada of California” by Tim Parker), it is stunning and enlightening. It brings us directly in contact with California’s ” 14er mountains that rise over 14,000 feet and whose topography is both treacherous and majestic.
The book’s “forward” is by Kenneth Brower, himself a climber whose father, David Brower, first executive director of the Sierra Club (and later founder of Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and Earth Island Institute), introduced him to mountaineering. Divided into four sections ” the Whitney region, White Mountain Peak, the Palisades and Shasta ” the book graciously educates and prepares us for the photographic adventure that follows it. The text, by well-known historian and climber Steve Roper, introduces each section and includes anecdotes, history, climbing stories and facts tastefully woven in such a fashion that you could swear he was right there in the room speaking directly to you.
He also has included at the end of each section “Sources and Further Reading,” which he describes for those who wish to know more details. As he states in the Introduction, “This is not a book about the peaks’ geology or natural history. Nor is it a guidebook. It’s a book of unique photos and a potpourri of interesting information.”
The 60 full-color photographs, which photographer David Stark Wilson shot at sunrise or sunset, run across the double pages and are mesmerizing. An avid mountaineer, Stark grew up in Berkeley and began climbing with his family as a youngster, becoming a regular with Galen Rowell while in his teens. He began photographing mountain landscapes at a young age.
Although he went on to become an award-winning building designer by trade, he has always maintained his love for photography and mountains. In describing his preparation for the photographs taken for “Above All,” Wilson notes, “For me, the best images conveyed the ethereal and mystical quality at the very edges of the day. … In a landscape largely unchanged since the early adventures as Muir, Brewer and King, it is the emotional response to the high country that is timeless for the mountain travelers.”
For most of us, we only have the opportunity to look up at these colossal definitions of our landscape, but thanks to what David Wilson captured and Heyday Books published, we can now look out across them and drink in their range of light and beauty on every page.
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Barbara Perlman-Whymanis a book reviewer for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.