When great climbers meet a great mountain, you can be sure a great story is not far behind. Climbing Fitz Roy 1968 is an instant classic, a remarkable account of the first ascent of the California Route and only the third ascent of the mountain, penned by the original expedition members collectively known as the Funhogs: Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia founder), Dick Dorworth (author and record-setting ski racer), Chris Jones (climber and author), Lito Tejada-Flores (filmmaker and author) and Doug Tompkins (The North Face founder).
As much photo-essay as journalism, the book is a tribute to the passion – yes, passion: they drove 8,000 miles from California to Patagonia – of some of the most interesting people you could wish to meet, and a milestone in mountaineering history. The photographs in the book were once thought lost to time, and one can easily imagine the authors' reaction to their rediscovery: put these things on paper!
There are two forwards followed by five short chapters with plenty of eye candy for the chair-bound climbers among us. One of the chapters is a photocopy of the 1969 American Alpine Journal account of the climb, with the accompanying pics. My favorite chapter was the one by Tejada-Flores, titled "The Way it Wasn't: Inventing Memories at Twenty-Four Frames per Second," which begins: "You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves. The Fitz Roy I remember isn't really the Fitz Roy we climbed – but it'll do."
With words like that and pictures to match, Climbing Fitz Roy 1968 is sure to bring the glassy-eyed stare of longing to those who have been somewhere like there and done something like that. A beautiful coffee-table quality book, you can't go wrong with this one.