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599 The Mountaineering Handbook 2012-03-14

Tattered Mountaineering Handbook

Following a book suggestion six or seven years ago, I bought The Mountaineering Handbook. Amy and I have have either read or researched the book thoroughly through the years since. The Mountaineering Handbook is not just a technical climbing book - instead, it is a mountaineering book covering most backcountry subjects from nutrition and fitness to trail hiking and scrambling and on to technical climbing and rescue work.

The book is quick to set itself apart from other mountaineering books. The author takes delight in that the book teaches 'new school' ideas and debunks old habits still taught in the classic books. Reading the book I was amazed at how many skills I had been taught or learned from reading other books, that The Mountaineering Handbook now called 'old school'. Well, I am old, but really, who does this young young whippersnapper think he is?!

The author, Connally is an engineer and goes to great lengths to give scientific explanations for why things work and why they do not work. Covering an amazing number of topics, the book has many excellent chapters, but two of the best are the ones on nutrition and training.

After reading the chapters, my wife changed her eating habits for the long days we spend climbing and hiking in the mountains. Her new diet changed her performance. With nutrition as well as all the other topics in the book, there are choices to be made - old school versus new school options. Staying with the nutrition topic, the book suggests that the one of the only foods that is digestible while engaged in heavy aerobic exercise is gels followed by water. I carry a gel in my emergency kit; but I don't remember the last time I ate one. For optimal performance, the book gives excellent advice. But, if I have to eat gels all day to achieve that level of output, then I'd rather be slightly disadvantaged and still eat my peanut butter crackers!

The book gives sound advice throughout the wide range of topics. It makes you think, why I do things the way that I do and should I change.

Looking at our bookshelves one day, a friend asked why we had so many "how to" books on subjects that we had been doing all our lives? I told him that if I could glean just a couple of new ideas from each book it was worth the purchase and time spent reading the book. Well, The Mountaineering Handbook has hundred of new and different ideas, it is definitely worth the price of admission. If you have an inquisitive mind, the book belongs on your bookshelf too.

Happy 'new school' trails


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