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767 Mountaineering
in the
Rocky Mountain
National Park

Mountaineering in the Rocky Mountain National Park viewed on an iPad with the Kindle edition

One of the websites that we regularly read is 14ers.com. On the Forum a short time ago, someone mentioned a free book, 'Mountaineering in the Rocky Mountain National Park' available through the Park Service web site.

We checked it out immediately. Going to the National Park site, we found a History tab. Under the tab was a wealth of free information on the National Park System. Scrolling to the 'R' index list, we located the Park and the Mountaineering book. (We actually bought the book through Amazon to read on a Kindle reader for 1.49. We didn't want to have to be online to read the riveting pages! Amazon also had the book available in paperback.)

The book was compiled by Roger Toll, who later became the Park Superintendent in 1921. Toll was an active mountaineer who seemed to have a genuine love for the mountains.

The book includes a brief history of the Park, a justification of mountaineering as recreation, a description of the Park's facilities, directions on how to reach the Park, gear, route finding suggestions, weather, approaches, and trip reports to the Park's peaks.

The book was first printed in 1919 and times were different. The Model T Ford was first produced in 1908. Traveling anywhere in America was difficult. It was fun to read of traveling by train and automobile stages to get to the Park. Ah, those were the good o' days - when just getting to the Park was often times quite an adventure.

Once at Estes Park many adventurers used horses to approach their destinations. The road to Bear Lake was not yet constructed and Fall River Road was under construction. To shorten the approach hikes, the mountaineers used horses.

The Park's were still defining their purpose. Throughout the Park were cabins, shelters, and even hotels. Camping was not common. The below quote was from the Camping Outfit section:

'To some, camping out seems a hardship not to be undertaken if it can be avoided. To others, however, a night out under the stars, far from human habitation, has a charm and a thrill that make it well worthwhile for the pleasure of the camp alone, if for no other reason. Very many persons to whom camping does not seem attractive become, after an experience or two, ardent campers-out.' (Sorry, I could not figure out exactly how to footnote an electronic edition ... my Kindle reader said Loc 302 of 2443)

Though some information is fun to read for the historical aspects, other bits of wisdom mentioned are as true today as 100 years ago. For example, Toll advised to carry a pack while climbing with the essentials, but warned against climbing with a pack weighing more than ten pounds. Light has always been right!

The trip reports comprised the bulk of the book. Most of the peaks in the Park had been climbed and routes established by 1919. It was interesting that many of the routes and experiences were different in 1919, but many more are the same as today.

Near the book's end was a list of the

The High Peaks of Colorado [A list gathered from the latest available authorities, of the named mountain summits in the State exceeding 14,000 feet in altitude.]

The list included 42 peaks instead of the currently accepted 53 peaks. It was easy to see that the old list had 11 fewer peaks than the current list, but some of the old peaks which comprised the list of 42, did not even make the list of 53!

Check out the NPS site, after all it is free.

Happy Rocky Mountain Mountaineering trails


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