Jackson Hole News & Guide review

Reviews and comments for Jackson Hole Backcountry Skier's Guide, Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone, Teton Skiing, Jackson Hole Ski Guide, and Teton Pass Backcountry Guide

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Jackson Hole News & Guide review

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This review by Michael Pearlman appeared in the 12/17/03 issue of the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

In the Introduction to his recently completed book, when Tom Turiano writes "Greater Yellowstone's powerful energy is available for all who are willing to receive it," he isn't merely speculating. Turiano has been absorbing the energy of the Tetons and surrounding mountain ranges practically from the moment he arrived in the valley in 1985. The culmination of seven years of meticulous research and mountaineering excursions deep into the wilderness of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone is a treasure.

Turiano, an accomplished mountain guide and ski mountaineer, successfully fuses a scholarly historical record and practical guide to 107 prominent peaks into a single, 512-page volume. In doing so, he has produced a work of immense scope that makes for fascinating reading even for those not interested in peak ascents.

The first thing that immediately sets the book apart from other guidebooks is the breadth of its history chapter. Turiano's interest in the mountaineering history of the region has led him to compile detailed accounts of early mountain exploration and logically assemble information from multiple sources. Beginning with the earliest human visitors to the region, Turiano comprehensively covers the vertical explorations of fur trappers, mountain men and surveying parties during the 19th century. He tackles the controversy over which party was the first to reach the summit of the Grand Teton and closes the chapter with a nod to Orrin and Lorraine Bonney, whose research Turiano used extensively.

For the mountaineer looking to broaden his or her explorations into areas rarely traveled, Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone is a dream come true. In his introduction, Turiano explains that each of the peaks were selected "because they possess a majority of the following characteristics: a commanding view from the summit; prominence from at least three directions; high relative elevation; a degree of elegance; distinction from surrounding peaks or environs; and an interesting or unique human or natural history."

With this loose framework as a guide, the peaks included range from famous and easily accessible to unknown and difficult to access. By including in the guidebook peaks in 13 different mountain ranges the author exposes numerous diamonds in the rough which lie miles from a trailhead and require more effort to reach than many of the heavily trafficked peaks of the Tetons and the Winds. Turiano offers plenty of descriptive and lively details on each peak, and his enthusiasm for the effort required to reach some of the more remote peaks in the book isn't difficult to discern.

For each peak, Turiano includes aerial photographs, summer and winter approaches and detailed descriptions of ascent routes. Individual entries are quite thorough, discussing the quality of rock and relative difficulty of the ascent, as well as history and notable ascents. In addition to primary summer routes, ski mountaineers will find excellent descriptions of possible ski routes, as well as approach descriptions for both summer and winter. For those who aren't technically skilled climbers, it's important to note that most of the peaks included have at least one moderate route. Easily located and clearly printed at the end of each entry is each climb's total elevation gain, distance via summer trailhead, route grade, and estimated ascent time. Also listed are the appropriate U.S.G.S quadrangle maps for more detail on each climb. The sheer size of the book makes it impractical as a carry-along guide, so those wishing to refer to each entry while climbing would probably want to photocopy the appropriate pages.

Turiano's heartfelt love for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is most evident in the book's introduction. There he spells out what prompted him to write the book and how he balances his love of the wilderness experience with his desire to share with others areas that see little traffic. He is also clearly in favor of the human-powered wilderness experiences, expressing concern about the encroachment of civilization through motorized transport.

Throughout the book, Turiano's enthusiasm for exploration is laid bare for the reader to see. With each turn of the page, it's clear that Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone could only have been penned by a person engaged in a labor of love. The author's courageous decision to self-publish a work of such enormous scope makes the highly polished result even more effective. Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone is an essential addition to the library of any winter or summer mountaineer interested in visiting some of the most prominent mountains in the region.
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