This Is Montana: A review by Rick and Susie Graetz

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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This Is Montana: A review by Rick and Susie Graetz

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This review was distributed widely to newspapers throughout Montana during the first week of October 2004.


A BOOK WORTH OWNING by Rick & Susie Graetz

Whether you are a mountain climber, a wilderness traveler or just enjoy reading about the mountains of the Northern Rockies, SELECT PEAKS OF GREATER YELLOWSTONE – a mountaineering history and guide by Thomas Turiano is for you. It will provide you with many a winter night of enjoyable reading. We seldom dedicate a column to the review of a book; rather, any discussion or recommendation of a title has come as part of our writings on places.

In its 515 pages, 13 core mountain ranges of the Greater Yellowstone country, including the Madison, Beartooth, Gallatin, Teton and Wind River ranges are superbly featured. It is incredible how much information this man has put together – it took him seven years.

This project is a thorough geography, geology and history book of one of the most beautiful regions of the United States and there is much about hiking and skiing as well as mountaineering. The history section alone covers 78 pages and includes fascinating pieces on some of the most valuable players in the past of this region such as … Capitan Bonneville, Jim Bridger, and Osborne Russell - a legend of the backcountry trails of greater Yellowstone, having roamed them from 1834-1842, well before civilization ever heard of this fabled topography; and the author includes excerpts from Osborne’s The Journal of a Trapper.

Each mountain range is discussed in detail before launching into the individual peaks. In all, 107 summits are discussed. Almost all of the heights the author outlines are accessible to anyone who can put one foot in front of the other and is in reasonable physical condition (Turiano has climbed most of them). He probes into the history, descriptions of the routes as well as a complete exploration of the landscape.

Here is an example of some of the copy for a typical mountaintop; this one is 11,214-foot Echo Peak in the Madison Range. “It is easy to imagine how the peak and the beautiful lake to the northwest earned the name ‘Echo.’ Squaw Creek heads in the Box Canyon, one wall of which is the mile-wide concave northwest face of Echo Peak. Revelers at Echo Lake probably heard shouts bounce off the impressive escarpment above. Like the limbs of a starfish, four spectacular ridges radiate from Echo Peak. The west, south, and east ridges are more rugged and less accessible than the smooth and gradual north ridge, which is a delightful hike from a camp in Hilgard Basin.” Then, as with the other peaks in the book, the necessary maps are listed and the ascent routes are specified.

The hundreds of quotes from individuals who have spent time in these mountains add personality and interest to the text. One, from our friend Rick Reese, a longtime skilled mountaineer who scaled the peaks of the Madison Range in the 70s, describes his August 2001 return to climb the challenging west face of 11,316-foot Hilgard’s north peak, the highest
summit in Montana outside of the Beartooth. “It is becoming apparent that we are nearing the outer limits age-wise for such foolishness, but this was one of our most enjoyable mountaineering episodes … I suppose youth helps in overcoming such obstacles, but it has been so long since I was a youth, I can’t remember!”

Ferdinand Hayden has his say in the book… in 1872 he predicted this about the mountain range east of the upper Yellowstone River: “There is in this Yellowstone Range an unlimited feel for the artist; photographic views of the most startling kind could be obtained without number. I am convinced that this range of mountains and the valley at its base, will at no distant period be visited by multitudes of tourist, and afford many a subject for correspondence for the secular press.”

Fascinating accounts of the Hayden survey of 1871 that lead to the creation of Yellowstone National Park and the 1870 Washburn expedition are well accounted for in the historical pages.

Photographs are plentiful … 390 in all, including many historical images and an abundance of well-illustrated maps. It is available in bookstores or through a website The book is published by Indomitus Books out of Jackson, Wyoming and well worth the $44.95 price. This would make a great holiday gift.

Rick & Susie Graetz are from Helena and are authors, photographers and publishers. Rick.

The founder of Montana Magazine teaches the Montana course at The University of Montana in Missoula. Their latest book is This Is Montana. Their email is [email protected].
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