Steve "Crusher" Bartlett came by the other day to show me the layout of a super-cool new book he's doing on the desert towers of the Colorado Plateau. It's a collection of Crusher's research and personal anecdotes, plus other people's stories. (He's reproducing my 1997 story from Rock & Ice about tower routes in Utah's Monument Basin; that's me belaying Dave Goldstein on the cover, during a hammerless ascent of the Shark's Fin's wicked-steep northeast arête.) The coolest thing about Crusher's book, which he expects to have out in early 2010 (Sharp End Books), is the wealth of historical photos he's managed to dig up. I found a few old familiar shots of Layton Kor and the like, but I'd never seen dozens and dozens of the other images in the coffee-table book.
The digging Crusher has done is a huge service to fans of climbing history, and it makes me wonder what other great photos from important American climbing areas are languishing in elderly climbers' closets, the Kodachrome slides slowly fading. Hopefully, other climber-authors will be as inspired as Crusher has been to root out these gems before they're lost forever.
A couple of other interesting books in the works: Stewart Green and Cameron Burns are both working on Layton Kor books (a scrapbook of Kor stories and a biography—amazing there hasn't been one yet), and Joe Josephson is writing a book about Todd Skinner.
The Stone Masters: California Rock Climbers in the Seventies, with photos by Dean Fidelman and text by John Long, will be available any day. Should be very good, and very popular, though I confess I'm just about over the whole Yosemite in the ’70s thing.
Finally, three esteemed Canadian authors and photographers, Chris Atkinson, Kevin McLane, and Marc Piché, are teaming up on the Alpine Canada Book Project, which will produce two books: a selected-climbs guidebook and a coffee-table book, both about Canada's finest mountain routes. Due out in 2010. Interestingly, the books are being copublished by Elaho Press and Arc'teryx, the gear and clothing maker, just as Patagonia Inc. recently published Steve House's memoir. Have we come to the point where enlisting a big corporate backer is the only way to get important climbing books published?