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Edwin Joe
Rites of Passage
E.C. Joe, author

Adult; Other Nonfiction; (Market)

Rock climbing throughout the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California has been going about quietly for well over a century. The exploits of its pioneers into this beautiful mountain range have been infrequently documented in a few books, alpine journals, and magazines. The tales of these climbers in this area remain elusive in comparison to more mainstream places like Yosemite. Rites of Passage is a collection of those experiences written by a few aficionados of the Southern Sierra who have graciously shared their adventures for this book. Come join the campfire, kick back and indulge in the legacy of exploration, discovery, and adventure. - E.C. Joe
Adventurers will value this collection of tales and photographs from climbers who have ventured out into the wilderness of the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. E.C. Joe has compiled stories from men and women who pioneered the sport—from first ascents to training others to follow their footsteps. At times poetic and at times hilarious, these immersive reminiscences stir a sense of what it feels like to be one of the first climbers in the Southern Sierra, climbing untouched rock. Joe closes with a series of touching memories of climbers who have died and an interview with Richard Leversee, a giant in the field, celebrating their glory days.

Throughout Rites of Passage, Joe brings together hard-earned wisdom and stories that legitimately will “inspire future generations to explore their limits” (as Vitaliy Musiyenko puts it in the forward). Some of the tales shared are of people doing truly bold, risky things (such as, memorably, in the “Gorge of Despair”), but the contributors also always stress the need for climbers to be careful. The photos, illustrations, and sketchy topos (guides to climbing routes) help the reader feel the reality of these stories. Joe also helpfully includes bios of all the contributors, as well as endnotes and photo credits which would help the dedicated reader chase down more information about the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

Rites of Passage is full of detailed and technical accounts—such as of mastering complex walls and difficult crack systems with only sketchy descriptions to work from. That is the spirit of the Sierra Nevada which Joe hopes to pass on to a future generation: enabling future generations to “climb as if the route was being done for the first time,” as one contributor puts it, and truly experience the wilderness. For those who love the outdoors, particularly members of the “small spiritual tribe” of climbers, this is a beautiful and inspiring collection of stories, reminiscences and wisdom about the southern Sierra Nevada—and what it takes to thrive there.

Takeaway: Gorgeous, inspiring stories and photos of climbing the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Comparable Titles: Clarence King’s Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, Lauren DeLaunay Miller’s Valley of Giants.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A