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Owner Review - Missing in the Minarets - Lyon

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  • richardglyon
    And another, on a not-so-new book. Html at http://tinyurl.com/3kq8fxe Edit away, Richard Missing in the Minarets by William Alsup Owner Review by Richard Lyon
    Message 1 of 4 , May 25, 2011
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      And another, on a not-so-new book. Html at http://tinyurl.com/3kq8fxe

      Edit away, Richard


      Missing in the Minarets by William Alsup
      Owner Review by Richard Lyon
      May 24, 2011

      PERSONAL DETAILS AND BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

      Male, 64 years old
      6' 4" (1.91 m), 205 lb (93 kg)
      Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
      Home: Dallas, Texas USA

      I've been backpacking for almost half a century, and regularly in the Rockies
      since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.
      I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 -
      4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from
      camp, but I do my share of forced marches too. Though always looking for ways
      to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a bit of
      extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.

      Full disclosure up front – the author is a good friend and occasional
      backpacking pal of this reviewer.

      DETAILS

      CoverTitle: Missing in the Minarets: The Search for Waller A. Starr, Jr.
      Author: William Alsup
      Published by: Yosemite Conservancy (formerly The Yosemite Association),
      www.yosemiteconservancy.org
      MSRP: $14.95 US for paperback [I purchased my copy immediately after its initial
      printing in 2001. This first edition was, I believe, hardback only.]

      Second edition, listed at 214 pages; first edition is 174 pages of narrative and
      40 pages of footnotes. Illustrated with many photographs taken by the story's
      participants, including Peter Starr, supplemented by several contemporary
      photographs taken by the author. [Note: Bill Alsup is an accomplished
      photographer who often includes his 4 x 5 camera equipment in a backpack he
      designed for that purpose. I recommend another of his books, Such a Landscape!,
      to any photographer or history buff. It's an annotation of the journal of
      William Brewer, first assistant on the 1864 California Geographical Survey, as
      he traveled through what is now known as King's Canyon. Bill's photographs
      alone are worth the price of this book, which though out of print is generally
      available on the secondary market.]

      THE STORY

      In August 1933 Walter A. Starr Jr., known as Peter, was thirty years old and
      recognized as one of the finest mountain climbers in the United States. In
      addition to his career as a lawyer and his climbing, he hoped to complete a
      project he'd been working at for several years: a guidebook for hikers on the
      newly opened John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park. Peter Starr set out on
      a solo backpack, scheduled to meet his father at a lodge ten days later. He
      failed to keep that rendezvous, and a week later failed to return as scheduled
      to his job at a San Francisco law firm.

      Peter's father, Walter Starr Sr., commenced a search for his son. The Starrs
      were socially prominent and well connected, and the president of the Sierra
      Club, a family friend, took the lead, telegraphing several other noted
      mountaineers to request their assistance. Peter's law firm arranged to borrow
      its largest client's private plane for the task, probably the first time
      aircraft was used in the Sierras for search and rescue. This book is a summary
      of Peter Starr's life as a climber and a detailed report on the search for him
      in the Minarets section of the High Sierra.

      REVIEW

      The first noteworthy aspect of this book is the detective work of the search
      party as they organized a hunt for Peter that August. Among the mountaineers
      called upon by Walter Starr Sr. were two young men, Glen Dawson and Jules
      Eichorn, who later became prominent climbers in their own right, and another,
      older climber who in 1933 was already a Sierra legend – Norman Clyde, a former
      schoolteacher who had roamed the mountains for decades. Indeed in August 1933
      one of the Minarets had already been named after him. From talking to others in
      the area the searchers were able to locate Peter's last camp, and other clues
      pointed to the Minarets, a natural destination for a climber. I won't spoil the
      suspense for prospective readers, but Clyde's instincts and on-site analysis,
      much of it undertaken after the official search had been called off, made this
      book enjoyable reading for me. Not every question about the circumstances of
      Peter Starr's death is answered in this book, and the author states that some
      have never been answered.

      Missing in the Minarets has further excellent detective work, that of its
      author, who consulted extensively the archived letters, contemporary diaries,
      and other original sources available, and had the good fortune to interview a
      few of the searchers still alive when this book was prepared and written,
      including Dawson (who contributed a brief Forward to the first edition) and
      Eichorn. A longtime backpacker in the Sierra, Alsup supplemented this with his
      own extensive knowledge and a study of the Minarets region. This isn't a long
      and detailed book, and (thankfully for me at least) it doesn't include a
      description of technical climbing techniques. But it's not short on essential
      facts, and it's an easy and compelling read. This reader came away with a
      feeling that he'd accompanied Clyde in the last days of his search.

      This book also paints an excellent portrait of the mountaineering community in
      the Bay Area in the 1930s – a community much different from today's backpackers.
      For one thing, in the 1930s the group was far smaller and accordingly more
      closely knit than the hordes who now enjoy the beauty of the Sierras at first
      hand. And more elite –after all, it was a fair drive from San Francisco to
      Starr's starting point, and a car was a luxury in those days. Few people had
      the means or the leisure time for even a few days in the back woods. Times were
      different too. Peter Starr planned a two-week vacation from his law practice
      for his last adventure; that's not common in our busy, Blackberry-studded world.
      This glimpse into another day and age of backpacking, much enhanced by the many
      photographs from the Starr family, was perhaps my favorite takeaway from the
      book. The Sierras, the Range of Light, remain beautiful today, but can you
      imagine hiking and camping there when visitors numbered in the hundreds rather
      than the millions?

      Bill Alsup's love of the mountains, the Sierras in particular, comes through
      brightly in this narrative. This was clearly a labor of love for him, though
      his prose style is matter-of-fact rather than florid. Here is one of the final
      passages in the book:

      "On our left, we [the author and his son] heard the cascade roaring from
      behind us and running down and down to Ediza, sparkling blue within an oval of
      green. The whole 1933 stage was spread about us. The Minarets raced upward on
      our right. Ritter loomed behind us. Volcanic Ridge and Minaret Pass imposed
      themselves a mile away, dead ahead. At timberline, we gazed over the sea of
      ancient mountain hemlocks. The afternoon light was pleasant. This camp was our
      reward for a tough cross-country hike via the ridge from Garnet Lake on a day
      that started farther north."

      That alone makes me lonely for the high country.

      One final note: Peter Starr's Guide To The John Muir Trail And The High Sierra
      Region, most recently updated in 2007, is still in print and still a popular
      guidebook for this wonderful hiking area.
    • Jamie D.
      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
      Message 2 of 4 , May 30, 2011
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        PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

        Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. If you are new to BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the community! The Editors will work with you, within their own time constraints, to get your first two Owner Reviews approved and upload in a timely manner. Do not worry if nothing happens with it for several days. All our Editors are volunteers and your report will be subject to an official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a response from an Edit Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this timeframe, please let me know directly at jdeben(at)hotmail.com

        To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
        yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved and uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews.

        Once your first two Owner Reviews have been approved and you have submitted your Tester Agreement you will be eligible to start applying for Tests. If you'd like more assistance or guidance with the process you can request a mentor by sending an email to Jenn K., the mentor coordinator, at mentor (at) backpackgeartest.org.

        You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group. These edits and comments, while not official, should be considered carefully, and if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your review. Incorporating member edits and re-submitting to the list
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        Additionally, it is important for you to monitor the Yahoo Groups list to keep track of the progress of your Owner Review. Once an Editor has taken your OR and made the necessary edits they will post their comments to the list with EDIT in the subject line. Once you have incorporated these edits into your review please use REPOST in the subject line. When your OR has been approved by the Editor they will use APPROVED in the subject line.

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        Edit Administration Manager
      • Michael
        Richard, I have to admit I felt like a minor league batter giving hitting advice to Babe Ruth while editing your review. Nice book review, I may add this one
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 2, 2011
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          Richard,

          I have to admit I felt like a minor league batter giving hitting advice to Babe Ruth while editing your review. Nice book review, I may add this one to my Fathers Day wish list.

          You know the drill. Once you have adjusted adequately, feel free to upload to the following folder.

          Reviews > Books > General

          Thanks for your contribution to BGT.

          Mike

          ______________________________

          >>[Note: Bill Alsup is an accomplished photographer who often includes his 4 x 5 camera equipment in a backpack he designed for that purpose. I recommend another of his books, Such a Landscape!, to any photographer or history buff. It's an annotation of the journal of William Brewer, first assistant on the 1864 California Geographical Survey, as he traveled through what is now known as King's Canyon. Bill's photographs
          alone are worth the price of this book, which though out of print is generally
          available on the secondary market.]

          Edit: Is this Note a quote from anything? If so, can we note who it is from? If not, I would like to get a ruling from a senior editor (such as you) on the recommendation of the other book. We all know the rules for recommendations, but is a book recommendation different from gear?


          >>Peter Starr set out on a solo backpack, scheduled to meet his father at a lodge ten days later.

          Edit: It seems to me that this sentence is missing a noun such as "Trip", "Expedition", "Adventure" etc… to be used with "backpack" as the adjective. But it is OK if you intentionally wrote the sentence to use "backpack" as the noun, I just haven't seen it structured that way.
        • richardglyon
          Ted - See below. Let me know what you think. This is the book you and I discussed by email some time ago. Cheers, Richard
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 3, 2011
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            Ted -

            See below. Let me know what you think. This is the book you and I discussed by email some time ago.

            Cheers, Richard

            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Michael" <mlebwill@...> wrote:
            >
            > Richard,
            >
            > I have to admit I felt like a minor league batter giving hitting advice to Babe Ruth while editing your review. Nice book review, I may add this one to my Fathers Day wish list.
            >
            > You know the drill. Once you have adjusted adequately, feel free to upload to the following folder.
            >
            > Reviews > Books > General
            >
            > Thanks for your contribution to BGT.
            >
            > Mike
            >
            > ______________________________
            >
            > >>[Note: Bill Alsup is an accomplished photographer who often includes his 4 x 5 camera equipment in a backpack he designed for that purpose. I recommend another of his books, Such a Landscape!, to any photographer or history buff. It's an annotation of the journal of William Brewer, first assistant on the 1864 California Geographical Survey, as he traveled through what is now known as King's Canyon. Bill's photographs
            > alone are worth the price of this book, which though out of print is generally
            > available on the secondary market.]
            >
            > Edit: Is this Note a quote from anything? If so, can we note who it is from? If not, I would like to get a ruling from a senior editor (such as you) on the recommendation of the other book. We all know the rules for recommendations, but is a book recommendation different from gear?
            >
            >
            > >>Peter Starr set out on a solo backpack, scheduled to meet his father at a lodge ten days later.
            >
            > Edit: It seems to me that this sentence is missing a noun such as "Trip", "Expedition", "Adventure" etc… to be used with "backpack" as the adjective. But it is OK if you intentionally wrote the sentence to use "backpack" as the noun, I just haven't seen it structured that way.
            >
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