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Book Review: Snow & Spire


Snow and Spire: Flights to Winter in the North Cascade Range 

by Chester Marler


John Scurlock’s just published 192-page photo essay is finely crafted and exciting to see.  And I must say, there is simply no substitute for holding and turning the pages of a genuine, non-electronic set of images in this large format, color edition.  Scurlock’s photos are often from early morning or early evening flights, so the lighting and imagery are striking.  His flights all began near his home in Concrete, but he flew eastward as far as Horseshoe Basin in the Pasayten Wilderness, so this is not a project focused only on the peaks of his neighboring western North Cascades.  His images of the Chelan-Sawtooth area tell me that John has a strong affinity for the eastern slope of the Cascades, especially his photos of Reynolds Peak, Oval and a fog-blanketed Lake Chelan seen from a hundred feet above the summit of Mt. McGregor.  Most of the interesting peaks from Buck Mountain northward are covered, including the Ptarmigan Traverse and the 9000-foot summits of the upper Stehekin Valley.   


Those ski tourers and winter climbers who have had the good fortune to stand atop any of the 8000-foot-plus peaks of the Cascades on a clear winter day, and looked in amazement at peak-after-peak covered in thick layers from months of snowfall, can appreciate the impact John’s aerial photos might have.  While not identical with being there, the vicarious experience this book provides will be fascinating, if not stimulating.


Well-written introductory chapters on the area’s geology and history set the stage for the remainder of the book, especially Lowell Skoog’s history of winter climbing and ski-mountaineering.          


Wolverine Press--$60.00