HolidayWild wrote:...reading this book will forever alter your entire mountaineering career in Glacier.
To quote an email from a good buddy, "As for drawing a line up a mountain as if it were a trail to follow, I must say that this must alter, psychologically, how one approaches a mountain and moves up walking and climbing, steepness varying, constantly analyzing the terrain and planning a way up...
This is an interesting statement and one I tend to agree with to a certain extent. HolidayWild tries to get at a reason for climbing. Does one climb to discover the mountain or oneself? For entertainment? To conquer a peak? Reach a summit? Check off a line on a list?
For me climbing is an adventure and learning experience. I do keep a record of my ascents and always look for new adventures. But I prefer to find my way. I seek out information (beta as it's called these days) but I'm always looking for the best route. New climbers following a line might get the idea that the Red Line is THE way to go and no better exists. Starting out this way could lead to a climbing career based on the concept that each mountain has only one way to the top. Somewhere down the line, if a climber is going to progress and become a true mountaineer, he/she must learn to read the mountain like a puzzle and put the pieces of the route together to form a complete way to the summit. Will the Red Line method allow for that development?
I've always admired the thinking expressed by Pat Caffrey in Climber's Guide to Montana
(1986). He wrote,
"Much of the pleasure of climbing Montana's mountains is discovering your own route, feeling the excitement and spirit of a pioneer in high places..."
Caffrey's book, "...suggests ways you can attack the mountain of your choice without extensive reconnaissance, and will tell you if your level of climbing competence and skill are adequate." But, "You won't find dotted line diagrams or elaborate descriptions..."
One of my favorite routes in Caffrey's book for one of the prominent peaks on the Rocky Mountain Front west of Choteau, MT states simply, "Try the west side." That brief description provides enough information while minimizing the time that might be spent circumnavigating the summit looking for a route. And it provides the opportunity to explore and learn about the mountain and oneself.
J. Gordon Edwards in The Climbers Guide to Glacier
provides much more information on routes but still leaves ample room for exploration, discovery and adventure.
Glacier is a popular place. Most of the summits attainable as a day climb now have "cow tracks" on them. Even more remote peaks like the 10,000 footers have visible climber's trails. These are visible trails used by countless numbers of "climbers" to reach the summit. For many peaks then there is already a "line" to follow. Do these trails reduce the spirit of adventure and learning? I think they do. Learning to climb by following the line might preclude ever learning how to put the pieces of an intricate route puzzle together.
As one who has climbed in Glacier since 1974 I relish those days when the mountains had no trails to the summits. Climbing then was more of an adventure. The chance to discover new things was great. That "chance" is is still great and there is still opportunity for adventure but the climber must learn that a guide book is only a guide. It is not the one and only or best way to a summit.