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About David Roberts
David Roberts (born 1943) is a climber, mountaineer, and author of books and articles about climbing. He is particularly noted for his books The Mountain of My Fear and Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative, chronicling major ascents in Alaska in the 1960s, which had a major impact on the form of mountaineering literature. In thirteen seasons spent in the Alaskan wilderness, Roberts is well known for many first ascents, including the Wickersham Wall on Mount McKinley, the West rib of Mount Huntington, climbing in the Western Brooks Range and the Kichatna Spires, and on the East Face of Mount Dickey.
Roberts is the son of Walter Orr Roberts and mentor to Jon Krakauer.
David Roberts attended Harvard University, where he received a mathematics degree in 1965. He was a member of and former president of the Harvard Mountaineering Club. He also received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver in 1970.
From 1970 to 1979 Roberts was a professor of literature at Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, as well as designing the college's Outdoors Program.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Titles By David Roberts
"Gripping and superb. This book will steal the night from you." —Laurence Gonzales, author of Deep Survival
On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface.
Mawson was sometimes reduced to crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, "Which one are you?"
This thrilling and almost unbelievable account establishes Mawson in his rightful place as one of the greatest polar explorers and expedition leaders. It is illustrated by a trove of Frank Hurley’s famous Antarctic photographs, many never before published in the United States.
The riveting story of one of the greatest but least-known sagas in the history of exploration from David Roberts, the “dean of adventure writing.”
By 1930, no place in the world was less well explored than Greenland. The native Inuit had occupied the relatively accessible west coast for centuries. The east coast, however, was another story. In August 1930, Henry George Watkins (nicknamed “Gino”), a twenty-three-year-old British explorer, led thirteen scientists and explorers on an ambitious expedition to the east coast of Greenland and into its vast and forbidding interior to set up a permanent meteorological base on the icecap, 8,200 feet above sea level. The Ice Cap Station was to be the anchor of a transpolar route of air travel from Europe to North America.
The weather on the ice cap was appalling. Fierce storms. Temperatures plunging lower than –50° Fahrenheit in the winter. Watkins’s scheme called for rotating teams of two men each to monitor the station for two months at a time. No one had ever tried to winter over in that hostile landscape, let alone manage a weather station through twelve continuous months. Watkins was younger than anyone under his command. But he had several daring trips to the Arctic under his belt and no one doubted his judgement.
The first crisis came in the fall when a snowstorm stranded a resupply mission halfway to the top for many weeks. When they arrived at the ice cap, there were not enough provisions and fuel for another two-man shift, so the station would have to be abandoned. Then team member August Courtauld made an astonishing offer. To enable the mission to go forward, he would monitor the station solo through the winter. When a team went up in March to relieve Courtauld, after weeks of brutal effort to make the 130-mile journey, they could find no trace of him or the station. By the end of March, Courtauld’s situation was desperate. He was buried under an immovable load of frozen snow and was disastrously short on supplies. On April 21, four months after Courtauld began his solitary vigil, Gino Watkins set out inland with two companions to find and rescue him.
David Roberts, “veteran mountain climber and chronicler of adventures” (Washington Post), draws on firsthand accounts and archival materials to tell the story of this daring expedition and of the epic survival ordeal that ensued.
Including two new chapters on Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of the iconic 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan—to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear—completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport" (National Geographic) and "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever" (New York Times). Already one of the most famous adventure athletes in the world, Honnold has now been hailed as "the greatest climber of all time" (Vertical magazine).
Alone on the Wall recounts the most astonishing achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. Now Honnold tells, for the first time and in his own words, the story of his 3 hours and 56 minutes on the sheer face of El Cap, which Outside called "the moon landing of free soloing…a generation-defining climb. Bad ass and beyond words…one of the pinnacle sporting moments of all time."
Classmates and fellow members of the Harvard Mountaineering Club, Brad Washburn and Bob Bates were two talented young men -- handsome, intelligent, and filled with a zest for exploring. Both were ambitious climbers, part of a small group whose first ascents in the great mountain ranges during the 1930s and 1940s changed the face of American mountaineering. Setting their sights on summitting Lucania in the summer of 1937, Washburn and Bates put together a team of four climbers for the expedition. But when Bates and Washburn flew to the Walsh Glacier at the foot of Lucania, they discovered that freakish weather conditions had turned the ice to slush. Their pilot was barely able to take off again alone, and there was no question of returning with the other two climbers or more supplies. Washburn and Bates found themselves marooned on the glacier, more than a hundred miles from help, in forbidding and desolate territory. Eschewing a trek out to the nearest mining town -- eighty miles away by air -- they decided to press ahead with their expedition.
Escape from Lucania recounts Washburn and Bates's determined drive toward Lucania's 17,150-foot summit under constant threat of avalanches, blinding snowstorms, and hidden crevasses. Against awesome odds they became the first to set foot on Lucania's peak, not realizing that their greatest challenge still lay beyond. Nearly a month after being stranded on the glacier and with their supplies running dangerously low, they would have to navigate their way out through uncharted Yukon territory, racing against time as the summer warmth caused rivers to swell and flood to unfordable depths. But even as their situation grew more and more desperate, they refused to give up.
Escape from Lucania tells this amazing story in thrilling and vivid detail, from the climbers' exultation at reaching the summit to their darkest moments confronting seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It is a tale of awesome adventure and harrowing danger. But above all it is the story of two men of extraordinary spirit, inspiring comradeship, and great courage.
Today Washburn and Bates, now in their nineties, are legends in climbing circles. Bates co-led 1938 and 1953 expeditions to K2, the world's second-highest mountain. Washburn, whose record of Alaskan first ascents is unmatched, became founding director of Boston's Museum of Science and is one of the premier mountain photographers in the world. Some of his remarkable images from the 1937 Lucania expedition are included in this book.
“From the drama of the peaks, to the struggle of making a living as a professional climber, to the basic how-tos of life at 26,000 feet, No Shortcuts to the Top is fascinating reading.”—Aron Ralston, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place and subject of the film 127 Hours
For eighteen years Ed Viesturs pursued climbing’s holy grail: to stand atop the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. But No Shortcuts to the Top is as much about the man who would become the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest. As Viesturs recounts the stories of his most harrowing climbs, he reveals a man torn between the flat, safe world he and his loved ones share and the majestic and deadly places where only he can go.
A preternaturally cautious climber who once turned back 300 feet from the top of Everest but who would not shrink from a peak (Annapurna) known to claim the life of one climber for every two who reached its summit, Viesturs lives by an unyielding motto, “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” It is with this philosophy that he vividly describes fatal errors in judgment made by his fellow climbers as well as a few of his own close calls and gallant rescues. And, for the first time, he details his own pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.
In addition to the raw excitement of Viesturs’s odyssey, No Shortcuts to the Top is leavened with many funny moments revealing the camaraderie between climbers. It is more than the first full account of one of the staggering accomplishments of our time; it is a portrait of a brave and devoted family man and his beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.
A personal and historical exploration of the Bears Ears country and the fight to save a national monument.
The Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, created by President Obama in 2016 and eviscerated by the Trump administration in 2017, contains more archaeological sites than any other region in the United States. It’s also a spectacularly beautiful landscape, a mosaic of sandstone canyons and bold mesas and buttes. This wilderness, now threatened by oil and gas drilling, unrestricted grazing, and invasion by Jeep and ATV, is at the center of the greatest environmental battle in America since the damming of the Colorado River to create Lake Powell in the 1950s.
In The Bears Ears, acclaimed adventure writer David Roberts takes readers on a tour of his favorite place on earth as he unfolds the rich and contradictory human history of the 1.35 million acres of the Bears Ears domain. Weaving personal memoir with archival research, Roberts sings the praises of the outback he’s explored for the last twenty-five years.
In 1999, Conrad Anker found the body of George Mallory on Mount Everest, casting an entirely new light on the mystery of the lost explorer.
On 8 June 1924, George Leigh Mallory and Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine were last seen climbing towards the summit of Everest. The clouds closed around them and they were lost to history, leaving the world to wonder whether or not they actually reached the summit - some 29 years before Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay.
On 1 May 1999, Conrad Anker, one of the world's foremost mountaineers, made the momentous discovery - Mallory's body, lying frozen into the scree at 27,000 feet on Everest's north face. Recounting this day, the authors go on to assess the clues provided by the body, its position, and the possibility that Mallory had successfully climbed the Second Step, a 90-foot sheer cliff that is the single hardest obstacle on the north face.
A remarkable story of a charming and immensely able man, told by an equally talented modern climber.
In The Mountain, veteran world-class climber and bestselling author Ed Viesturs—the only American to have climbed all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks—trains his sights on Mount Everest in richly detailed accounts of expeditions that are by turns personal, harrowing, deadly, and inspiring.
The highest mountain on earth, Everest remains the ultimate goal for serious high-altitude climbers. Viesturs has gone on eleven expeditions to Everest, spending more than two years of his life on the mountain and reaching the summit seven times. No climber today is better poised to survey Everest’s various ascents—both personal and historic. Viesturs sheds light on the fate of Mallory and Irvine, whose 1924 disappearance just 800 feet from the summit remains one of mountaineering’s greatest mysteries, as well as the multiply tragic last days of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer in 1996, the stuff of which Into Thin Air was made.
Informed by the experience of one who has truly been there, The Mountain affords a rare glimpse into that place on earth where Heraclitus’s maxim—“Character is destiny”—is proved time and again.
“Easily one of [Roberts’s] best . . . thoughtful and passionate . . . a compelling portrait of the Ruess myth.”—Outside
Wandering alone with burros and pack horses through California and the Southwest for five years in the early 1930s, on voyages lasting as long as ten months, Ruess became friends with photographers Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange, swapped prints with Ansel Adams, took part in a Hopi ceremony, learned to speak Navajo, and was among the first "outsiders" to venture deeply into what was then (and to some extent still is) largely a little-known wilderness. When he vanished without a trace in November 1934, Ruess left behind thousands of pages of journals, letters, and poems, as well as more than a hundred watercolor paintings and blockprint engravings.
Everett Ruess is hailed as a paragon of solo exploration, while the mystery of his death remains one of the greatest riddles in the annals of American adventure. David Roberts began probing the life and death of Everett Ruess for National Geographic Adventure magazine in 1998. Finding Everett Ruess is the result of his personal journeys into the remote areas explored by Ruess, his interviews with oldtimers who encountered the young vagabond and with Ruess’s closest living relatives, and his deep immersion in Ruess’s writings and artwork. More than seventy-five years after his vanishing, Ruess stirs the kinds of passion and speculation accorded such legendary doomed American adventurers as Into the Wild’s Chris McCandless and Amelia Earhart.
Following the death of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, its second Prophet and new leader, Brigham Young, determined to move the faithful out of the Midwest, where they had been constantly persecuted by their neighbors, to found a new Zion in the wilderness. In 1846-47, the Mormons made their way west, generally following the Oregon Trail, arriving in July 1847 in what is today Utah, where they established Salt Lake City. Nine years later, fearing a federal invasion, Young and other Mormon leaders wrestled with the question of how to bring thousands of impoverished European converts, mostly British and Scandinavian, from the Old World to Zion. Young conceived of a plan in which the European Mormons would travel by ship to New York City and by train to Iowa City. From there, instead of crossing the plains by covered wagon, they would push and pull wooden handcarts all the way to Salt Lake.
But the handcart plan was badly flawed. The carts, made of green wood, constantly broke down; the baggage allowance of seventeen pounds per adult was far too small; and the food provisions were woefully inadequate, especially considering the demanding physical labor of pushing and pulling the handcarts 1,300 miles across plains and mountains. Five companies of handcart pioneers left Iowa for Zion that spring and summer, but the last two of them left late. As a consequence, some 900 Mormons in these two companies were caught in early snowstorms in Wyoming. When the church leadership in Salt Lake became aware of the dire circumstances of these pioneers, Younglaunched a heroic rescue effort. But for more than 200 of the immigrants, the rescue came too late.
The story of the Mormon handcart tragedy has never before been told in full despite its stunning human drama: At least five times as many people died in the Mormon tragedy as died in the more famous Donner Party disaster.
David Roberts has researched this story in Mormon archives and elsewhere, and has traveled along the route where the handcart pioneers came to grief. Based on his research, he concludes that the tragedy was entirely preventable. Brigham Young and others in the Mormon leadership failed to heed the abundant signs of impending catastrophe, including warnings from other Mormon elders in the East and Midwest, where the journey began. Devil's Gate is a powerful indictment of the Mormon leadership and a gripping story of survival and suffering that is superbly told by one of our finest writers of Western history.
In June 1950, a team of mountaineers was the first to conquer an 8,000-meter peak. Maurice Herzog, the leader of the expedition, became a national hero in France, and Annapurna, his account of the historic ascent, has long been regarded as the ultimate tale of courage and cooperation under the harshest of conditions.
In True Summit, David Roberts presents a fascinating revision of this classic tale. Using newly available documents and information gleaned from a rare interview with Herzog (the only climber on the team still living), Roberts shows that the expedition was torn by dissent.
As he re-creates the actual events, Roberts lays bare Herzog's self-serving determination and bestows long-delayed credit to the most accomplished and unsung heroes. These new revelations will inspire young adventurers and change forever the way we think about this victory in the mountains and the climbers who achieved it.