Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: Rockin' on the Rock: A Guide to Mt. Erie Climbing

In 2010, Dallas Kloke, a mountaineer with fifty-years of climbing under his belt, was killed tragically in a climbing accident. Kloke was a renowned first ascentionist and the author of several guidebooks. His home crag was the iconic Mount Erie, situated above the city of Anacortes, Washington.

I met Dallas several times over the years, but I didn't really get to know him until near the end of his life. I served on the Mount Erie Climbing Committee with him for about a year-and-a-half before he passed away. In that time I knew that I had found a kindred spirit in a man who loved exploring the mountains. Tragically, I never had the opportunity to climb with him.

Dallas was responsible for dozens -- if not hundreds -- of routes at Mt. Erie and he wrote one of the most popular guides to the crag, Rockin' on the Rock.  And though Dallas was an amazing man -- a middle school teacher, a track coach, and a climber -- his guidebooks always felt like they needed a little bit more work before they went to print. They were often a bit confusing. For example, in his winter mountaineering book he placed the routes in alphabetical order instead of in a geographical order. It was for this reason, that I was happy to hear that his Mount Erie book would see a second, postmortem edition.

After Dallas' death, two local climbers -- Jim Thompson and Aaron Bryant -- got permission from Dallas' family to develop a new edition of his Mount Erie guide.  The pair tirelessly worked to update the text and to make sure that it all made sense. The result is a beautiful book. A full color text stuffed with approach beta and chocked full of Mount Erie's finest climbs. The text is like having a local companion who knows every nook and every cranny of every crag....which was what it was like walking around the mountain with Dallas. I think he would be really proud of how this book turned out.

There are many ways that people have paid tribute to climbers that have passed on. Some get plaques, others get peaks, features or routes named after them, and yet others find their ashes left on a mountain. However, in some ways this was the best tribute that these two individuals could have made to both Dallas and to the Mt. Erie climbing community. Dallas was a climber and a guidebook author and Mt. Erie was his home.

I can't imagine him wanting anything more than a tribute like this...

--Jason D. Martin

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very thoughtful review! You can get a copy of the guidebook at the AAI Gear Shop, Lake Erie Grocery at the base of Mt. Erie or online at