Book Review: Climbing Fitz Roy, 1968: Reflections on the Third Ascent

Are you still looking for a last minute Christmas gift for the climber or outdoor adventurer on your list? Than let me recommend a fantastic book that I reviewed over at the Wenger Blog today. It is entitled Climbing Fitz Roy, 1968: Reflections on the Third Ascent. This high quality, fantastically bound tome includes more than 90 photos from a historic climb in Patagonia that took place 45 years ago, along with some insightful and thoughtful essays about the men who undertook that expedition. Men who would later go on to have a profound impact on the environmental and outdoor adventure community.

The team consisted of five guys who called themselves the “Funhogs.” Those men were skier Dick Dorworth, filmmaker Lito Tejada-Flores, and climbers Yvon Chouinard, Doug Tompkins and Chris Jones. If some of those names sound vaguely familiar, it isn’t just because they are legendary climbers who put up the now classic California Route out Fitz Roy, perhaps the most famous mountain in all of Patagonia. Tompkins would also go on to found a little company called The North Face, while Chouinard would start Patagonia, whose logo is modeled after Fitz Roy. These same men would also help found an environmental movement amongst outdoor enthusiasts and the industry, which persists even to this day.

Back in ’68, the men drove from Ventura, California all the way to Patagonia, a distance of 8000 miles. They were also forced to wait out the bad weather in an ice cave for 31 days, before they actually got a crack at the highly technical Fitz Roy, which is far more difficult than its 3359 meters (11, 020 ft) would typically imply. When they were done, they had completed an impressive new route but more importantly they came away from their adventure with a different outlook on the world.

The book shares their story through their own words, but it is the photos – once thought lost in a house fire – that really sell the story. The images are very impressive and do an excellent job of not only supporting the story but standing on their own to tell the tale as well.

Climbing historians will love this book, not just for the content, but for how high of a quality it is in general. It just feels great in your hands, although it doesn’t hurt that the amazing images jump off the page. With the holidays quickly approaching, I can promise you that Climbing Fitz Roy is sure to delight the outdoor adventurer in your life. Truly a wonderful gift.

Kraig Becker