Book Review: "No Limits But the Sky" Stories from Appalachia Journal

"No Limits But the Sky" published by Appalachian Mountain Club Books

"No Limits But the Sky" published by Appalachian Mountain Club Books

Our friends at the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) have published a new book, No Limits But the Sky -- The Best Mountaineering Stories from Appalachia Journal, edited by Christine Woodside. They kindly sent me a review copy to share my thoughts with you.

Before forming an opinion based on someone else's perspective, you must, I believe, consider the credentials of the source. In this case, I am not the kind of person whose stories will ever grace the pages of a book about adventurers who "push the limits of endurance, weather, altitude or personal achievement" climbing the world's most dangerous or fascinating mountains.

I have never read an issue of AMC's journal, Appalachia, published since 1876, nor am I wont to summit ice-covered slopes via the most dreadful paths. Alas, I am merely a writer and editor with a forum and abundant opinions.

That said, I find No Limits But the Sky to be a precious compilation of true tales of those who climbed "The Bietschhorn in a Thunderstorm" in 1937 and made the "Manless Ascent of Devils Tower" in 1952, for example.

No, this is not going to be in the backpack of the standard Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. It's not something anyone is going to say, "Hey, guys! Hold the Funyons and doobies for a second while I read this to you!" (I invite you to prove otherwise.)

I imagine the most likely readers of these exploits will fit this mold:

  • He or she will have uttered the word, "Checkmate!"
  • They will know how to pronunciate "Don Quixote."
  • They might be familiar with the name "Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra."
  • It's possible they will know the title of this book is derived from the "oft-quoted phrase" in the third chapter of Don Quixote.
  • They will be drawn to the chapter, "Trailing Dreams: Magic Along the Appalachian Trail," written by Elizabeth McGowan and published in 1993.

I cannot imagine this book being given the proper time and appreciation with Family Guy playing in the background. By my count there are 25 short stories (not to be confused with fiction) that will tear you away from your mundane, first-world troubles and immerse you into the lives and trials of those who fearlessly and/or foolishly climbed every sort of mountain ... in dresses and suit coats ... in natural conditions that were the stuff of nightmares.

In Christine Woodside's introduction she writes:

"All of these stories form around deeper revelations that erupt within the writer's mind usually after returning from the mountains. That's what this collection is all about: what adventure really does; what pushing yourself really means. And that you don't usually know what pushing yourself means until after you've tried."

Had No Limits But the Sky not been produced in individual and single servings -- 25 of them -- this treasure might have gone unread. As it is, there is no excuse not to read one or a dozen or more of the most accurate, life-threatening, uncommon, historic and historical accounts of those who hit the highest heights and made the greatest impacts among all mountaineers.

For what it's worth, I believe the time you might invest in No Limits But the Sky will not be wasted; whether it whets your appetite to ascend alluring mountains or makes you think, "These people are all crazy, but it's a good book."

Click Here for No Limits But the Sky from AMC


Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Appalachian Mountain Club, Entertainment, and Books

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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