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On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peakby Jon Bell
Some 50 miles southeast of Portland lies the highest peak in the state of Oregon: Mount Hood, a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano. The fourth tallest in the Cascade range (around 11,240 feet high), Mount Hood is currently rated fourth by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in terms of "size and potential damage of an eruption." There is, of course, far more to Hood than its latent explosive power, as Jon Bell's intriguing book On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak makes abundantly clear.
Light on the science and heavy on the personal anecdote, Bell's often charming book explores nearly every facet the mountain has to offer. On Mount Hood's brief chapters cover everything from the peak's geological history, its glaciers, and its pronounced effects on local weather to the history of its early summits, the storied Timberline Lodge, and details about its many climbing fatalities (nearly 140 since records have been kept). Bell also dispels some of the long-held myths regarding Mount Hood, most notably that Portland's drinking water is fed by the mountain's glacial runoff (in fact, none of the city's drinking water originates on the mountain — nearly all of it comes from the nearby Bull Run watershed).
Jon Bell's affection for the mountain is evident, and his enthusiasm for its wonder and beauty is easily shared. On Mount Hood is a great general-interest book on one of Oregon's most recognizable (and influential) landmarks. From its foothills to the timberline to its snow-capped summit, Bell provides an interesting firsthand glimpse of Hood's many striking characteristics.
Whether hiking or climbing or skiing or camping on it, gazing longingly at it from an office window, sipping a pale ale with its countenance on the label, enduring the rain it wrings from the air, following a story about climbers lost on it or massive trees about to be cut on it, Hood has a story that inevitably becomes a part of your own. The mountain's presence is undeniable and iconic, always there, whether you can see it or not. It is a paragon of alpine beauty, but also in its entirety much more than that. Mount Hood is sunshine and storms, forests and fauna; it is snow, ice, and water; it is history and tragedy, mystery and glory.
Recommended by Jeremy, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
On Mount Hood is a contemporary, first-person narrative biography of Oregon's greatest mountain, featuring stories full of adventure and tragedy, history and geology, people and places, trivia and lore. The mountain itself helps create the notorious Oregon rains and deep alpine snows, and paved the way for snowboarding in the mid 1980s. Its forests provide some of the purest drinking water in the world, and its snowy peak captures the attention of the nation almost every time it wreaks fatal havoc on climbers seeking the summit. On Mount Hood builds a compelling story of a legendary mountain and its impact on the people who live in its shadow, and includes interviews with a forest activist, a volcanologist, and a para-rescue jumper.
"[An] evocative exploration of the Mount Fuji of America. Open the book and climb." Bruce Barcott, author of The Measure of a Mountain
"It took more than a decade, but Mount Hood now has a book to rival Mount Rainier's." The Oregonian
"[On Mount Hood] offers a satisfying mix of interviews and facts about one of the state’s most recognizable features. Jon takes the reader along on his quest to learn more about the iconic mountain that dominates the Portland metro-area landscape. His authorial voice — as he asks questions, delves into history and demystifies geological phenomena — is professional and personal. Well-muscled sentences push the reader to consider the peak’s past, present and future and how its presence has affected us as human beings. On Mount Hood is a relevant read for anyone who has ever climbed Mount Hood, skied there, gasped at its immensity from the plane window, noted 'The mountain’s out today,' or tasted tap water in the Portland metro area." Brave on the Page
"This first-person narrative biography of Oregon's legendary Mount Hood blends tales of adventure and adversity with history, geology and trivia. Bell interviews several people familiar with the mountain — including a forest activist, a volcanologist and a pararescue jumper — to help tell the story of this iconic Northwest peak." Alaska Airlines Magazine
"[On Mount Hood] features Mt. Hood stories full of adventure and tragedy, history and geology, people and places, trivia and lore. Bell combines some first-person narrative with interviews that depict the stories of countless climbers, scientists, historians and characters." Portland Tribune
"On Mount Hood tells the story of Mount Hood in a way that’s surprisingly never been done before, and through anything and everything related to the mountain: news, conditions, trails, campsites, wines, accidents, triumphs, stories, connections, and much, much more." Oregon Lakes & Rivers
About the Author
An outdoor enthusiast and wordsmith, Jon Bell has written for Backpacker, The Oregonian, The Rowing News, Oregon Coast, and many other publications. He lives in Lake Oswego, OR.
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