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The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainierby Bruce Barcott
Synopses & Reviews
In The Measure of a Mountain, Seattle writer Bruce Barcott sets out to know Rainier. His method is exploratory, meandering, personal. He begins by encircling it, first by car then on foot. He finds that the mountain is a complex of moss-bearded hemlocks and old-growth firs, high meadows that blossom according to a precise natural timeclock, sheets of crumbling pumice, fractured glaciers, and unsteady magma. Its snow fields bristle with bug life, and its marmots chew rocks to keep their teeth from overgrowing. Rainier rumbles with seismic twitches and jerks—some one-hundred-thirty earthquakes annually. The nightmare among geologists is the unstoppable wall of mud that will come rolling down its slopes when a hunk of mountain falls off, as it does every half century (and were fifty years overdue). Rainier is both an obsession and a temple that attracts its own passionate acolytes: scientists, priests, rangers, and mountain guides. Rainier is also a monument to death: every year someone manages just to disappear on its flanks; imperiled climbers and their rescuers perish on glaciers; a planeload of Marines remains lodged in ice since they crashed into the mountain in 1946. Referred to by locals as simply "the mountain," it is the single largest feature of the Pacific Northwest landscape—provided it isnt hidden in clouds. Visible or not, though, its presence is undeniable.
Mount Rainier is the largest and most dangerous volcano in the country. Looming massively above the rugged Cascade Range in Washington State, it is visited by millions, climbed by thousands, and romanticized as the most potent icon of the region. Yet it is a mountain that few truly know.
InThe Measure of a Mountain,Seattle writer Bruce Barcott sets out to know Rainier. His method is exploratory, meandering, personal. In a masterful work of narrative journalism, Barcott adroitly explores not only the natural place of Rainier, but also the psychology and meaning of all mountains.
Mount Rainier is the largest and most dangerous volcano in the country, both an awesome natural monument and a formidable presence of peril. In The Measure of a Mountain, Barcott sets out to grasp the spirit of Rainier through a journey along its massive flanks. From forest to precipice, thinning air to fractured glaciers, he explores not only the physique of Rainier but the psychology and meaning of all mountains, and the deep connection that exists between humans and landscape.
Filled with adventure, poignant personal reflections, and fascinating mountain lore told by Indian chiefs, professional guides, priests, and scientists, this book is one man's stirring quest to reconcile with a dazzling creation of nature, at once alluring and sometimes deadly.
Intrigued by the defining pillar of his native landscape, writer Bruce Barcott set out to grasp the spirit of Mount Rainier, the largest and most dangerous volcano in the country, through a death-defying journey along its massive flanks.
About the Author
Bruce Barcott contributes major articles on environmental and adventure topics to Outside magazine. He is a former staff writer at the Seattle Weekly and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, Mens Journal, Harpers, and Slate, among other publ
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History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Nature