By: Geof Childs
Published by: Mountaineers Books
Hardcover, 216 pages
Publication date: August 2000
Stone Palaces is a compilation of mostly climbing stories written
by Childs during the 70's , 80's and 90's. If you read Climbing,
Rock and Ice or any of the other climbing literature, you will
probably have read some of his stuff. There are plenty of climbing
stories in it- written in Childs' intelligent and imaginative prose.
There are stories of Himalayan struggles, solo mountaineering, chalk
bags and smearing.
One of his pieces is called Bird, and is an excellent
introduction to Jim Bridwell, a living legend who shaped
the face of climbing in Yosemite. The Bridwell story reads
like a who's who in American Climbing with over 30 climbers
talked about. It is a great read of the history of the climbers
who put together Yosemite's Golden Age.
This book isn't only about climbing though. It is eclectic in
nature, and often the stories will leave you laughing, or more
often than not, give you pause and make you think. The characters
in Child's stories are like many of the climbers out thereyou
only see them in one light, and your life is altered, just a tiny bit,
by having met them.
In this book I found a climber with a voice, willing to share stories,
tell tales, and relate his experiences with everyone, even those outside
of the climbing world. According to Childs, the best climbing stories are
those that are told out loud. If there were a close second, it would have
to be the voice inside your head telling you the stories from the pages of
a well-written book. The stories vary from humorous to intense, and, whether
you climb or not, they will leave you feeling like you have been to and
touched the heart of Stone Palaces.
Reviewed by Dave Loveland