Book Reviews

Day Hiking Central Cascades

Craig Romano, photography by Alan L. Bauer
The Mountaineers Books, 2009, 348 pages

Craig Romano is a guidebook writer whom I trust. I haven’t yet been disappointed with two other of his books, Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest and Day Hiking North Cascades.

I’m originally a west-side girl—that’s right, from “the coast,” as some peculiar Spokanites insist on calling it. Give me peaks and alpine lakes! Give me wildflowers and an ascent to burn my glut muscles until I beg for mercy! And Romano’s latest book gives me everything that my nature-girl soul desires, in the form of 125 detailed hikes, from Lake Chelan (and Stehekin), west along Highway 2 through Wenatchee and Leavenworth – including the Nason Creek and Wenatchee River Valleys, Lake Wenatchee, Entiat Mountains, Peshastin Creek and Blewett Pass – Stevens Pass, Skykomish River Valley, and west to Everett and hikes around Whidbey and Camano Islands as well as the Puget Lowlands.

I spent a recent Saturday afternoon lying on a blanket in my backyard, with my youngest husky sprawled next to me, planning my next 40 seasons of hikes and backpacking trips, highlighting the names of the first “to-do” trails in the Central Cascades.

“We will do all these hikes some day before we die,” I declared to my husband, who was sitting in the shade.

Thanks to Romano’s expert and meticulous advice, trip planning will not be difficult. Here’s what I love best about this guidebook: the “Hikes at a Glance” chart on pages 14-21 so I can quickly scan and compare round-trip distance, difficulty ratings, and which ones are “hikeable all year” and dog-friendly, and which ones offer old-growth, wildflowers, alpine views, and either nearby car camping or backpacking. (His interesting text-boxes of historical and outdoor education tidbits are also great.)

Moreover, Romano thinks like I do as a hiker—his subjective five star-rating means “unmatched hiking adventure, great scenic beauty, and wonderful trail experience,” while his two-stars indicates the trail “may lack the ‘killer view’ features, but offers lots of little moments to enjoy.” His difficulty ratings also seem trustworthy: 3 means “Moderate: A good workout, but no real problems,” whereas a 5 means “Extremely difficult: Excessive elevation gain and/or more than 6 miles one-way, and/or bushwhacking required.”

I, for one, like to know the hard truth before I strap on my boots. Maps, gray-scale pictures and elevation graphs complete each trail entry, and cute, little icons remind me which trails are historical, kid-friendly, endangered, saved, etc.

Amy S. McCaffree


K2 Lies And Treachery
Robert Marshall
Carreg Press, 2009, 232 pages

On July 31, 1954 the Italian climbing team of Allie Campignoli and Lino Lacedelli reached the summit of K2, the planet’s second highest peak. Controversy arose even before the team and support climbers high on the mountain reached base camp. According to the official expedition account written by Ardito Desio, the expedition leader, Bonatti had intended to set out for the summit with the Hunza leaving Campignoli and Lacedelli stranded at Camp 9 with no oxygen.

Desio based his book largely on information provided by Campignoli, Bonatti and several other members of the team we not interviewed by Desio and did not know of his claims until the book was published.

Marshall describes Bonatti’s early attempts to have the record set straight. He describes Bonatti’s successful 1966 slander lawsuit against the Italian press for reporting the misinformation in Desio’s book to the general public.

In 2006 Lino Lacedelli writing with Giovanni Cenacchi produced K2: The Price of Conquest. In this work Lacedelli admits that most of Bonatti’s version is true. Even after Lacedelli’s admission the Italian Alpine Club refused to change the official account.

After years of intrigue and dispute within the Italian Climbing community, Robert Marshall, an early champion of Bonatti’s story, presents answers to the myriad questions surrounding the ascent and the differences between the accounts of Desio, Lacedelli and Bonatti. Finally, in 2008 the Italian Alpine Club finally agreed to amend the official account.

A book for the student of mountaineering his tory, the story in K2, Lies and Treachery, does not flow smoothly. Certain points are repeated in differing contexts too often. However, in spite of the tedious nature of Marshal’s presentaton, the reader leaves the book feeling that Bonatti’s story is true. He and Mahadi did carry the oxygen tanks to Camp 9 as planned but that they had to bivouac at over 8000 meters just short of the camp because Campignoli and Lacedelli placed Camp 9 higher than intended.

Stan Miller


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