Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Galen Rowell: A Retrospective

A book of photos from a great outdoorsman who was equal parts climber and photogrpaher

Warning: Opening this book will inspire a wanderlust that may be impossible to repress. It is difficult to say whether Galen Rowell was a photographer who climbed or a climber who photographed, but either way, he was the exemplar nonpareil in both disciplines. His laundry list of epic first ascents and travels to far off lands is only equaled by the depth and breadth of his photography portfolio, and many of his finest prints are in this tome. In addition to the photos, there are also several essays from eminent personalities within the outdoor community, which reflect on everything from wilderness ethics to adventure photography to exploring the unseen corners of the earth.

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As a backpacker, Rowell’s photos particularly resonate with me because many are not from the edge of the road or a well-traveled overlook. Rather, some of his finest prints are from deep in the backcountry or high in the mountains, which are the kinds of places that only our ilk are willing to work to get to. His pictures make you want to be there, and he has a gift for incorporating people into his photography in a way that enhances the wilderness appeal rather than detracting from it. And should the wanderlust grab a hold of you, look on the bright side; it will soon be a new year, and you’ll have to set some goals for 2012. You might as well have some international epics on the list!