Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Review - Off The Wall: Death in Yosemite

Authors: Michael P. Ghiglieri & Charles R. "Butch" Farabee; Jr.

A few months ago I finished an amazing book called Off The Wall: Death In Yosemite. It catalogs every recorded death in Yosemite since the 1800s. This book is ridiculously thick, but I couldn't put it down. The stories are split into categories by which the deaths happened. It has every possible scenario you could imagine, and more.

It sounds like a morbid topic, but I actually found this book to be extremely informative. Most of the gruesome stories paint a picture of bad decision making. This is a skill that's very important to have when one is hanging out in nature. Common sense is not a gift that everyone has, but this book can teach you the basics. Small things count in the wilderness, for example, never leaving your group. I can't tell you how many stories started with, "and somehow the group got split up."

Reading about the demise of others is a great way to teach awareness and problem solving. The book was written by former Yosemite Search and Rescue members, and their insight to these horrible accidents make you realize how precious life really is. They have seen it all, and most have lived to tell about it.

If you travel outdoors, I highly suggest this book. It's a tough read sometimes and can get graphic, but the lessons I took away are priceless. Humans are curious by nature, but not always ready for what nature has to throw at them. It might sound cliche´, but the Eagle Scouts and Boy Scouts of America have it right, always be prepared. Most of the deaths in this book were very preventable and being prepared could have made the difference. Any outdoor enthusiast should have this book on their shelf right next to Mountaineering: The Freedom Of The Hills. It could just save your life.

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