« Return to this article

Know the West

On the rock from the climber’s view

A new book is a ‘deeply beautiful survey of climbing.’


If you’re looking to relax with a different kind of nature book, sit down with Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations across North America. This monograph’s impressive environmental photographs, many taken from rock faces at great heights, span the seasons and nations of North America. It’s all seen from a climber’s perspective — climbers traversing arches in Utah, California’s Joshua Tree National Park at twilight and, of course, the glorious “El Cap” in Yosemite. A passion for the outdoors and deep appreciation of its grandeur are evident throughout, with mountaineers in helmets and bright apparel sharing their thoughts and their often spiritual feelings about the sport. “It is a deeply beautiful survey of climbing,” writes Jesse Lynch. And if the colorful climbing jargon leaves you hanging at times — words like “choss” or “kneebar” or “wag bag” — there’s a helpful glossary included. (Hint: “Wag bag” is a term taken from dog walkers.) 

François Lebeau

Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations across North America
By François Lebeau and Jesse Lynch
272 pages, hardcover: $50.
Rizzoli New York, 2019