Soul of the Heights: 50 Years Going to the Mountains (Hardcover)
Soul of the Heights is the story of a pioneering climber with a passion for, and lifetime dedication to, the majestic mountains of North America. First conquering the awesome faces and peaks--many of them previously unclimbed--then photographing them with an intimate eye, Ed Cooper has maintained this love affair with the mountains for more than fifty years. His unique story evokes the now-legendary early days of mountaineering and includes exclusive first-hand accounts by climbers of that era about many of the first ascents of new routes that have since become top destinations for new generations of climbers. These historic ascents include routes in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State; the "Chief," near Squamish, British Columbia; the Bugaboos, also in B.C.; and El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California. These ascents were all achieved in the 1950s and early '60s at a time when climbing standards were rising dramatically. Fascinated by the challenge of the heights, Ed Cooper became the first "climbing bum" in the Pacific Northwest, where he rapidly acquired a reputation as one of the most important all-around climbers of his generation. This book provides rare insight into the world of mountaineering and rock climbing during that era, revealing the intensely competitive nature of the sport at a time when so many opportunities were available for carving a place in climbing history as the first to complete a new challenge. The young climber's evolving quest to photograph the essence of the mountains he held in such awe resulted in a series of spectacular portraits of many of the best-known peaks of North America. These images provide the visual drama in Ed Cooper's story, which also contains many historically interesting photographs of early climbs, and of such noted mountain personalities as Norman Clyde, Warren Harding, and Galen Rowell.
About the Author
During the "Golden Age" of North American mountaineering, when the classic rock walls and technical new routes were being pioneered, Ed Cooper was one of the climbers in the forefront. His daring climbing accomplishments in Canada, the North Cascades, and Yosemite have become legendary. These climbing achievements not withstanding, he continued to pursue the great peaks of North America for many more years, with camera in hand, producing awe inspiring mountain photographs which are in league with the works of Ansel Adams and Bradford Washburn. Anyone familiar with conservation/mountaineering publications has probably seen his work, and his photos have graced the covers of such publications as Audubon, Arizona Highways, Backpacker, Living Wilderness, National Geographic, National Wildlife, Sierra, Sunset, and many others. In Soul of Heights, Cooper finally reveals to the reader the stories behind his enigmatic affair with the mountains. The narrative fulfills an important segment of climbing history. The photographs are timeless.
Ed Cooper’s vision, photographic skill, and knowledge of our scenic resources is unexcelled. Soul of the Heights combines the recall of daring and daunting climbing challenges with quintessential images. The result is truly inspirational.
FRED BECKEY[Note: Fred needs no introduction to the world of mountaineering. He has made more alpine first ascents and new routes than perhaps any else will ever make. Fred authored the highly acclaimed guidebooks for Pacific Northwest climbing.]
***I've had a wonderful time reading Soul of the Heights. It's really an autobiography of an extraordinary fellow--Ed Cooper of Sonoma, California--that's so very interesting that it's extremely difficult to lay it down!! Throughout his life, spent mainly in the out-of-doors, he has always been the happiest in mountainous regions.
Merely climbing to the tops of high and difficult peaks was no longer enough. He became fascinated by bringing back to civilization detailed reminisces of the wonders of the wilderness through the medium of superb photographs. The scores of these photographs with which this book is illustrated prove better than any words that our author is really a gifted photographer.
Soul of the Heights is a remarkable volume, which should be read and enjoyed by everyone interested in exploration or mountaineering, and it will make a great addition to anyone's library.
-- Brad Washburn
*** This beautifully illustrated photographic essay documents the author's life and times, from his childhood and youth in New York and through his career-seeking, wanderlusting travels that lead to the discovery of climbing as a way of life. His first scramble on Mt. Rainier in the early 1950's was the beginning of a climbing record that led to big-time wall climbs and numerous pioneering ascents in the western U.S. and Canada. But this was just a preamble to a satisfying career as an artistic photographer of the high alpine scene.
All of this is presented in this coffee-table edition--an absorbingly written text supported by super B&W and color photos that cover many decades in Cooper's illustrious career. With each superb shot is included a brief story behind each image. Such photographic data as subject title, camera, lens, f-stop, shutter speed, type of film (and for B&W prints type of photo paper and darkroom manipulations) are revealed--along with such observations as publishers inserting full moons in scenes where the direction of lighting is incompatible with that of the rest of the image.
All climbers and mountain lovers will enjoy this lively story, and having this volume as a ready reference in their personal libraries.
mountaineer, geologist, artist and designer/publisher of landform maps, author of The Challenge of Rainier
Ed Cooper will be remembered in the annals of mountaineering history for his many first ascents ranging from mountaineering routes to big rock walls. Cooper was one of the most prolific pioneer climbers in the Northwest in the late 1950's and early 1960's. His talents--which included free climbing, solo climbing, and mixed rock and ice--were unsurpassed by other Northwest climbers. And these feats occurred in the "dinosaur age of climbing," when equipment and techniques were primitive by the standards of today.
But it does not stop there. Many of us will know Ed Cooper for his brilliant photography. With his large format cameras, he captures the beauty and mystique of the mountain world. Among his thousands of outstanding images, surely his Moon over the Titan in Utah's Fisher Towers will be celebrated in the annals of nature photography.
Cooper is a visionary with an eye for the aesthetic, whether it be a classic line on a rock wall or the subtleties of nature photography. His contributions to photography and the mountain world have firmly secured his place in history.
Eric Bjornstad, Moab, Utah
[Note: Eric is author of four rock climbing guides to the desert (the most
recent of which was published in 2003) and is himself a legend for his
many first ascents, especially of desert rock formations.]
*** Anyone who has ever read any of the Fred Beckey "Cascade Alpine Guide" books has seen the fabulous photos by Ed Cooper. Many Beckey reading climbers may not know that Ed was one of the original hard climbers in the 60's, putting up outstanding and difficult first ascents without benefit of sticky rubber, perlon ropes, grigri's, or any of the other modern devices today's climbers consider essential. How would YOU like to lead a 5.10 layback in clunky boots and no sit harness?
You owe it to yourself to learn about the renaissance of rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest through the words of this self-styled "original climbing bum". You¿ll also have a chance to have a book of Ed Cooper photos; don¿t miss out.
Member of 2002 No Boundaries All Women¿s Everest Expedition