Warnings against Myself

Meditations on a Life in Climbing

David Stevenson

  • Published: 2016. Paperback February 2018
  • Subject Listing: Literature / Creative Nonfiction; Nature and Environment; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 256 pp., 21 illus., 5.5 x 8.5 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Contents

From his youthful second ascent of the north ridge of Mount Kennedy in the Yukon's Saint Elias Range, an in-and-out on skis for which he had not entirely learned how to ski, to a recent excursion across the Harding Icefield conceived under the influence of rain and whiskey, David Stevenson chronicles several decades of a life unified by a preoccupation with climbing. Reflective and literary, and also entertaining and funny, his accounts move across the great climbing locations of the western United States, with forays into the spires of the Alps, and slip freely in time from the author's childhood, when he could not wait to head west, to his adulthood, with a wife and two sons, in which he still feels compelled by a longing to be on the heights.
David Stevenson is the director of the Creative Writing and Literary Arts Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is the author of the short fiction collection Letters from Chamonix, winner of the Banff Mountain Festival Fiction Prize.

"Beginners or seasoned hardmen alike will pump their fists to the honesty, humility, and thoughtfulness of Warnings against Myself. Whether vying to free the Nose or march up Mt. Washington, we all experience ill-definable moments of enrichment-artfully tilled, under Stevenson's scrutiny, to show what climbing means to our lives."
-Jonathan Waterman, author of In the Shadow of Denali: Life and Death on Alaska's Mt. McKinley

"With this book, Stevenson has joined the ranks of that rare breed: an excellent mountaineering writer. With remarkable insight he gives us stories that demonstrate that one doesn't have to be a full-time committed climber to enjoy wild adventures. As a professor and a dedicated family man, he has somehow found the time to explore all facets of the mountain trade, from surviving Alaskan peaks to struggling up scary rock climbs. His essays show a remarkable awareness not only of the physical world but of the innermost turmoil that can occur during moments of stress."
-Steve Roper, author of Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber

Warnings against Myself

1. Speaking in Code: Conversations and Reflections on Climbing, Language, and the Religion of the French
2. The Purposes of Ascent: Episodes and Conversations on Adventure, Climbing, and What It All Might Mean; An Account of Twenty Years in the West
3. Climber as Writer: From the Armchair to the Tetons Last Dance of the Wu Li Master: A Distanced Appreciation of Terrance "Mugs" Stump Virga
4. Untethered in Yosemite: A Report from Paradise in the Last Summer of the Millennium
5. Short Walks with McInerney: Three Classic Pilgrimages
6. Superstitious: Mont Blanc, French Alps
7. Struck: Longs Peak, Rocky Mountains
8. In the Bugs: In the Canadian Rockies
9. Axe of Contrition
10. Byron Glacier, June 24, 2009
11. Eros on the Heights
12. The Tower and the Riddle
13. Lives of the Volcano Poets
14. Here Comes Ol' Flattop
15. A Short Cultural History of the Ice Axe in the Twentieth Century
16. Three Dreams of Mountains, Late Fall 2004
17. Whillans, Haston, and Me: A Distanced Appreciation with a Couple Trip Reports, Contextualized
18. In the Very Big Ice House: Travels on the Harding Icefield

List of Illustrations

"This collection of essays provides an evocative look into the somewhat exclusive climbing world. Stevenson's prose is lively, and his references to other prominent climbers and climber-authors may serve as a jumping-off point for further research in the field."
-Lucy Hereford, Pacific Northwest Quarterly (PNQ)