Authored by Ruth M. Alexander
A prized site for mountaineering since the 1870s, Longs has been a site of astonishing climbing feats–and, unsurprisingly, of significant risk and harm. As a site of outdoor adventure attracting mostly white people, Longs has also mirrored the United States’ tenacious racial divides, even into the twenty-first century.
In telling the history of Longs Peak and its climbers, Ruth M. Alexander shows how Rocky Mountain National Park, like the National Park Service (NPS), has struggled to contend with three fundamental obligations—to facilitate visitor enjoyment, protect natural resources, and manage the park as a site of democracy. Too often, it has treated these obligations as competing rather than complementary commitments, reflecting national discord over their meaning and value. Yet this history of Longs also shows us how, over time, climbers, the park, and the NPS have attempted to align these obligations in policy and practice.
Alexander’s nuanced account of Longs Peak reveals the dangers of undermining national parks’ fundamental obligations and presents a powerful appeal to meet them fairly and fully.
“Anyone who cares about the Colorado Rockies – and for that matter, everyone committed to democracy, public lands, and the daunting but essential work of making our great outdoors more inclusive – should dive into this lucidly written and wonderfully approachable book.” Thomas G. Andrews author of Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies
Softcover, 310pgs. Volume 5 in the Public Lands History series.