Saturday, February 14, 2015

The North Cascades by William Dietrich

I've always felt there is something special about the North Cascades and this book affirmed that feeling.

With 2.7 million acres of protected areas in the U.S. and Canada, the territory is a half a million acres bigger than Yellowstone National Park. They have been called the “American Alps.” They are not the tallest mountains in the U.S. but they have sharp inclines and a thousand alpine lakes. Mountain climbers love them for developing their climbing skills.

Some interesting facts include that Jack Kerouac spent a summer at the Desolation Peak fire lookout in 1956. It contains the longest railroad tunnel in the U.S. The rainfall on the west side of the mountains can be as high as 160 inches a year while on the east side it is only ten inches. The first white man known to cross the range was a fur trader and explorer, Alexander Ross, in 1814. It is the most glaciated region in the lower 48, containing 750 glaciers. The one degree Celsius increase in temperature over the last century has melted half of the glacial area in the North Cascades. Mt. Baker holds the record for the most snowfall recorded in a single season – 1,140 inches at the ski area in 1998-99. Mt. Shuksan is frequently said to be the most photographed mountain in the world.

The latter part of the book contains vignettes of people who have played an important role in the North Cascades region. One of them is John Scurlock, a Concrete resident who flies and photographs the Cascades. You can see some of his photos at and you can watch a ten minute video at

I really enjoyed this book about the mountains I see every sunny day and enjoy so much.

Braided River (Mountaineer Books), 192 pages.
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