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The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre
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The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  177 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Patagonia’s Cerro Torre, considered by many the most beautiful peak in the world, draws the finest and most devoted technical alpinists to its climbing challenges. But controversy has swirled around this ice-capped peak since Cesare Maestri claimed first ascent in 1959. Since then a debate has raged, with world-class climbers attempting to retrace his route but finding ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published December 16th 2014 by Patagonia (first published October 14th 2014)
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From the moment I looked at the cover of this book I was captivated. There are few peaks as charismatic and beautiful as Cerro Torre, and yet it is often overlooked in alpine story telling in favor of bigger peaks or more traditional peaks, but that does not mean Cerro Torre does not have a history and story as fraught with bravery, controversy, and drama as the best of them.

Cordes takes you on a tour of the history of alpine climbing by telling the story of Cerro Torre, from the first attempts
Feb 19, 2015 Ralph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was sucked in from the first page. Of all the very many climbing books I've read this one ranks among the very best. The writing is crisp, clear and at times humorous. Kelly does not shy from the incredible controversy of the early ascents of Cerro Torre, and he presents the facts as he sees them. I enjoyed that he started off the book with the traditional accounts of the first ascent of the peak, then slowly peels away the layers of fiction from the truth. The book brings us up to the latest ...more
Oct 11, 2016 Grant rated it it was amazing
The Tower is a superb history of climbing on Cerro Torre, and the controversy that surrounds it. The book is well-researched and equally well-written, and I was strongly reminded of Jon Krakauer's writing. However, the book is not a strictly journalistic account, as Cordes is not shy about injecting his own experiences and opinion into the story, but I found this to be a boon and not a detriment. It includes awe-inspiring photos of the mountain, and helpful maps, timelines, and appendices. ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Jorge rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I came to this book from an NPR interview of the author and the nagging knowledge that—having lived for years in Argentina—I’ve never heard about Cerro Torre. Its neighbor the Fitz-Roy has been more famous and well-photographed, but on reading the tale of “the Tower” one can only wonder why Torre has been less popular.

The story of the quest to climb this mountain, which is a thing better belonging to a SF movie set in a distant planet, involves dangerous climbs in awful weather, vertical walls a
Reko Ukko
Feb 11, 2015 Reko Ukko rated it really liked it
Kelly Cordes writes a good summary of the controversy surrounding the history of Cerro Torre. It's nicely written and the chapters are nicely divided, jumping back and forth with the different protagonists of the story.

The hardcover is a bit strange though, the layout suggests that it maybe wanted to be a coffee table book (I actually bought it under the impression that it was, it felt like that in the marketing), but it's not and thus some of the nice pictures are perhaps a bit wasted. Also lot
Jul 08, 2015 Gabbi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read. I'm not a climber and have no desire to hang off mile-high cliffs, but I love mountain adventure books and this is a stand-out. I finished it the day after I got it from the library.

The fascinating part of the story is the controversy surrounding Cerro Torre's early ascents. Cordes examines the history in a rational, analytic way, and he's not afraid to arrive at unpopular conclusions and disagree with some highly-respected people in the climbing world. With personal experi
Nov 01, 2015 Arianna rated it liked it
I bought this book on a whim from Amazon and I quite enjoyed it. Centered on the he said/she said of Cerro Torre, one of the hardest climbs in the world and most controversial (you'll find out why), "The Tower" is written from a climber's perspective and delves into the world of mountaineering, specifically traditions behind mountaineering. It's an interesting study of trust, passion, and human motivation. A novice climber myself, I found the premise of the novel intriguing and the included ...more
Syzygous Zygote
Aug 20, 2016 Syzygous Zygote rated it really liked it
I wouldn't recommend this book to a non-climber, as it's honestly a purist alpine windbag arguing over climbing semantics. For climbers, though, it's a really solid polemic on why fair means ascents matter and why historical truth is important, examined through the lens of Cinco Torre, with a special focus on Cesare Maestri's highly controversial ascent and subsequent bolting of the Compressor route. The narrative could be tighter with better transitions between timelines, and in particular he ...more
Sam Thompson
Mar 02, 2016 Sam Thompson rated it liked it
An entertaining and informative book on the climbing history of this tower. Enough climber jargon and word porn to satisfy most who enjoy the sport, but the central theme of Ceasare Maestri really kills this book. Almost every chapter the author see's fit to remind us who Maestri is, what he's done, and why it's controversial. By the end of the book I just wanted to scream at the book "SHUT UP WE KNOW!". Much of the book is very disjointed as well. One chapter will have a page describing a ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Dave rated it it was amazing
"Never has a technical peak, especially so far from any population centers and mainstream hype, drawn such unmitigated and even unhinged passion. And never has a mountain been so influenced by one person, as Cerro Torre is by Cesare Maetri."

Remember that multimedia article covering the 2012 Stevens Pass avalanche? That got all kinds of press and recognition for being 'groundbreaking online journalism'. This book reminds me of that but in paper form. Kelly's placement of pictures, diagrams, perso
Brian E. Spivey
May 21, 2015 Brian E. Spivey rated it really liked it
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

I'm not very knowledgeable, nor a particular fan of mountaineering but I did find this book fascinating. The time and effort that enthusiast put into this sport is phenomenal, and they should definitely be acknowledged as among the best athletes in the world.

I enjoyed the vew into the growth of the sport from the late 1950's to present day although I must admit I kept hoping someone wouie find some evidence to validate the story of Maestri's c
Feb 20, 2016 Gerald rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roughin-it
Beautiful and deadly mountain. With questionable claims of conquests, specifically first ascents, the book provided an interesting look at the integrity, or lack thereof, found in the mountaineering community. Along side the storyline of false claims, came the controversy surrounding creating crutches (installation of bolts into the rock) which allow the less skilled to achieve that which only the elite could achieve otherwise.
What a great book! Extremely well-researched, with great photographs, interviews, & cross-references. Though it covers a broad scope of information- mountaineering ethics, history, cultural and political environments, etc- it's all well-centered around an engaging central character, namely Cerro Torre, and its attendant cast of characters and climbers.
An excellent expose' in the vein of Krakauer's early mountaineering books.
Carlo Martini
It's a well-written and fascinating story, but after a few captivating chapters it gets stuck on climbing ethics, and the book turns into an all-out bashing of anything that is not "climbing by fair means" or "alpine style". The whole story of climbing on Cerro Torre goes in the background, and the focus is only on who climbed what by what means. It becomes boring and only attractive to a a small range of specialized readers who can understand the issues pertaining to the debate.
Tyson Titensor
Not sure if I'd recommend it to a non-climber, but for someone wanting to understand what climbing style means and how it evolved this is probably the best book I've read. Required reading for any student of climbing history. Very well written and I hope Mr. Cordes goes on to write additional books....

May 16, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
This book didnt grab me at first. However, once the author began revealing evidence rather than laying out every person who ever attempted the route, I became intrigued. I didn't love this one quite as much as some of the outdoor books Ive read in the past but still a good read for anyone in the outdoor recreation community
Apr 07, 2015 Len rated it really liked it
A well-rounded account of extreme personalities in an extreme activity. I expected most of the book to be about the 'compressor' story and its aftermath, but (gladly) I found that the book covered a much broader history of the mountain and its climbers.
Katie Mummah
Dec 23, 2015 Katie Mummah rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I knew almost nothing about climbing in the chaltén massif and absolutely nothing about cerro torre. If you like climbing, Patagonia, and good stories, then this is a great book for you
Marty Nicholas
Dec 24, 2015 Marty Nicholas rated it it was amazing
Cerro Torre. A very well told history of this iconic mountain. Perhaps the most stunning of peaks, it's climbing history is surprisingly interesting and controversial. From the disputed 1959 1st ascent, the 1970 Compressor bolting to the present day, this is a great read.
Shamil Rasizade
Jan 05, 2015 Shamil Rasizade rated it really liked it
Amazing read, pretty much read this book in two days. Kelly Cordes did an amazing job describing climbs and drama on a mountain. Seriously felt like I was part of an experience climbing Cerro Torre. Read this even if you are not into climbing or mountaineering.
Zhen Sun
Nov 03, 2015 Zhen Sun rated it it was amazing
This book does a great job introducing the history of climbing in Patagonia through many amazing characters. Great read for both climbers and none climber. Highly recommend this book.
Jun 29, 2016 Barrett rated it really liked it
Thoroughly researched. Captivating at times, twice as long as necessary during other parts. Fascinating story.
Viktoriia Lastovets
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

The quality of book is very good! A hardcover, the paper, perfect!
Scott P
Scott P rated it really liked it
Jul 23, 2015
Andrew Rothner
Andrew Rothner rated it really liked it
May 28, 2016
Maggie rated it really liked it
Mar 08, 2015
Cameron rated it liked it
Feb 19, 2016
Irene Veltman
Irene Veltman rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2015
Daniel Rees
Mar 13, 2015 Daniel Rees rated it it was amazing
Raw, revealing and a superb read from start to finish.
heather rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2016
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