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Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire
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Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  418 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
These compelling profiles of 22 adventurous¿yet unlucky¿climbers chronicle more than a century of exploration, recreation, and tragedy in New Hampshire¿s Presidential Range.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Appalachian Mountain Club Books (first published May 1st 2000)
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Crystal Greek
Jul 03, 2014 Crystal Greek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone hiking or thinking about hiking in the White Mountains should read this book. It's very fact-based, but engaging, and not morbidly told though it's subject matter is ultimately very sad. Respect for nature's awesome power is essential. I hiked Mount Washington two years ago on a day when the conditions were questionable. I've been elated over this feat, particularly because it was my first hike ever, but this book scared the stuffing out of me by laying bare what could happen. It's a gr ...more
Steve Troutman
Feb 18, 2011 Steve Troutman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
STOP. The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure even in the Summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad.

ATTENTION. Try this trail only if you're in top physical condition, well clothed, and carrying extra clothing and food. Many have died above timberline from exposure. Turn back at the first sign of bad weather.

I can't say these are the most welcoming signs to a trail. Nonetheless, they're real warning signs you'll find in the White Mountains. They're
Feb 11, 2014 Tami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone familiar with the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this book is a great collection of unhappy endings and cautionary tales from centuries of hikes in the Presidential Range. A casual read gets a bit bogged down by the geographical detail into which Howe dives, but if you should ever choose to recreate one of these tragic hikes you would be able to chart its course quite precisely. A good read for hikers!
Jul 22, 2009 Dereka rated it it was amazing
Perversely I have always loved reading about accidents-- this book was especially interesting because it included a short description of an event on Mt. Washington involving my father. Caught in a storm he and another man survived in a small refuge hut for three days without food..."both the observers (what they called men who worked at the observatory) and the emergency shelters worked exactly as they were meant to"
Jan 31, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf, history
When I left the US for Japan, I came with three books: The Neverending Story, Good Omens and this one. I had this book because it was a departure gift from Chris Soule who, with his folks, had come out to Logan airport to see me off at the gate. It was a more innocent time.... We had both hiked up Mount Washington and along some of the more beginner-friendly trails (for my benefit, not his) and had, in retrospect, enjoyed it immensely. I do believe that, during the actual hiking, I was in favor ...more
Jun 04, 2012 allimo rated it liked it
Recommended to allimo by: dad
After reading so many books about climbing in the Himalayas, it's actually frustrating to read about the numerous deaths that have occurred in and around Mt. Washington (a mountain barely 1/5 the height of Everest, at 6,288 feet high). Nearly all of the stories related in this book are due to hikers' lack of preparation or experience, which simply boggles the mind as Mt. Washington is famous for being the home of the world's worst weather - even more severe than the Antarctic much of the time, y ...more
Dec 16, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
A mystical and breathtaking journey documenting the gripping adventure, history and tragedy of one of the most beautiful and deadly mountains in the world, Mt. Washington. I loved every lurid and resplendent cautionary tale of mountain lore. Regional writing and local color at it's best. Deeply moving, with vivid descriptions of those who have lived and died in the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of NH. A wonderful read.
Mar 01, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
I first became interested in accounts of human beings facing overwhelming challenges as they pit themselves against nature when I read Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer. Of the several books I've read on the subject since then, Krakauer's is still the best and most affecting, but all have been interesting. My interest is, I admit, a little morbid; I'm fascinated by the descriptions of physical suffering and even death. It's so hard to imagine putting o ...more
Melissa Guimont
Jul 21, 2014 Melissa Guimont rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
I started reading this during an overnight winter trip in New Hampshire's White Mountains. I hiked up to the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut in early March and stayed in one of their structures. I figured this book would be an appropriate read and it would make me even more aware of the power and awesomeness that this mountain range holds. I was amazed and stunned at the stories that were told in this book. The history of the hiking of MT. Washington and it's surrounding peaks was thorough and finely deta ...more
Dec 06, 2016 EJ rated it it was amazing
Marvelously well researched, Howe takes us through the numerous tragedies on the White Mountains of New Hampshire from when man first decided to leave his mark on the range. Howe's love of the mountains is palpable, and his respect for the people who make their living on the range is immense. Because of the nature of the loss of life Howe's tone is factual, with journalistic detachment with only a few instances where his disgust for the stupidity of human nature simply couldn't be avoided.

Aug 17, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grown-up-books
Criticisms of this book point out its macabre focus on death. Indeed, most of these tales of "misadventure" do end in fatalities, but that's the whole point. Because of their accessibility and proximity, the Presidentials are grossly underestimated by many, many people who drive up to climb them. I've seen some pretty dumb things up there myself, and this book serves as a reminder to anyone climbing in the Whites that "there, but for the grace of better planning and judgment, go I."

It's remarka
Adam Morel
Dec 22, 2015 Adam Morel rated it it was amazing
Here is a chronicle of 150 years of death in the same White Mountains I traversed with friends just a few months ago. The story of twenty-two souls who have perished there is set forth with the reportorial dryness of a rock-solid journalist who knows mountains do not weep for their victims.

These deaths almost all, at their core, resulted from hypothermia. Facing terrible wind, cold and menacing terrain, many who lose their lives simply get lost, get cold and collapse. The Whites take lives in a
Jan 31, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Not Without Peril is a moving account of many (mostly) deadly misadventures in the Presidential range. Woven around these stories is the history of hiking in the White Mountains and a glimpse into the lives of several people who were crucial in shaping that history, among whom Joe Dodge is a notable example.

In one or two places toward the beginning of the book I thought the author seemed a bit on the judgemental side, but this tone (if indeed it was there) disappeared as the stories continued an
Lauren Csaki
Nov 01, 2015 Lauren Csaki rated it really liked it
My friend asked me what book I was reading this weekend, and I said, "Oh, it's a book of stories of people who have died hiking in the White Mountains." As I said it, I had to laugh at how utterly dour that sounded. "That's some dark reading for your birthday weekend..." my friend pointed out. He wasn't wrong. But for some reason, stories of tragedy have this knack for captivating an audience. Howe's book is incredibly well-researched, and his choice of stories is nicely selected. For a little w ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Gene rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A must read for Mount Washington hikers!

At first I thought this was just a collection of reports of hikers lost on the mountain, but I soon found common thread in a series of unique stories. They add their mark to the history of the Presidential Range, and add sober realization to the dangers of the little mountain we call Mt. Washington.

It's sobering to think how quickly things can go bad in a place I walked, which seemed little more than a tough day-hike. Nicholas Howe reminds me that the moun
Stefan Martiyan
Jul 02, 2015 Stefan Martiyan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book 4 stars not b/c it was a page turner or incredibly interesting to read, but instead b/c it served its intended purpose, i.e., to provide the reader a detailed historical account of mishap and peril (and heroism) in the White Mountains. This book is very informative and well documented and is highly recommended to anyone planning a hike above tree line in the Whites; even in summer (see story of Don Barr - died of hypothermia in August). I've been to the Whites twice w/two specif ...more
Mar 10, 2007 Tanya rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE. It's a book that's very personal to me.
If you get a chance to read this book, please make sure to read Chapter 17, "The Deadliest Season" (pg. 257). It's about a friend of mine, Derek Tinkham, from high school (he went to Narragansett) that died on January 15, 1994 at 20 years old of hypothermia on the summit of Mt. Jefferson (part of the Mt. Washington Presidential range).

Derek was such a amazing friend and would do anything for anyone. He was a lot like my brother, Chuck, and Joe. If you could take Chucky and Joe's best qualities
A.D. Morel
Mar 30, 2013 A.D. Morel rated it it was amazing
5 stars because I could not put it down. Stayed up all night in a tent, with no-see-ums biting because they were attracted by the light of the flashlight. But it was worth it. The accounts of people who died on Mt Washington, in the White Mountain National Forest, was so gripping. And even though their plight was known (looks like everyone whose story is told in this book was a fatality) I couldn't help hoping they would get some sense, turn and go back. Lesson to learn -- when you are hypotherm ...more
Deb Grove
Jun 05, 2015 Deb Grove rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books on Mt Washington. Yes, it is about the deaths that took place from the early 1800s to the present day. Mt. Washington is one of those fierce places that demands respect. It can be sunny and in the 80s below in August yet in the 30s and 40s and horrible winds and weather on top. One of my "favorite" chapters is the tragic story of 3 young ladies and the father of one of them who climbed on a perfect summer day in the valley. Above treeline, it was a whole different s ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Alisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I picked this up in AMC's Carter Notch Hut and read the first 55 pages of it. Because, when you're hiking in the White Mountains, what's more fun than readings about disasters and death on Mount Washington?

Sadly, as the book went on, it became a little redundant and some of the stories just weren't as fleshed out as the earlier ones, making them a bit less interesting. Still, a fascinating read about the White Mountains and the perils therein. Also, a sobering reminder that Mother Nature is one
Jan 07, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it
I love those stories about adventures I'll never have, but think I could handle with ease. I live in NH and have climbed the Whites often, and only the weak ones freeze and die right? This from an idiot who tried to climb Washington in November from the Tuckerman side, and thankfully turned back after a "heavy mist" rolled over the headwall and cut visibility down to a few feet. Of course, on the way down in the almost-dark I met a few flatlanders heading up, wearing parkas and sneakers. We neve ...more
Jan 15, 2015 Martha rated it really liked it
Nicholas Howe strings together the stories of generations of visitors who have perished (or nearly perished) on the Presidential Range in a narrative that is informed by his personal and intimate knowledge of the terrain and his own involvement in some of the stories. Deadly turns of weather, bad choices, bad luck, and in a few cases, plain old stupidity, inform these stories. At the end of the book there is a list of names of all who had died on the mountains up until 1999. It runs on for seve ...more
Nov 26, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I really enjoyed this read! I definitely enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second...perhaps b/c the history of the 1800's and early 1900s in the mountains interested me more. I also found some of the weather patterns and accidents more understandable back than then in more recent history, so perhaps that explains why I found them more interesting (rather than just thinking - wow - that person was not smart). I also found the impact on the trail history and the shelters very intere ...more
Jan 20, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy hiking or meandering around the White Mountains, this is THE book to read to give you the context of the trails and a deeper respect for the people that work on and around them. It's the history of the Presidential Range told through the stories of the people who have died there.

You wouldn't like this IF you don't like the Mountains or stories without happy endings, although 1 story features a survivor!
Mar 08, 2007 Joe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hikers / Banshee's / Those who love Mt. Washington
Shelves: hiking
One of my favorites by far. This is the 3rd time I've read this book. It starts with the early years of how man first found and ascended Mt. Washington and takes you to the late 1990's, reviewing trips/stories of how people do not respect Mt. Washington as it is only 6,288'. People need to understand that those who climb Everest, train on Mt. Washington as it is host to the WORLDS worst weather. The weather on Mt. Wash is worse than on top of Everest, the only difference is the altitude.
Aug 14, 2016 Sharon rated it liked it
If I knew the area and trails better, I would definitely keep reading. But without any context for the details, the book reads as: Take one overconfident outdoorsperson, add a pinch of sunshine at the bottom, stir in some nasty weather at higher elevations, bake in a sleet and wind-covered shelter made of branches, and rally the troops to find and carry out the corpse a few days later. The first few stories were gripping, but after that...
Apr 19, 2012 Zoe rated it it was amazing
Having hiked the Presidential Range every summer (and winter this year!) for the past 9 years, these stories of the dangers of the mountains were really interesting. I remember one Columbus Day weekend when my husband wanted to do a solo trip up Mt Washington. He decided not to go, and afterwards we saw photos showing an ice storm that left 4 foot ice sculptures hanging from every tree. This book is the story of trips like these.

Matt Larson
Aug 28, 2016 Matt Larson rated it really liked it
Fun read, especially if you are an avid climber or hiker. I am currently climbing the NH 4000 footers and this book has great relevance for that type of endeavor. Filled with cautionary tales of deaths in the white mountains, Not Without Peril highlights how most accidents can be avoided by knowing when to turn around and waiting to climb the mountain another day. Especially Mt. Washington!
Dec 01, 2009 Pjtibbetts rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: outdoors-y folks
Recommended to Pjtibbetts by: AMC
Good stuff.

The spiel about MacDonald Barr was pretty riveting, I could relate to the terrain as I hiked Mt. Madison in July '06. 94 degrees at the base, Valley Way up, hit a vicious thunderstorm just below the timberline, temp @ summit was 42 with ~60mph winds, etc.

Do not underestimate the Presidentials.
Mar 23, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christmas-2013
Excellent book. A must for anyone who has been up Mt. Washington or thinks of hiking it someday. The deaths are haunting. Good writing to go with the tales that could easily gotten overdramatized or become rote as a body count of the 140 people over the years who didn't plan on dying the day they laced up their boots and took to a mountain completely out of their element in many cases.
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“The Stage Office” on Mount Washington housed the first year-round weather observatory in the 1870s. It was used again when observers re-occupied the summit in 1933. Max Engelhart was serving snacks here when a storm overtook him in October 1926.” 0 likes
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