Getting more people high. That's the aim—in climbing terms—of long-time mountaineer Michael Hoyt and his book, Bitterroot Mountain Summits, published this spring by Stoneydale Press in Stevensville. The 384-page guide features every detail a beginner or intermediate might need to tackle more than 60 non-technical climbs to 50-plus summits in the Bitterroot Mountains. Chock-full of gorgeous photographs by Hoyt and his wife, Linda— who live in nearby Corvallis—the guidebook encourages the physically fit to stop thinking of peak-bagging as a superhuman feat. In Hoyt's view, they've been missing out on spectacular adventures—no capes required.
Instead, Hoyt provides a wealth of information about some easy climbs and many more in the moderate-to-strenuous range. For each route, he gives the basics—class level, elevation gain, distance traveled—bolstered by photos, topo maps, route advice, historic tidbits and even tips about slippery stream crossings. (Hoyt, a tireless contributor to the mountaineering Web site Summitpost.org, has made all the climbs himself). The landscape comes alive in glossy color photos of wildflowers and wildlife: calypso bulbosa on the Blodgett Creek trail, beard tongue by Mount Jerusalem, a pine marten. The text is also peppered with reality-checks, such as how many hours you'll be slogging ("expect it to take all day—a long day") and the wisdom of turning back when things go wrong ("The mountains will still be there tomorrow"). Technical climbers already have their guidebooks, or shun them religiously. For the rest of us, Hoyt's book is a welcome hand—with a lofty goal.