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The Wallowas

Coming of Age in the Wilderness

William Ashworth

With a new afterword by the author.

Northwest Reprints

6 × 9 inches. Glossary of mountaineering terms. 192 pages.

1998. ISBN 978-0-87071-523-5. Paperback, $17.95.

Part adventure story and part spiritual memoir, William Ashworth's The Wallowas recounts a young man's search for the challenges and the solace that the wilderness offers. It's the story of how as a student at Whitman College, Ashworth discovered the Wallowa Mountains in remote northeast Oregon. From that time on, the Wallowas were an obsession. Weekends and vacations were dedicated to exploring a rugged country roughly the size of Los Angeles and home to 126 peaks, each over 8,000 feet high.

In language vivid and precise, Ashworth describes as he and a coterie of climbing buddies attempt ascents of Eagle Cap, Pete's Point, Sacajaweja, and the Matterhorn. Climbing and camping in summer rain and winter blizzards, they face the challenge of the Wallowa high country and the humility it teaches. The book tracks the author's coming of age in the wilderness from a need to conquer mountains to an awareness of the redemptive qualities found in these wild places and the need to preserve the last of them. "We need wilderness not only for what it can do for us but for what it can mean to us," writes Ashworth. "We need the wilderness — to grow up in."

Twenty years after its original publication, the Oregon State University Press is pleased to introduce William Ashworth's classic memoir to a new generation of readers.

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