Paper pub. date
January 1998
ISBN 9780870715235 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 192 pages. Glossary of mountaineering terms.

The Wallowas

Coming of Age in the Wilderness

William Ashworth
With a new afterword by the author.

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.

About the author

William Ashworth is the author of numerous books on the environment and natural history, including The Economy of Nature, The Late, Great Lakes, and The Wallowas: Coming of Age in the Wilderness, a volume in the Oregon State University Press Northwest Reprints series. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

Read more about this author

"An autobiography at once poetic, philosophical, and exciting… No one who reads [William Ashworth's] book can fail to understand what the wilderness means to all life. This is a work that prods the conscience, as well as superb entertainment."

Publishers Weekly

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