INTERVIEW WITH MICKEY CO-AUTHOR OF GUIDE TO 100 PEAKS AT MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK


MickeyGeneLong-time members of The Mountaineers, Mickey Eisenberg (pictured at left) and Gene Yore (right) recently released their eBook-only title Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park.

After years of consideration, then research, then writing, and finally creating the enhanced maps and tools for the eBook, Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park is a labor of love for a wilderness dear to Washingtonians. We recently chatted with Mickey about their project. Here's what he had to say:

Writing a guidebook is a big undertaking. What motivated you to take this project on?

Gene and I think of this book as a giant valentine to Mount Rainier — truly a jewel in the earth’s crown, an amazing treasure.  We hope the book projects our love of the mountain and the park.  We also hope it encourages hikers, scramblers, and climbers to reach these amazing places in the park — other then just the Big One — and to do it safely, with good information. Many people don't think about the many peaks within Mount Rainier National Park, they assume the Big One is all there is to climb, when in fact there are 100 additional peaks to climb! Our guide is subjective — we share our opinions about our favorite and least favorite peaks.  Each peak is scored on a beauty and effort scale. 

How long did it take you to do the research and write this book?

The guidebook idea was incubating for several years and then it seemed to crystalize as I approached climbing my 100th peak there in 2010.  I drafted an early version and circulated it to friends and to The Mountaineers Scramble Committees of Seattle and Tacoma. When Gene became aware of this early version he — being the techy guy on our team — saw the potential to add enhanced content such as high-resolution maps, Google Earth images, etc. He saw technology as a means to enhance a climbing guidebook — not just to be flashy, but to use technology to make it easier to plan a climb, help you reach the top, and stay safe. For the past two years we have both been working on the book in our spare time. I still have a day job but Gene, being retired, invested a year working full time on the book.  Gene taught himself the skills to create an enhanced eBook while also spending time climbing the peaks. In 2012 Gene climbed 46 peaks from Guide to 100 Peaks, and in 2013 he's done many more! 

TatooshOf all the 100 peaks, which is your favorite? 

It is hard to pick just one so let me offer one of each type — hike, scramble, and climb.  My favorites are Tatoosh, Observation, and Little Tahoma, respectively.  Gene’s favorites are Skyscraper for the hike, and both Echo and Observation in a day for the scramble. His favorite climb is yet to be determined. 

Why did you leave "The Big One" out of your guidebook? 

There are several good climbing guides to Mt. Rainier (our favorite is Mount Rainier; A Climber’s Guide, 2nd Edition, by Mike Gauthier) as well as about the Wonderland Trail (Hiking the Wonderland Trail, by Tami Asars) and many great hiking guidebooks for the park (Day Hiking Mount Rainier). 

We had no desire to reinvent the wheel.  Our guidebook is completely different.  First, there is no guidebook describing the hundred named peaks in Mount Rainier National Park, and second, there are no guidebooks with such a multitude of enhanced features as Guide to 100 Peaks.  

You've donated all your royalties for the book to The Mountaineers. Why? 

Quite simply this book would not exist without The Mountaineers.  Through this organization we learned mountaineering skills, as well as an appreciation for the natural world of the Pacific Northwest.  My wife, Jeanne, and I began climbing these peaks in 1996 as part of Mountaineers outings. The organizers of those scrambles were terrific leaders with expert route finding skills. I learned a lot from them and I'm especially grateful to the Seattle Scramble Committee of The Mountaineers.  Gene feels equally appreciative to the Seattle Climbing Committee for all they've taught him. Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park is, in part, an expression of our gratitude to those volunteers who shared their love of the park with us.

Did you learn anything about Mount Rainier National Park while researching the book that you hadn't known prior? Cowlitz

Gene learned the importance of owning a Spot emergency radio.  Once he went out alone on a short but challenging scramble and foul weather made him way overdue (though Gene disputes my emphasis on "way overdue").  He was fine and no worse for wear but myself and wife insisted he carry a Spot radio for future solo ventures.  Mostly though, both of us learned a lot about the park in general — like Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 as the nation’s fifth national park.  And in 1890 Fay Fuller was the first woman to climb Mount Rainier. Fay Peak, named in her honor, is one of the trips in our book.  Guide to 100 Peaks includes tons of interesting facts like this about the park. 

Where can I buy the book and what formats is it available in?

Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National ParkThe eBook comes in two versions, PDF and iBook.  The iBook version of the eBook is sold through the Apple iBookstore and is $14.95.  The iBook version can only be viewed on an iPad or iPad mini, but as an iBook it has more than 1000 high-resolution maps and photos, Google Earth images as well as links to weather, GPS tracks, discussion groups, and Peakbagger.com, where you can log your climbs online. The PDF version is sold at MountaineersBooks.org (order it here) and is $9.95. The PDF can be viewed on computers, smart phones, and many eReaders.  That version has 250 maps and photos and the same interactive online links as the iBooks version. 

Is there anything else you’d like the reader to know?

This guidebook is an experiment.  We think of it as a guidebook for the 21st Century with connectivity to realtime useful information.  But we’re not completely sure how this different type of guidebook will be received.  We also think of it as a work in progress and already have lots of ideas for the next edition.  But we’d also like to hear from the users.  Does the guidebook meet your needs?  What features would you like to see?  Please email us at 100mrnppeaks@gmail.com with your comments and questions!

Last words?

Enjoy and be safe out there.

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