Soul of the Heights

Fifty Years Going To The Mountains

Book Description

Soul of the Heights is the story of a pioneering climber with a passion for, and lifetime dedication to, the majestic mountains of North America. First conquering the awesome faces and peaks—many of them previously unclimbed—then photographing them with an intimate eye, Ed Cooper has maintained this love affair with the mountains for more than fifty years.

His unique story evokes the now-legendary early days of mountaineering and includes exclusive first-hand accounts by climbers of that era about many of the first ascents of new routes that have since become top destinations for new generations of climbers. These historic ascents include routes in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State; the “Chief,” near Squamish, British Columbia; the Bugaboos, also in B.C.; and El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California. These ascents were all achieved in the 1950s and early '60s at a time when climbing standards were rising dramatically.

Fascinated by the challenge of the heights, Ed Cooper became the first “climbing bum” in the Pacific Northwest, where he rapidly acquired a reputation as one of the most important all-around climbers of his generation. This book provides rare insight into the world of mountaineering and rock climbing during that era, revealing the intensely competitive nature of the sport at a time when so many opportunities were available for carving a place in climbing history as the first to complete a new challenge.

The young climber's evolving quest to photograph the essence of the mountains he held in such awe resulted in a series of spectacular portraits of many of the best-known peaks of North America. These images provide the visual drama in Ed Cooper's story, which also contains many historically interesting photographs of early climbs, and of such noted mountain personalities as Norman Clyde, Warren Harding, and Galen Rowell.

About Cooper, Ed

Although he graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in metallurgical engineering, Ed Cooper has made photography his life work. Anyone who is familiar with conservation/mountaineering publications has probably seen his work, and his photos have graced at one time or another the covers of such publications as Audubon, Arizona Highways, Backpacker, Living Wilderness, National Geographic, National Wildlife, Sierra, Sunset, and many others.

Ed Cooper became the first "climbing bum" in the Pacific Northwest during the Golden age of North American climbing, (50s and 60s), where he rapidly acquired a reputation as one of the most important all-around climbers of his generation.

The December 2003 release of a climbing film, In the Shadow of the Chief, using archival film footage from the CBC taken in 1961, as well as contemporary footage, related the story of one of the climbs described in the book. The film is about the first ascent of the Grand Wall of the Stawamus Chief in Squamish, B.C., which the author/photographer made with Jim Baldwin in 1961; this climb evolved into an event sponsored by the town of Squamish. This film won the People's Choice award for the Best Film of the Festival at the Whistler Mountain Film Festival in December 2003. At the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival in February 2004, it won the Best Film Overall - the Festival Grand Prize.