He's used to seeing the surprised look on people’s faces when he tells them he wrote a guidebook to climbing 100 peaks in Mount Rainier National Park.
“There are a hundred peaks in the park?” said Mickey Eisenberg, a 68-year-old University of Washington professor. “That’s the most common response I get.”
There are, indeed, 100 peaks (in fact, there are more), and Eisenberg and Gene Yore recently published an e-book they hope will help people explore them and set the tone for the future of guidebooks.
Like most guidebooks, “Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park” (The Mountaineers, $9.95) has color photos, topographic maps and detailed route descriptions. But as an e-book, it’s also enhanced with links to Google Earth, weather reports, a website for logging your summits, and an interactive experience in which readers can earn medallions as they tick off the peaks — once the park reopens after the current federal government shutdown, that is.
“This is our valentine to the park,” Eisenberg said. “But also, we wanted to see if a guidebook like this is more or less useful than a traditional guidebook. It could help guide the future of guidebooks.”
Hikers, scramblers and climbers are linked to peakbagger.com, where they can create an account and log their successful summits. As their list grows, it is monitored by The Mountaineers, who will mail medallions to people who climb 25, 50 and 100 of the peaks. A fourth medallion is awarded for those who reach the top of the 15 peaks that can be reached by hiking.
“We wanted to make sure the hikers were included,” Eisenberg said.
According to peakbagger.com, Eisenberg is the only person to climb all of the 100 peaks. It took him 15 years. Yore has climbed 82 of the peaks and plans to finish the list soon. Only four other people have climbed more than 70 of the peaks.
The News Tribune recently caught up with Eisenberg closer to sea level to discuss the book:
Q: You described your book as a valentine to the park. How did you fall in love with Rainier?
A: I grew up in Detroit, Mich., and when you grow up in Detroit, Mich., mountains are kind of magical things. I came out here in 1971, and it’s been a love affair ever since. … My first trip to the mountain was with a couple of babies in the car and we drove to Paradise.
Q: Why did you decide to donate all of your proceeds to The Mountaineers, and what will the money be used for?
A: I feel such a debt of gratitude to The Mountaineers. I wouldn’t have gone to many of those places (in the book) if it was not for them. The proceeds will go to the climbing, scrambling and hiking committees.
Q: You write about 100 peaks at Mount Rainier, but leave out the big guy. Why?
A: There are already some great guide books for climbing Mount Rainier. The best is by (former Rainier climbing ranger) Mike Gauthier. I’ve read it (“Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide,” 2005, The Mountaineers Books, $19.95) and it is a wonderful guide book.
Q: What about the first time you climbed Rainier?
A: That was in 1982. I loved climbing the mountain. It was the adventure of a lifetime. But I realized I could go anywhere in the park and it was a special place. I guess my dream job would be a park ranger.
Q: Of the 100 peaks, which was your favorite?
A: I’ll answer that in three ways. My favorite climb was Little Tahoma. My favorite hike was Tatoosh, south of the park. It is drop-dead gorgeous. And my favorite scramble is Observation Rock by Spray Park.
Q: How often did you hike alone while researching your book?
A: Sixty were Mountaineers trips. Thirty-five were with friends and five were solo trips. But I considered those (solo trips) to be safe hikes. I don’t recommend scrambling or climbing without a partner but I do understand that is a personal choice.
Q: What’s a good first trip from your book for somebody without much experience?
A: Here’s a good one where you can get three peaks in one day. Drive up to Sunrise and hike to First Burroughs, Second Burroughs and Third Burroughs. It is less than 2,000 feet in elevation gain and it’s not very difficult. It’s beautiful. It’s one of the places I enjoy the most in the park.
Q: Do you have any plans to do any other guide books?
A: Oh no. This is it, but we are already hard at work on a second edition. We want to include better photos, especially of the summit approach. We want people to look at it and say “There is the route I need to go.” We want them to have the best information at their disposal. The great thing about an e-book is it doesn’t cost the publisher anything to do a second edition. You just update the file, push a button and you have a second edition.
Craig Hill: 253-597-8497
BEFORE YOU GOTypically, many of the peaks Mickey Eisenberg and Gene Yore write about in Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park (shown above) would be climbable through the middle of October. However, recent storms have dumped snow in the Cascades and washed out foot logs at Mount Rainier National Park.
Climbers should check route and weather conditions and have appropriate gear and skills before trying a backcountry trip.
"Staying safe," Eisenberg said, "thats the most important thing."