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Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hang Dogs

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Have you ever wanted to sleep hanging hundreds of feet above the ground off of a sky hook? If this sounds like your bag you might want to pick up Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hang Dogs (1994) by John Long. If you’ve never heard of John Long you might want to find out who this “Stonemaster” really is. Not only is he a key figure in the history of California rock climbing he is one heck of a storyteller and climber. In this book Long talks about meeting Yosemite pioneer Jim Bridwell who taught him the ethics and style of the era. We should all be so lucky to find someone like Bridwell to teach us. Not only does Long reiterate what Bridwell taught him, he does so in an very easy to read manner.

The accounts he gives about Yosemite in the 1970’s provide unique a perspective about being a Camp 4 dirtbag and are guaranteed to get any climber’s hands sweaty. Long gives great insight into the second golden age of climbing — before all the bolts went in. There’s also a great short section on his ethics. The book ends with a harrowing tale about following John Bachar free solo around Joshua Tree. Now that’s adventure! This book is a must read for any rock climber. Pick it up and try not to smudge the pages with your greasy, wet palms.