Monthly Archives: August 2011

Landscape: Torreys Peak Kelso Ridge

My friend Rich and I both agreed on the Torreys summit that speed climber Ueli Steck was on our minds as we recently speed-scrambled up Kelso Ridge on Torreys Peak, one of Colorado’s fourteeners at 14,267 feet.

The ridge looks sort of daunting from this angle—you can see me just barely in the distance wearing an orange shirt. Rich and I met up with a group of people for an early morning hike in Denver and then decided to hike Torreys on our way back to Vail. Since we didn’t get a very early start here, we just decided that we’d motor up it from the Gray’s Peak summer trailhead at 11,280 feet.

Coming along the ridge was the most exciting part. The website lists this as Class 3, so there weren’t any moves were you felt like you needed a rope or anything. There were a few sections of upward climbing…and you probably wouldn’t want to fall, as there were a few places that wouldn’t leave you in a pretty place. But there were lots of good places for hands and feet scooting across the ridge.

An hour and forty-five minutes after we left our car, we were on the summit. We both wondered out loud how long it would have taken Ueli to make it up that. In case you don’t know who Ueli Steck is, check out this amazing five-minute YouTube video from his speed solo on the Eiger—it took him only 2 hours and 47 minutes! I think he could have made it up Kelso Ridge in about 20 minutes…or less?

Literature: Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers

Title: The Leftovers // Author: Tom Perrotta // Publisher: St. Martin’s Press // September 2011 // 368 p.

Be on the lookout this month for Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers, a sort of satirical novel that explores the startling question: What if millions of us disappeared in a split second? One moment, we’re there jogging on a treadmill at the gym. The next, we’re gone. And our families and friends are left behind to sift through the aftermath of our mass exodus. In The Leftovers, the residents of Mapleton are living through such a time, and Perrotta captures their story with a great deal of humor and wit.

This is a good book for those who enjoy religious humor—Perrotta makes light of a serious situation without being icky or disrespectful. Even though some of Perrotta’s characters believe that they’re living through the Rapture, most are instead calling it the Sudden Departure because no one knows exactly why so many people disappeared on October 14. Perrotta gives us a glimpse of the lives of the leftovers three years on, at a transition time when widowed spouses are dating again, people are joining cults to deal with global uncertainty, and teenagers are rebelling from their parents, as usual.

Perrotta does a great job creating and maintaining suspense through this novel. He leaves his readers in a cloud of unknowing, just as Mapleton residents were left by their friends, families, and neighbors after the Sudden Departure. In doing so, he puts us in a position to experience this strange life along with them, “as if the whole world had paused to take a deep breath and steel itself for whatever was going to happen next.”

To read my full review of The Leftovers on the Contemporary Literature website, click here.