“The San Juan Triangle — Ouray, Silverton, Telluride — is 542 square miles of beautiful,” writes the author Kent Nelson in his latest work, “Rescues and Tragedies in the San Juan Mountains.” The region’s summer (and autumn) roads regularly appear on lists of the nation’s most gorgeous, must-drive highways: “Molas Pass, Lizard Head Pass, and Red Mountain Pass, also known as the ‘Million Dollar Highway,’ offer spectacular vistas and access to the backcountry. With joy comes sorrow.” Read more
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading Rescues and Tragedies. I’m not an adventurer of the ilk dealt with here, and am not naturally drawn to stories about the people who inhabit Kent Nelson’s book. That said, I admit to having been pulled head-long into these accounts. In some cases, I was overwhelmed by the apparent stupidity of some of the people–the ones who went beyond legal and physical boundaries they should have known better not to violate. In other cases, I was impressed by how some folks just want to DO a thing–climb a mountain, ford a river, whatever–simply because it’s there to do, and the lure of the challenge seems to be irresistible. In all cases, motivations and relationships were examined, and stupid or not, the people written about became more fully and complexly human than I had expected.
My experience was due in large part to the excellence of the writing. Mr. Nelson is an accomplished and noted novelist and short fiction author (two of his stories appear at the end of the book). He is a writer primarily interested in the human condition, an interest that shines through loud and clear and raises Rescues and Tragedies above merely another piece of reportage. As a fiction writer myself, I applaud Mr. Nelson’s achievement and recommend any of his other work listed in the bibliography at the end of the book.
Because my brother fell to his death from a mountainside several years ago, I began reading this book expecting only chilling cautionary tales and was greatly moved by Kent Nelson’s descriptions of the selfless dedication of “behind the scenes” rescue workers.
Although the accounts and stories take place in Colorado’s San Juan Triangle and give an excellent travel portrait of that area, I think that they would be of great interest to adventurous trekkers, climbers, and off-road enthusiasts anywhere.
“Rescues and Tragedies” is a “good read”, its clearly stated warnings balanced with a respect for nature and the people who immerse themselves in it. – Laura
A well written interesting book. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in hiking,camping or outdoor living. It is always amazing how fast things can turn bad. Great perspectives on life and the human condition from the different stories. I enjoyed it immensely. – Jim
I really enjoyed this book. Having hiked for many years in Ouray it is interesting to see all the things that can happen to people. Believe me I know as I had to get rescued off the mountain myself this year. I recommend this book to anyone who loves hiking or is interested in mountain rescues. – Bill
On a visit to the area around Ouray, Colorado, I was blown away by the rugged, gorgeous scenery of the San Juan Mountains and the Million Dollar Highway! I was thrilled to find this book of real life rescue stories and tragedies, and quickly became engrossed in the colorful characters who braved the wild terrain. Author Nelson kept up the suspense and I found myself eager to find out if hikers and rescuers would make it out of the mountains alive. Each story was different, with events that included jeep rollovers, plane crashes, bear attacks, lost hikers, medical emergencies, ice climbing falls, and mountaineering disasters. For non-stop entertainment, don’t miss this book! – Nancy
Wonderful stories, so humanly told. My PR friend wrote “speaks with a regional voice” and that is certainly true. Having hiked many of the places you mention, your words brings back their images and sounds. Ouray is one place where the word awesome in all its meanings applies. Your language conveys that. Thanks for a great read.
I’m thinking OMRT may have to run tours of all the places mentioned in the book…. – Peg
My wife and I enjoy visiting the Ouray and Telluride region. The chapters are short and well written. The San Juan Mountains are dangerous and this book provides a cautionary tale to treat these dangerous areas with respect or pay the consequences. – Anonymous