Beyond The Vertical by Layton Kor follows the climbing career from childhood into old age of the author. The format of the book is a series of short vignettes of different climbing trips from a wide variety of Layton’s partners (including Steve Roper, Jim McCarthy and Royal Robbins) glued together by Layton’s own recounting of his climbing career. The descriptions of their approach to climbing, and the shear sense of adventure that compelled them inspires me as a human and as a climber. Layton’s major contributions were to Colorado climbing at Eldorado Canyon, Long’s Peak and The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. He also put up bold climbs in Yosemite, the Dolomites and elsewhere making himself into a climbing legend.
I think this book will inspire any climber, but might be dull to a non-climber. Some of the most interesting passages are actually about the logistics, strategies, and techniques used to make the climbs possible. Some of the inventions, such as Royal Robbins’ jumar based haul systems, new pieces of protection, and the logistics of big wall climbing, enabled new climbs which would have been impossible. This history of climbing grew my appreciation for the boldness and adventurousness of those who came before. Now to repeat a Layton Kor route! Maybe one of the following: