Woman on the Rocks


Woman on the Rocks


Woman on the Rocks: 
The Mountaineering Letters of Ruth Dyar Mendenhall
Edited by Valerie Mendenhall Cohen
Introduction by Royal Robbins
352 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″
ISBN 1-893343-14-6

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The letters collected in Woman on the Rocks  document Ruth Mendenhall’s fifty-year mountaineering career which began in the 1930s on a trip to California’s Owens Valley. Ruth and husband, John Mendenhall, made numerous first ascents in America and Canada including some of the most classic in the Sierra Nevada: Mount Whitney, Third Needle (1939), Mount Sill, Swiss Arete (1938), Temple Crag, North Peak (1940), Mount Whitney, Southeast Buttress (1941), Lower Cathedral Spire, Yosemite (1948), Williamson, North Face (1957) and Mt. Mendenhall. 

For forty years, Ruth edited the Ski Mountaineers’ newsletter, Mugelnoos, andbriefly edited the American Alpine Club Newsfor three years. She was elected to the American Alpine Club’s board in 1974 and received their Angelo Heilprin Citation for Service. In 1987, Ruth wrote, Women on the Rocks, Way Back Then, an article about the history of women climbers in California. She noted that with the passage of time, she had advanced in status from climber to pioneer woman climber, writing:

“We didn’t think of ourselves as women climbers, but as women who liked to climb.”