End of the Rope journeys through mountains, marriage and motherhood 

Mountain culture book reviews for the local on your holiday list

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Mountain book End of the Rope is an outdoor adventure memoir to add to your reading list.
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  • Mountain book End of the Rope is an outdoor adventure memoir to add to your reading list.

Jan Redford discovered her passion for rock climbing and the outdoors when she was 14, declaring in her diary that she would someday become a climber.

In End of the Rope, Mountains, Marriage and Motherhood, Redford tells the story of her love for climbing and the choices she makes as a result of that passion.

From her early 20s as a cussing, non-leg-shaving, tough chick intent on being accepted in the male-dominated climbing world, to her struggles as a young mother married to a fellow climber and logger who dismisses her dream of going to university, End of the Rope is a story of acceptance and belief in one's own strengths.

Trust is a theme woven throughout End of the Rope. As a young woman climber Redford is desperate to prove she is athletic, capable and desirable. She embeds herself in climbing culture where life is defined by crash-pad living and the pursuit of one rock pitch after another.

Learning to trust herself and her own abilities is illusive as she shirks off expectations from her family and cycles through seasonal jobs and bounces between relationships with larger-than-life climbing dudes. But Redford is quickly thrust into being a grown-up when her boyfriend Dan is killed in a climbing accident.

In her grief she finds comfort with one of Dan's friends, a man who balances climbing with working as a logger. She becomes pregnant and married and quickly discovers that the early passion she shared with her husband is tainted by his old-fashioned belief that a woman's place is in the home.

With two young children to care for, Redford follows her husband to Golden, B.C. As she navigates their rustic life in the mountains, overwhelmed by raising two small children, chopping wood, and hauling water, her isolation grows and her dream of going to university seems less and less achievable. Instead of trusting herself and being happy, she is dependent on her husband and more and more disillusioned about their future.

Drawing on her resilience as a climber, Redford forms a bond with several other women in Golden who inspire one another to push past their individual challenges to achieve their goals. With the support of her new sisterhood and Redford's own vow not to end up like her mother, a dutiful wife whose own choices took second place to Redford's father's, she is determined to gain the financial means to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.

In End of the Rope, Redford demonstrates her strength as a writer as she explores with honesty and rawness her own passions, weaknesses and the life choices she's made. Redford's gritty descriptions of absolute fear clinging to the side of a mountain transported me right beside her on rock and I'll admit to rolling my eyes during her years of youthful abandon when crush-fixated choices led her to bed-down with yet another detached male climbing icon.

As a fan of women's outdoor adventure memoir, I enjoyed reading End of the Rope. It's a big read, ideal for evenings curled up by the fire, and it delivers a truthful, intimate story that will inspire anyone who tags along for the journey.

Nicola Bentley lives in Whistler and enjoys reading and writing and playing outdoors.

This is the final mountain culture book review in Pique's series leading up to the holidays. To see them all visit piquenewsmagazine.com.

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