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The High Sierra  By  cover art

The High Sierra

By: Kim Stanley Robinson
Narrated by: Kim Stanley Robinson
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Publisher's Summary

A “sublime” and “radically original” exploration of the Sierra Nevadas, the best mountains on Earth for hiking and camping, from New York Times best-selling novelist Kim Stanley Robinson (Bill McKibben, Gary Snyder).

Kim Stanley Robinson first ventured into the Sierra Nevada mountains during the summer of 1973. He returned from that encounter a changed man, awed by a landscape that made him feel as if he were simultaneously strolling through an art museum and scrambling on a jungle gym like an energized child. He has returned to the mountains throughout his life—more than a hundred trips—and has gathered a vast store of knowledge about them. The High Sierra is his lavish celebration of this exceptional place and an exploration of what makes this span of mountains one of the most compelling places on Earth.

Over the course of a vivid and dramatic narrative, Robinson describes the geological forces that shaped the Sierras and the history of its exploration, going back to the indigenous peoples who made it home and whose traces can still be found today. He celebrates the people whose ideas and actions protected the High Sierra for future generations. He describes uniquely beautiful hikes and the trails to be avoided. Robinson’s own life-altering events, defining relationships, and unforgettable adventures form the narrative’s spine. And he illuminates the human communion with the wild and with the sublime, including the personal growth that only seems to come from time spent outdoors.

The High Sierra is a gorgeous, absorbing immersion in a place, born out of a desire to understand and share one of the greatest rapture-inducing experiences our planet offers. Packed with maps, gear advice, more than 100 breathtaking photos, and much more, it will inspire veteran hikers, casual walkers, and travel enthusiasts to prepare for a magnificent adventure. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2022 Little, Brown & Company

Critic Reviews

“Kim Stanley Robinson shows us that the best hiking mountains on earth are the earth itself. Learning how to make anything into materials for our sleep, shelter, yoga, or crazy concentration, hunting, gathering, and laughing. Being both empty and full. Stan Robinson's radically original vision of nature itself makes the world wild.” (Gary Snyder, author of The Practice of the Wild)

"The High Sierra: A Love Story is exactly that, a passionate bow to one of the great mountain ranges in the world. The power of Kim Stanley Robinson's imagination is known to us as his faithful readers. But what emerges as a surprise in this memoir of place is how he comes to know what he knows from the ground upward. With over 100 trips etched on to the soles of his feet, we witness a man in love with the world, both human and wild. We are taken into the open heart of his storytelling, that carries his awe and wonder and knife-edged perceptions into a reimagining of geologic time through the physical ground truthing of his body. I loved this book—just as I loved The Ministry for the Future. They are companion volumes as to why we should care about this beautiful, broken world we call home.” (Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion: Essays of Undoing)

“This is a sublime book; maybe not since Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra has anyone managed to convey in words the sheer exhilaration that pours from this most charmed of American landscapes. Robinson provides a wonderfully readable biography of a place—but also a revealing autobiography of one of our most important and delightful writers.” (Bill McKibben, best-selling author of The End of Nature and Falter)

What listeners say about The High Sierra

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Disappointed in the judgmental tone

I love parts of this book, though the structure was clunky. The writer’s description of Sierra days and the unique magic of the area is worth reading, especially for those who also love the mountains. However, the preachy, condescending tone of much of writing about people on the Muir Trail, the ultralight ethos, and any wilderness that wasn’t the High Sierra was completely off-putting and ultimately made me give up on the book. Not everyone has the privilege of growing up in California and spending years of their lives learning about backpacking, or the resources, time, or knowledge to go ultralight. Everyone should be welcomed to engage with the Sierra and wilderness in their own way (provided they aren’t harming the wilderness or anyone else, of course). Save the judgement next time and focus on what sharing what’s wonderful about the Sierra, instead of gatekeeping and intimidating people from trying it.

55 people found this helpful

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Great book

Makes the outdoors come alive 👍 Stan shares a lifetime with the reader. superbly written

5 people found this helpful

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Sad that reality was not in the end better and stranger than fiction

another first person in my mountains. Not the wide eyed Muir of my first summer in the Sierra.
I missed the mágico I knew was there..I loved the bear but did you feel -his smell -his earth and pine essence? Maybe, I should have read it…

5 people found this helpful

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Required reading for Sierra-philes

Kim Stanley Robinson evokes the magical distinctiveness of these mountains with a blend of natural and human history that weaves these mountains into his own life in a narrative that is involving and fun, made more personal by Robinson’s narration. Not since Colin Fletcher’s books of the 1970’s has such an effective invitation to the wilds, on foot, been given us. Three cheers!

4 people found this helpful

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Total must for every Sierra lover

I have been backpacking for decades but overwhelmingly on trail. His knowledge, humor, sense of adventure, encouragement, and stories are great. I loved listening and I am inspired to expand my trail repertoire

3 people found this helpful

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Gem of a book!

For anyone who loves the High Sierra and for lovers of mountains and wilderness in general, this book is a gem. It covers Sierra geology, history, people, flora and fauna, place names, and much about the author’s personal experiences in the high county. It is beautifully written and is indeed a love story. The author’s love for this magnificent range of mountains comes through loud and clear. Because this is a very personal account in many ways, the author also makes probably the best possible reader. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader and have only read a couple of the Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels, but this book will always hold a special place in my heart.

3 people found this helpful

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Just what I needed to listen to

KSR continues to be one of my favorite writers, and this thoughtful novel only strengthens my feelings toward his writing

2 people found this helpful

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self important and offensive

I clawed my way through this because I wasn't going to let a good credit go to waste. if not for my bull-headedness, I would have bailed half way in. this is less about how much KSR loves the Sierras than it is about criticizing people who "do them the wrong way." write about your own experiences, don't trash mine. welcome to love letters 101. I do not recommend this book to anyone, which is too bad as I think the author has produced some quality fiction. read that and forget this holier-than-thou memoir.

1 person found this helpful

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FaBuLouS!

As usuaL KMS takes a potentially dry subject and turns it into a beautiFuL thoughtFuL journey. Moving deftly between all the realms of existence from existenTiaL to Prosaic with grace and warmth and adventure.
Love it!

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Egocentric boomer.

The descriptions of the Sierra and it’s history are great. The adventure stories are mostly fun. The self-indulgent opining on renaming, ironic advocacy for protecting the environment, and self-involved navel gazing… less so.