* A cultural pilgrimage as well as an athletic one
* Story blends personal adventure, middle-aged angst, the beauty of a landscape, history of exploration, and mysteries of the rise and fall of an ancient culture
* By a critically acclaimed travel and adventure writer also famous for his exploits in Alaska's mountains
* Includes photos by Greg Child of the landscape, Anasazi and Navajo ruins and rock art
On September 1, 2004, three middle-aged buddies set out on one of the last geographic challenges never before attempted in North America: to hike the Comb Ridge in one continuous push. The Comb is an upthrust ridge of sandstone-virtually a mini-mountain range-that stretches almost unbroken for a hundred miles from just east of Kayenta, Arizona, to some ten miles west of Blanding, Utah. To hike the Comb is to run a gauntlet of up-and-down severities, with the precipice lurking on one hand, the fiendishly convoluted bedrock slab on the other-always at a sideways, ankle-wrenching pitch. There is not a single mile of established trail in the Comb's hundred-mile reach.
The friends were David Roberts, writer, adventurer, famed mountaineer of decades past, at age 61 the graybeard of the bunch; Greg Child, renowned mountaineer and rock climber, age 47; and Vaughn Hadenfeldt, a wilderness guide intimately acquainted with the canyonlands, age 53. They came to the Comb not only for the physical challenge, but to seek out seldom-visited ruins and rock art of the mysterious Anasazi culture. Each brought his own emotions on the journey; the Comb Ridge would test their friendship in ways they had never before experienced.
Searching for the stray arrowhead half-smothered in the sand or for the faint markings on a far sandstone boulder that betokened a little-known rock art panel, becomes a competitive sport for the three friends. Along the way, they ponder the mystery, bringing the accounts of early and modern explorers and archaeologists to bear: Who were the vanished...