work journal

Book recommendation: A Fine Line by Graham Zimmerman

October 16, 2023

I met Graham Zimmerman in 2009, when we were teammates on the search and rescue team in Tuolumne Meadows, the high country of Yosemite National Park. 

Graham has remained one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders in work and life, so it’s with great pleasure that I cheer for his most recent accomplishment, A Fine Line: Searching for Balance Among Mountains, from Mountaineers Books.

The book traces Graham’s journey as an alpinist, from tales of early luck and scary accidents to his lauded climb of Link Sar in the Pakistani Karakoram, from the dating foibles of a young climber to his marriage to the phenomenal Shannon McDowell, and from working geology surveys in Eritrea to his role today as a leader with Protect Our Winters and the president of the American Alpine Club.

I’ve long seen climbing as a metaphor for life, and this book, which I devoured in a day, lent perspective to my own adventures and challenges in the 15 years since we lived in neighboring tents.

In Graham’s words:

“As I looked down the West Ridge of Chogori, I knew that despite the frustration I felt [at not reaching the summit], this was another lesson in humility that I would process in time and reflect upon for the rest of my life.”

Photos below are from climbing the Harding Route on the 1,200-foot southwest face of Mount Conness in the High Sierra, California, with Graham in 2009.

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