Review of the First Edition by APPALACHIA, the journal of the Appalachian Mountain Club........(unabridged except where reviewer quotes the author)
If you've ever looked out from a New Hampshire summit and wondered, "What mountain is that?" you should procure a copy of Brent Scudder's WHITE MOUNTAIN VIEWING GUIDE.
This unique book is a throwback to the guidebooks of the late nineteenth century, which focused more on appreciation of summit views than descriptions of routes to the top. The most popular of these, Moses F. Sweetser's THE WHITE MOUNTAINS: A HANDBOOK FOR TRAVELLERS, featured elaborate view descriptions and a half dozen panoramic sketches. In early days APPALACHIA printed a number of view sketches by members. This tradition was carried into the early 1900s with the elegant panoramas of E.G. Chamberlain.
Scudder has resurrected this fine art, which, with a few exceptions, has been missing from our modern day guide books. The meat of this book is a series of precise panoramic diagrams depicting the views from forty New Hampshire summits and three more just outside the state. These were developed over a twenty-five-year period using slides taken from the peaks on crystal clear days..
The diagrams are detailed and accurate and will delight and inform even the most seasoned tramper. Each provides names, elevations and distances of visible features to all points of the compass. Having once compiled a crude panorama of the view from a favorite vantage, this reviewer can attest to the painstaking work required. To create more than forty of these was truly a labor of love.
The book includes mountains all across the state, from the Monadnocks and Blue Job in the south to Sugarloaf and Magalloway in the North Country. About two dozen are in the White Mountains proper. These include such obvious favorites as Moosilauke, Lafayette and Washington, but also lower perches like Black Cap (near North Conway) and Loon Mountain's Middle Peak, and the remote wilderness watchtowers of Bond, Carraigain, Isolation and the Horn.
Supplementing the diagrams are prose characterizations of the summits and views. Though some readers may find the writing overly enthusiastic, these minilessons in geography are quite entertaining and informative. There are also interesting appendices, including one on "forecasting excellent visibility." As a trained meteorologist, Scudder knows where-of he speaks.
The book is a bit too big to stuff into a pack pocket, but once you've bought the book, it's easy enough to bring a photocopy of the relevant panorama when trekking to a featured summit. In his introduction, Scudder writes," I hope that the skyline diagrams...will amply reward your hiking experience." They will indeed. This book deserves a wide circulation among White Mountain Hikers. Steven D. Smith
Review of the First Edition by WINDSWEPT, the quarterly bulletin of the Mount Washington Observatory
Mountain travelers who always look forward to the challenge of recognizing distant points from lofty peaks will find a treasure trove in Brent Scudder's WHITE MOUNTAIN VIEWING GUIDE. Scudder, a meteorologist by profession, is also an avid hiker, and likes to know what he is looking at when he enjoys the view from a high mountain. His GUIDE, evidently the fruit of years of effort with hiking boots, camera and computer, includes narrative descriptions of the character of 43 summits which are within or which have views of the White Mountains, from Pack Monadnock in southern New Hampshire to Quebec's Mont Megantic. The special feature of the GUIDE, though, is the 43 line drawings of the 360 degree panorama from each of the featured peaks, highlighting distant points, their elevation and their distance.
For those who fear that they may be disappointed by a gloomy or hazy day atop the high peaks, Scudder has used his meteorological knowledge and experience to provide a brief but intriguing appendix on how to forecast a 12-hour or longer period of high visibility atop Mount Washington. By following his six rules, says Scudder, one can predict with 95% accuracy a period when summit viewing will be spectacular.
Scudder's WHITE MOUNTAIN VIEWING GUIDE is obviously a labor of real love, and fills a vacant niche in White Mountain guidebooks. It will certainly be much appreciated by the many hikers (and tram riders too) who want to know more about exactly what they are seeing from lofty viewpoints.