Swaramandal

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Swaramandal

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Pat Ament (and Bob Dylan), Yosemite Camp 4, 1967

Book By Pat Ament, Vitaar Publishing, Boulder, Colorado, 1973

Swaramandal is a window into the fierce, pathetic, warm and comic ways of several personalities on the stage of American rock climbing. It is a portrait of Layton Kor, like a python, drawing out a lie from Ament and of Kor's later unexplainable conversion to the Jehovah Witnesses; of Royal Robbins and his kingly bent exposed in a letter to the young Ament, "Your ability to think logically is improving, though occasionally I spot a non-sequitur"; of Chuck Pratt writing elegant prose and wrestling with nightmares and beer bouts; of the rare laugh of Dave Rearick, his piercing intelligence and unique gift to Pat of a wooden, Osage-orange nut; of the strong silence clouding the person of John Gill, and the reserve barely veiling feverish passion for perfection; of Peter Haan's explosive tantrums; of my own sentimentality.

The book is also a journey into the personal growth of the author. We follow Ament from an early egotistical preoccupation with achievement ("Bragging myself into oblivion" and fighting "an evil which must be excoriated") to a later period when there are "too many songs to sing" and "too many people who mean too much to me."