Although we have taken many beautiful things (and memories) with us from San Francisco when we visited two weeks ago, one of our favorite things we discovered is the extraordinary book ‘California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties’. Combining both color and black and white imagery gathered from a variety of photographers and private collections, the publication by the expert when it comes to the subject; T. Adler, paints a undeniably appealing picture of an exciting era full of experiment and evolution. Aside from the wide selection of archival photographs, the book features short passages written by Yvon Chouinard, Steve Pezman and Steve Roper, which give personal accounts of what was happening at the time and help to bring the images to life. Each photo is also extensively captioned, noting the individuals involved and their influence on these sports throughout the Fifties and beyond. This information adds an interesting layer of depth and personality to the publication, which ultimately serves as an evocative look back at a golden age, and the growth of two archetypical Californian countercultures. We love this elegant and insightful gem!
The photographs in ‘California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties’ include images of legendary surfers such as Joe Quigg, Tom Zahn, Dale Velzy and Renny Yater, in locations such as Rincon, Malibu, South Bay, Laguna and San Onofre; and famous climbers such as Warren Harding, Royal Robbins and Wayne Merry among others, photographed mostly in the Yosemite Valley by the likes of Bob Swift, Alan Steck, Jerry Gallwas and Frank Hoover. Soaked in surf, sun and adrenaline, the photographs in California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties depict the birth of an era and an exhilarating moment in Californian history.
Rock climber and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard on ‘California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties’:
The Fifties were easy years in California. With full employment from the Korean War, we were enjoying all the fruits of the fossil fuel culture. Gas was a quarter a gallon, used cars could be bought for twenty-five dollars, campgrounds were free, and you could easily live off the excess fat of society. Those of us in the countercultures of climbing and surfing were, as climber Peter Sinclair said, the last free Americans.
T. Adler Books is a highly inspirational boutique publisher specializing in visual publications on surfing and rock climbing. Its founder, Tom Adler, is a noted art director, graphic designer, and publisher who explores the history of both hobbies through stunning photography, compelling contextual information, and skillful book design; best known for his work with blue chip surf photographers such as Don James and Jeff Divine. T. Adler Books has gone on to produce a small run of equally handsome photographic collections, including ‘Dora Lives: The Authorized Story of Miki Dora’ (2005), ‘Surfing Photographs From the Seventies Taken by Jeff Divine’ (2007), ‘Surf Contest: Photographs by Ron Church’ (2009), and ‘The Plight of the Torpedo People’ (2013), to which last year ‘California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties’ was added. Adler has also done design work for Quiksilver, Patagonia and Polo.