We Aspired

The Last Innocent Americans

Imbued with a sense of place, Pete Sinclair climbed mountains and rescued others trying the same. He thrived on the risky business of ascending sheer rock, of moving from one adrenaline-boosting moment to another. In this book he recounts his mountain-climbing and park ranger days from 1959 to 1970, a time some people call a golden era of climbing in America, a time when climbers knew one another and frequently gathered in Grand Teton National Park. There, Sinclair was the ranger in charge of mountain rescue, a job that, especially when it involved the North Face of Grand Teton, drew on all his young team’s climbing skills. Mixing adventure with personal reflection, Sinclair recounts expeditions taken with friends to scale mountains in Alaska, Mexico, and other parts of North America, as well as his work rescuing injured climbers in the Tetons. The book serves as a history of a past era in mountaineering as well as a meditation on what it all meant. Throughout the book, he challenges readers to consider their relationship with the western landscape. Originally published in 1993, We Aspired was a finalist for the Boardman-Tasker Award for Mountain Literature. The account of one famous rescue on the North Face of the Grand Teton is retold in The Grand Rescue, a film by independent Utah producer Jenny Wilson. 

Pete Sinclair (1935–2015) was a professor of English at Evergreen State College in Washington. A recipient of the Department of Interior Valor Award, he was the ranger-in-charge of mountain rescue in Grand Teton National Park and founding chief guide of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides in the 1960s. 

Praise and Reviews:

“Pete Sinclair faces the high stakes of a sport that deals out life and death both on the mountain and among personal relationships. An honest and refreshing addition to the American mountain canon.”
—Mikel Vause, author of On Mountains and Mountaineers and editor of Rock and Roses

“Sinclair’s dramatic, well-told narrative encompasses a climb up Mt. McKinley in Alaska, a sometimes perilous trek to Mexico, and many tales of life as a ranger, including some poignant and not always successful rescue efforts.”
Publisher’s Weekly