Book Report: Fall of the Phantom Lord

On a recent trip to Lake Placid, my girlfriend and I stopped by The Mountaineer in Keene, NY.  It was a very cool shop that carried a great variety of outdoor product.  They had everything from Splitboards to rock climbing gear.  However, what impressed me most was their extensive collection of books.  I am an avid reader of mountain literature and I love to peruse the mountaineering book aisles at any store, whether it be Barnes and Noble or REI.  The Mountaineer had the best book section that I had seen since a visit a few years back to Marmot Mountain Works in Berkely, California. 

I am incapable of visiting a store with such an amazing book section and not purchasing something.  I stumbled across Fall of the Phantom Lord by Andrew Todhunter at The Mountaineer, and as it was a title I had never seen, I became curious and bought it.

Fall of the Phantom Lord is a story about the late Dan Osman who gained notoriety for his bold solos and long rope jumps featured in The Masters of Stone videos.  Osman’s seemingly fearless personality and rock and roll persona made him possibly one of the first truly mainstream climbers.  He was on MTV and featured in numerous other mainstream media.  Fall of the Phantom Lord seeks to explore the psyche of a personality such as Osman, and what drives them to live a life so close to the edge.

While at times I felt that the author interjected himself into the story too much, sometimes making the book more about himself than Osman, I did enjoy reading this book.  Despite being over twelve years old, the book does not seem dated and the overall theme of the book (risk versus reward) is very intact and current with what is happening in today’s climbing community.

If you are looking for a book that is an interesting read and very different from the Himalayan/Expedition books that seem to dominate mountain literature today, pick up Fall of the Phantom Lord.  It is an interesting story that asks an interesting question, and is based on the truly unique and interesting characters of modern mountaineering/climbing.

Remastered clip of Dan Osman from Masters of Stone Five:

If you can not make it to The Mountaineer, check it out on Amazon: