Snowbound is a fascinating tale of survival and difficult decisions in the often unforgiving wilderness. The story takes place in 1893 and follows the Carlin party into the vast Bitterroot mountains, hoping to get in some good hunting. Record snow fall, bad luck, and poor planning lead to a decision that still raises controversy to this day.
If you haven’t ever heard of the book, don’t let that stop you from getting your hands on it. Published by the smaller Washington State University Press, which is probably the reason it didn’t get nearly the circulation that the other books on this site received. This does not take away from the book one bit; it is well written and very easy to read.
Being an avid camper and hiker I can understand how quickly things can go bad. I have camped in the Bitteroots with my dad and brother, and they can be cold, rugged, and unforgiving. Snowbound does and excellent job of not only putting the reader in the environment, but also giving you a good feel for the types of personalities that entered these tough areas during those times.
In a day and age of rescue helicopters and massive road infrastructure it is difficult to imagine the isolation that the Carlin party went through. The struggles they went through really got to me and I continued to ponder what happened and the decisions they made for quite some time after I finished reading Snowbound.
Overall the story of their fight for survival is a fascinating one and Ladd Hamilton documented it very well. Since it is an easy read I highly recommend it to anyone interested in mountain survival stories. Snowbound doesn’t mess with a bunch of background stories or build up to the event, but instead jumps right into the expedition early on and keeps on story throughout.