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Illusion Dweller

The Climbing Life of Stimson Bullitt

  • 160 pages
  • Mountaineers Books
  • 978-1-59485-774-4
  • Nov 20, 2013


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“A lovely mix of recollections coupled with erudite reflections of an at-times almost too-openly-honest elder.” — Tom Hornbein, author of Everest: The West Ridge

* A moving recollection of a life inspired by climbing and redeemed by nature
* Stimson Bullitt came to climbing late in life, but with a passion that put him on rock well into his 80s
* A memoir that  teaches all of us something about aging with both power and grace

Stimson Bullitt was born into a privileged and influential Seattle family, a position he did not always find comfortable.   He showed his black-sheep tendencies when, after graduating from Yale University, he rode the rails to come back West, where he worked in Central Washington orchards and on a highway crew at Chinook Pass. Later he became a skilled lawyer, a champion of civil and environmental causes, and president of King Broadcasting, the communications empire built by his mother, Dorothy Stimson Bullitt.

While he was always drawn to the mountains, it wasn’t until Bullitt reached his 50s and 60s that he sought challenges on North America’s formidable peaks, including Denali and Mount Rainier. Not until he was 70 did he take up rock climbing, but it became a match and foil for his passions and, at times, his inner demons.

Illusion Dweller, named after a particularly hard-earned and difficult climb (5.10b) at Joshua tree, is Bullitt’s climbing memoir, published posthumously and based on his own detailed manuscript. He climbed until just before his death at age 89. His achievements serve as inspiration to climbers of any age — and to anyone striving to retain or acquire a spirit of adventure later in life.

Legends and LoreThis title is part of our LEGENDS AND LORE series. Click here > to learn more.


  • 160 pages
  • Mountaineers Books
  • 978-1-59485-774-4
  • Nov 20, 2013

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