Book Review: “The Cold Vanish”

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Book Review: “The Cold Vanish”

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  • #3680398
    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Unpacked is a new column from Backpacking Light by outdoor writer, gear tester, and librarian Mark Wetherington. In this installment, he reviews “The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands,” by Jon Billman.


    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    I’m putting this on my reading list for sure. Sounds like an awesome read. Thanks for this, Mark! Looking forward to your future columns.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    This is a totally haunting book. It should be on every backpacker’s reading list, if for nothing else than to improve your own self-awareness in the backcountry.

    Steve E


    I’ve been meaning to read this — if I dared — after hearing a podcast with the author. Just downloaded it. Thanks for the bracing encouragement….

    J David Sullivan
    BPL Member


    Locale: Deep South

    It’s now on my reading list; but should I read it while on my next solo hike or while in the relative safety of my home. I know a lot of people who hear the nighttime “stick breakers,” get out of their tent, pack up, and head back to their vehicle in the middle of the night. While I’m not one of those people, I’m wondering if I should increase my melatonin before bed after I read it … ha!

    Mark Wetherington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Montana

    Good question — I read the book at home, but it did make me an impression on me when I went out on my next solo trip. I’m also not one of the “stick breaks, abandon camp!” type of folks either, but for some reason this book did make me feel a bit less comfortable with solo off-trail travel and its potential consequences.

    I’d say it’s a good read wherever, but maybe some extra melatonin or just making sure you have your safety plan dialed in would be sufficient — either PLB or detailed itinerary with a reliable person.

    d k
    BPL Member


    I was able to find this e-book at my library and just finished reading it.  Terrific read.  I have always been intrigued by the stories of disappeared hikers, and it was interesting to read about some of those mysteries being resolved…as well as some that still aren’t.

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