Finding Everett Ruess

Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer by David Roberts

This is an account of the (short) life of Everett Ruess, his disappearance, and attempts to find him both at the time and in very modern times. To this date this has never been explained. I became interested in Ruess, probably like many people, after reading John Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild’ which covers the life and death in the wilderness of Christopher McCandless. Everett Ruess has similarities and differences with McCandless. He grew up in the 1920s and disappeared in southern Utah in 1934. Unlike McCandless he was not estranged from his family. He also had some ambition and perhaps talent as a painter and writer. He certainly made himself known to many famous cultural figures of the era; eg meeting Ansel Adams and being photographed by Dorothea Lange. I can appreciate his journeying through very remote places and enjoying the wilderness, which at that time was very remote. I’ve visited the areas he enjoyed and they are very spectacular. It is interesting that he has never been found. My view is that given his general risk taking and many near accidents he fell to his death in a remote crevice that is still remote or covered by Lake Powell, though I understand there are arguments against this.

The section on the discovery of remains in 2008 that were initially thought to be his was interesting not least because of the insight this gave into Native American attitudes to death and burials. (In fact these remains were found not be those of Reuss.)

For a general description of Ruess’s life, work and his disappearance, this is a useful account.

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