In an excerpt from his book Drawn: The Art of Ascent, the artist Jeremy Collins ventures to Canada's Northwest Territories with Jeff Achey, James "Q" Martin and Pat Goodman. Amid the cold stone of the Far North, Collins searches for healing after the death of his friend, Jonny Copp.
Fifty issues deep, and we're still pushing for the infinite summit. The irrepressible Tami Knight directs a romp back through the years, with essays by Christian Beckwith, Leo Houlding, Andrew Burr, Emilie Lee, Majka Burhardt, Andreas Schmidt, Jack Tackle, Barry Blanchard and Kyle Dempster—and imagery from more than a decade in print.
Perhaps more than any peak in the Mont Blanc massif, the twin-summited Aiguille du Dru symbolizes the evolution of technical alpinism. Herein, Ian Parnell recalls the avant-garde climbs of the earliest pioneers, with the help of Claude Gardien, Sylvain Jouty and Jeff Mercier.
SEPTEMBER 22, 1871, WAS ONE of those magical autumn days, when your gaze pierces farther than usual across the crystalline air. Mists had already consumed the valleys, obscuring most signs of human presence—apart from the occasional plume of distant smoke that rose straight up.
DURING THE 1980S, WHEN I was the editor-in-chief of the French magazine Alpinisme et Randonnee, I spent several days in Grenoble each year for an international trade show. My meetings were exhausting work, happily interrupted by visits with good friends, which allowed me to forget, for an hour or two, everything that the show signified: that the mountains had become a business and that we—the journalists, the guides and the technical consultants—were all part of it.
IN 1952 A SPIRE of monolithic granite presented a high challenge to the climbers of the day—a dare that the setting sun outlined each evening, illuminating its burnished slabs with a red flash that no alpinist could ignore. The West Face of the Drus had a reputation for invincibility. "There, in any case, is something that will never be vanquished by man," declared Pierre Allain, who had observed the 1000-meter wall during his first ascent of the North Face in 1935.
LIKE A LIGHTHOUSE DOMINATING the sea.... The Sea of Ice. The Drus seem to have conquered the Mer de Glace and stilled its waves, until the glacier no longer dares defy their steep mountain walls. Large pale stains, signs of recent rockfall, gleam like salt crystals deposited during some earlier epoch when the Sea of Ice flowed powerful and high, before it began to die down and to draw back, slowly and gently, leaving behind only vile shores of scree. Tourists arrive in uninterrupted floods to view Mont Blanc—merely to find its pallid summit drowned in a mass of satellite peaks, the Dome du Gouter and the Mont Maudit. The Drus, on the other hand, visible from nearly everywhere in the valley, their shape so easy to describe, are unmissable. You might say that a good portion of our planet's inhabitants has seen them, if only from the seats of cars.
In the spring of 2014, a couple of forty-something, Dr. Seuss-reading family men from Colorado, Ryan Jennings and Kevin Cooper, confront falling ice, homesickness and continual runouts on the direct north face of Mt. Johnson in Alaska's Ruth Gorge—the same arena that nearly killed them eleven years before.
Popular books recount the early days of Canadian mountaineering as a story of epic discoveries. Historians Zac Robinson and Stephen Slemon examine what often gets left out: the extent to which the "explorers" relied on the prior geographic knowledge of Indigenous guides.
On April 25, a few days before we went to press, we heard the news of the Nepal earthquake. Our prayers go out to all those affected.
These are not just memories. They are the core samples of our lives, and if I look, I see a clear connection between what we dreamed about back then, and who we have become now.— Peter Croft, Alpinist X
David Pickford travels back in memory from the desert rock of Jabal Misht to the sandstone cliffs of the Cederberg mountains, to explore what makes climbing unique—far from today's madding, social-media-addicted crowd.
If you're lucky, you own a copy of the 1964 A Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley—Steve Roper's seminal "Red Guide." Shey Kiester unearths Valley lore to reveal the genesis of Roper's creation, and how it changed climbing in Yosemite and throughout America.
Helen Mort is put in place by birds. Brad Rassler Seeks the difference between majesty and glory. Matt Samet cleans out his crag pack... mindfully. Chris Kalman extolls muddy trails and roadless wilds. And James Edward Mills' hero finds his calling in a crevasse.