Schooner Revealed

Posted on: October 6, 2008

Editor's Note: Those longtime fans of all recognize one name: Schooner, the detritus of the Alpinist community. With a hearty reminder to "keep it positive" in comments, one of our interns took the liberty to fabricate the following interview. Enjoy.

There is a person in the climbing world, a vigilante really, who has for some time kept looking over its shoulder. Schooner, the username of an individual who has in mere words ended the careers of climbers and journalists alike, has him(her?)self mostly gone under the radar. Some have claimed the anonymous marauder is simply an intern from orchestrating a smear campaign against—others, that he is some 13-year-old punk.

As a former journalist and admirer of Schooner's work, I saw an opportunity for an interview and so, on an overcast day earlier this summer, I paid a visit to the seemingly humble estate of Mr. Schooner—an old weather-worn Airstream trailer situated in his hometown of Anchorage. The old tires and massive amounts of garbage lying in his yard were no doubt a deliberate attempt to sustain a low-profile presence in his community, though such a large figure within the climbing world could not possibly be hidden by any amount of overdue energy notices plastered to his door. He greeted me that afternoon from the roving seat of his rascal scooter. "I don't need this thing, but I don't like to walk when I don't have to. Plus, this helps me save my leg strength for huge approaches."


Reputed for his straight-forward, all-business attitude toward climbing journal criticism, I was surprised to find evidence of a laid-back home life, such as one of those cool empty-liquor-bottle collections you see in college houses (defying the norm, as usual, his were scattered around various portions of the trailer). With no closets or separate rooms to speak of, I couldn't figure out where Mr. Schooner kept all of his climbing gear. "I don't have any climbing gear and I don't need any. Everything I have ever climbed, which is nearly everything, has been free soloed. Sometimes I bring rubber bands to put around my hands so that they go numb—to make things a little more challenging—but I don't consider that gear." As we sat down to conduct the interview, the ominous glow of a Mac 128K, where Schooner types out his online lashings, spread across the floor behind him.

Me: What, Mr. Schooner, would you say is your greatest contribution to alpine-related journalism?

Schooner: Would you like a scotch?

Me: No, thank you. So, back to the question of the purpose of your work.

Schooner: I'm here to remind everyone that almost all climbing endeavors are sourced entirely from vanity and complete self-obsession, and that almost none of them are worth reporting.

Me: Indeed, as is apparent from many of your remarks on's NewsWire stories. On one particular NewsWire, "Davis Free-solos 5.11 on Castleton Tower," you wrote "Please leave this type of reporting for her blog and not pollute this site with such trivial reports... she has a blog, let her spew on that." Do you believe to be reporting irrelevant climbing news?

Schooner: Buddy, have you been living under a rock? That is the sole message of my life. I dare you to find one positive remark I have left on that smoldering wasteland of a website.

Me: How did you react to editor Christian Beckwith's announcement that Alpinist will be shifting gears and moving towards becoming "a fluorescent-colored, tights-wearing sport climbing mag from the 80s"?

Schooner: I don't agree with that move at all, as I noted in my remarks on the "Davis Sends Moab Testpiece" NewsWire. I tell you here and now, Alpinism involves nothing other than huge, snow-blown, ice-ridden ascents—huge commitment and nothing else. Are you sure you wouldn't like a Scotch? I was thinking of pouring a couple.

Me: How do you respond to the notion that not all of climbing or alpinism must involve unpleasant, dangerous situations to be noteworthy?

Schooner: My philosophy is already well documented on Alpinist's website, usually in the form of snide, under-handed remarks like "Yet again and again, another piece of internationally significant ascents in the courageous world of extreme alpinism," or "Incredibly well written dispatch with internationally significant news from the cutting edge of extreme alpinism."

Me: Some people accuse you of being a self-important web troller who does nothing more than criticize others' climbing accomplishments by measuring them against your own illusory standards. Is this a fair assessment of your contributions to the climbing community?

Schooner: In a word, yes.

(At this point in our interview, a siren began sounding and flashing, and Schooner pulled a quick u-turn in his scooter over to his computer)

Me: What the hell is going on?

Schooner: I have the RSS feed hooked up so that when Alpinist posts a NewsWire, I'm immediately alerted.

(headline: "Nasa Astronauts Send 5.17c on Mars, Minor Injuries Sustained From Space Parasites)

Schooner: See, there you go. The gravitational force that those astronauts were fighting is only a fraction of the force experienced on Earth, because Mars is smaller than Earth.

(he swiveled his scooter back in my direction, with his finger to his head)

Schooner: See, I know these kinds of things because I'm smarter than those bozos they have running

Me: In a way, you really are a vigilante of the alpine journal world—your technology helps you keep a close eye on the goings on; you are obviously careful to hide your enormous talent in a shroud of mystery; you are a dark and misunderstood figure—like Batman.

Schooner: Hell no! I scale buildings twice as high as he does, and I don't need a million dollar suit either, just this pair of stinken' Hanes!

Stinking is right. At that point, he asked me to fetch him his "writing whiskey." I was unable to conclude my interview, as Schooner became enraptured in typing a new comment on the Alpinist website, thrashing and throatily growling strings of profane gibberish as he mashed his palms into the keyboard . Though it was not a pretty sight, it was still a vision of genius at work. Unfortunately, unstoppable multi-billion-dollar media forces such as Alpinist have chosen to antagonize this honest critic, featuring him on their upcoming Halloween feature "The Monsters of Alpinism." I thought hard about this as I stepped out the door to a yard full of hissing raccoons, and was happy to know that there is at least one man on this planet who will not be impressed by anything anyone ever climbs, ever. My hat is off to you, Schooner.

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Has anyone read any of Jay M Horne's books? I just finished his trilogy Life's A JOKE!, Life's A TRIP!, and I took the red pill. It is very emotional. There were times I laughed, and times I cried. There was a point in the book that I felt I had learned something that changed my life. I am not a drug user but I must say there was a point, that much like looking at illusions, made me feel there was something hiding behind the curtain of reality. Check it out at amazon. Or at jaymhorne . com you wont be dissappointed. Please lemme know what you think. I havent had anyone respond besides those who are high or drunk. Am i crazy? Or is the world actually something you creat for yourself. This guy has a serious connection with god!

2009-10-16 14:07:54

I have recently become aware of the true identity of Schooner. I will not reveal him/her, rather only remarking that the guess of state was correct, other details incorrect. May he/her mysteriously continue to berate us.

2009-02-23 08:45:08

I have recently become aware of the true identity of Schooner. I will not reveal him/her, rather only remarking that the guess of state was correct, other details incorrect. May he mysteriously continue to berate us.

2009-02-23 08:32:33

So, there I was...pounding a small bugaboo, hands shaking, into a small, crackly fissure. Certain it was only a psychological piece, similar to a tied-off twig, I tried to imbue the spirit of true alpinism and carry-on, despite uncetainty and fatigue. I gave it one last whack, another piece of dirt and crud lashed downward to my belay partner... And then I recalled the Spirit...the force of contemporary alpinism... I should untie completely; go at it solo and professing to the mountain gods my plans to climb other things. I managed to belch out a fearful cry, " I plan to go to the Trango Wall and climb the roof...I plan to ...change...the world.....I'm going to go to Patagonia! " Just as my crampon began to slip off the micro-edge and the tiniest piece of turf began to erode from my blunted pick, I thought, again...imbue the spirit of alpinism. My mind wandered briefly..."I need to begin my own website. Schooner" Becoming aware that I was in the midst of a heroic attempt at a third first ascent in contemporary style, the clouds parted and the epiphany bludgeoned me on the head...I can quit right here and rap and call it a new route, in new style. Oh, the rewards will be a cornucopia of scotch and new underwear! I am hereby proud to report a third first ascent of a world-class significant new route ... Chickaloon Hardman, formerly known as the choss pile along the road. (Grade II, E2.x, 17 metres.)

2008-10-10 22:15:37

oh I get it now. We can save the environment from Global Warming by flying around and climbing peaks. Duh, makes perfect sense. oh wait maybe the purpose was to get people to vote for Obama who is for equal rights except for the gay rich? darn naw I'm really confused. Next time I see Schooner I'll ask him what a post turtle is.

2008-10-10 15:32:20
free sender

Chewtoy, happy to see that the point of this blog was not lost on you...there are in fact, no raccoons in Alaska.

2008-10-10 00:30:05

I'm confused. I thought drinking single-malt was a hardman's calling card, that Patey style of discourse is healthy for the climbing community. Have we forgotten our history? Next thing ya know someone is going to write about how "important climbing is."

Raccoons in Anchorage? ummm I do digress, but if ya had ever done a 40 mile Alaska ski approach with Schooner, you'd know there are no raccoons in Alaska, though we occasionally get a visiting skunk.

I’m sure if ya were polite, and bought the next round, Schooner would invite ya ta go climbing in Norway (where he lives with his Swedish wife). Oh wait, you probably think, along with scotch and discourse, ice climbing in Norway and having a hot Swedish wife has become passé also.

I actually haven’t read any of Schooner’s posts, but one can assume the old gotcha game of don’t take yourself so seriously, it’s only climbing, has been spanked down and smacked up like a wart hog.

2008-10-09 17:13:55
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