Why Mark Westman should be famous (A postscript to Alpinist 19). May's everlasting sun hovered in a low, lateral arc over the Alaska Range, bathing the massive peaks in fiery light. Waves of clouds washed up the Kahiltna Glacier and flooded the lower mountains in an ever-darkening fog.
For our Climbing Life department in Alpinist 55, high school student Kai Lightner writes about his first multipitch traditional climb on Stone Mountain, with Yosemite pioneer Doug Robinson. For more, wide-ranging stories from our print magazine contributors, pick up a copy of Alpinist 55.
After climbing classics every day," Doug Robinson recalls, "it was easy to assume that the great lines had all been snatched up. Our steps turned homeward, with lingering views of the great Cirque vanishing over Warbonnet's shoulder. One last wall, Sundance Pinnacle, hesitated our footfall." In this essay, Robinson recalls his first, first ascent in 1966.
"There is glacial power in language, in naming things. I am here because my mother gave me a vocabulary for motion," poet Devi Lockwood writes about her experiences growing up as the daughter of a mountaineer—in this essay for Alpinist 55. Subscribe today or preorder at the Alpinist.com store.
Eminent chronicler of the Wind River Mountains Joe Kelsey searches for the "last Unclimbed Wind River" peak—a quest inspired by an episode with his climbing partner, Paul Horton, on an obscure and seemingly unvisited summit: "As Paul led toward a chimney on the final pitch, he let out an equivocal chuckle.... 'What?' 'A piton.'"
Before she and Bev Johnson made the first female ascent of El Capitan, Sibylle Hechtel lead her first unclimbed big wall in the Wind Rivers: "Dick handed me our minimal gear, pointed, and said, "Just head up that corner until you get to a good ledge, and set up a belay.' I gulped."
Bill Lindberg and I are several pitches up a narrow couloir on the north side of Mt. Helen. A thick, even ribbon of white divides the tawny-grey granite walls that rise steeply above us on either side. The granular, late-season ice accepts the picks of our piolets and rigid crampon points perfectly. Thus far, the climb has been so straightforward that we might have rehearsed it ahead of time; we are both exhilarated to be moving rapidly on an unclimbed alpine line." In 1971, two climbers put new alpine gear to the test on what was the first ascent of Mt. Helen's now-classic ice couloir.
In 1969, at the age of 18, Jeff Lowe climbs "like a light-footed wolf" on Haystack Mountain.
In "Typologies of Silence," the Sharp End article for Alpinist 55, Editor-in-chief Katie Ives discusses some of the muted stories in accounts of early American mountaineering—as well as the efforts to create a more inclusive history today.
Read all seven essays by Royal Robbins, Doug Robinson, Jeff Lowe, Raymond G. Jacquot, Sibylle Hechtel, Joe Kelsey and Dick Dorworth from the Mountain Profile of the Wind River Range. —Ed.
Dick Dorworth reflects on the changes that the last forty-five years have brought to the Wind River Range: "On a clear day, the surface of Lonesome Lake reflects the sweeping silver walls of the Cirque of Towers, a glacier-polished mirror to the climber who cares (dares?) to gaze into it and to take those visions back to the larger world."
Royal Robbins recounts a sojourn to the Winds in 1964: "Two things that you don't usually find in the Sierra, but that you can expect in the Wind Rivers, are a thick population of mosquitoes and bad weather in the summer. Also, in certain areas you may encounter enormous herds of sheep."