Table of Contents

weekly feature

After the Expedition

In this work of short fiction from Alpinist 18, Stevenson weaves a tale about a driftless climbing guide balancing his successes "against an unwritten page of his climbing resume, against the darkness."

TOOL USERS: The Headlamp

In this Tool Users story from Alpinist 57, Paula Wright shines a light on the evolution of the headlamp. Since some climbers were still carrying flashlights in their mouths as late as the early 1970s, it seems that we have only recently emerged into a more illuminated age.

Wired: Rethinking Mountain Gloom

Dawn L. Hollis challenges the belief in academia that people did not care for mountains until they began climbing them at the end of the eighteenth century. Further, she studies why an institution such as the British Alpine Club would react so strongly against the premise that the love people have for mountains is nothing new.

Axe of Contrition

Stevenson contemplates the axe of God in this Climbing Life story from Alpinist 20.

Off Belay: Beyond Conquest

In this excerpt from Alpinist 57 Mailee Hung explores artwork by Richard T. Walker that "casts unease on traditional aspirations" and helps us consider "how to describe the aesthetic experience of climbing beyond this inherited legacy" of alpinists as conquerors.

Full Value: Degringolade

In this Full Value story from Alpinist 56 Sibylle Hechtel recounts a pivotal moment in her climbing career—her first first-ascent, in Canada's Bugaboos, 1973. She went on to become famous for the first all-female ascent of El Capitan with Beverly Johnson later that year, but her experience in the Bugs taught her "how to get up and back down" in the mountains.

2017: Ghunsa

Local guide Dawa Sherpa describes what it's like to live and work near the base of Jannu/Kumbhakarna—a mountain sacred to his culture.

Alpinist 57 Mountain Profile Essays | Jannu

Read all four essays by Graeme Dingle, Naoe Sakashita, Sergey Kofanov and Dawa Sherpa from our Mountain Profile of Jannu / Kumbhakarna in Alpinist 57—Spring 2017.

1976-2016: Jannu Remembrances

The great Japanese mountaineer Naoe Sakashita looks back on the first complete ascent of the north face of Jannu / Kumbhakarna to the summit of the 7710-meter Himalayan peak, and on his friendship with teammate Nobu-yuki Ogawa.

Our Eiger Drama

In a letter to the editor, longtime Alpinist reader Tad Welch examines our looming environmental crisis from the perspective of a roped team braving the odds on the Eiger Nordwand. He writes, "As we enter what may be one of the darkest times of our country's history, I feel an obligation to subject my most basic values to the utmost scrutiny.... I must never put my rope mates in harm's way because I expect the mountain to become benign—when history proves otherwise—simply because I think it will. Off the hill, I am roped to more than a close friend or two. A rope of seemingly infinite length connects me to strangers of all ethnicities, languages, and beliefs—and to generations yet unborn."

Lives of the Volcano Poets

The author climbs after the volcano poets. This piece originally appeared in Alpinist 40.

Local Hero: Loulou Boulaz

During the 1930s, one woman joined the race to climb the feared north faces of the Alps, venturing into terrain then believed to be reserved for only the boldest (and some claimed the most reckless) men. In this Local Hero from Alpinist 57, Sallie Greenwood looks back on the extraordinary, often-forgotten life of Swiss alpinist Louise "Loulou" Boulaz.

1975: New Zealand Expedition Jannu North Face

In 1975 New Zealand climber Graeme Dingle joined an expedition to the legendary Wall of Shadows on Jannu / Kumbhakarna, a 7710-meter peak in Nepal. High on the mountain, he looked up at an immense ice formation that seemed about to collapse. "You can't tell me those cliffs are safe," he said. "This is as far as I'm going."

2007: Open

Russian alpinist Sergey Kofanov recounts his 2007 encounter with the “cosmic cold” shoulder of Jannu, when he and Valery Babanov made the first ascent of the West Pillar in alpine style.

The Precarious World—The Sharp End, Alpinist 57

At a time when the word precarious is used increasingly to describe many aspects of our current existence, Katie Ives reflects on the differences between confronting risk in the mountains and responding to much vaster political and ecological uncertainties in the US and the world. "I think now, especially with climate change, we are without a doubt living in a precarious world," climber and environmental advocate Laura Waterman tells her. "We have to make the right decisions, ethically, as best we can."

The Glass Mountain: A Fable

During the nineteenth century, Jim Bridger was well known for tall tales about the ranges of the American West. Herein, the modern climbing writer Jeff Long retells Bridger's attempt on "Glass Mountain," examining the aspirations and consequences of frontier mythology.

On Belay: A Thousand Days of Lapis Lazuli

After ten years as a boulderer, Keita Kurakami attempts what some other local climbers called impossible: a new free route on the daunting 110-meter Moai Face of Mt. Mizugaki. When he succeeded in July of last year, it turned out to be the hardest multipitch trad climb in Japan at 5.14a R/X.

On Belay: Unattached

In this On Belay article from Alpinist 57, Anna Pfaff describes her adventures as she becomes "unattached" from maps, expectations and conventions and learns to find her own way into some of the unknown realms beyond.