After steadily improving their time on each speed ascent over the past several weeks, Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold have achieved their goal of climbing El Capitan's Nose in under two hours—1 hour, 58 minutes, 7 seconds, to be exact.
In this story from Alpinist 61, Douglas McCarty recalls his adventures on the road with Fred Beckey, which started in 1972 when McCarty and a friend hopped a freight train from Montana to Seattle, where the 17-year-olds subsequently met Beckey. Since then, McCarty joined the legendary mountaineer on trips to Alaska, China, Kenya, Mexico and Tanzania, with urban bivies at public parks in between.
In this feature story from Alpinist 61, Eileen Guo recounts some of the history of mountaineering in Afghanistan over decades of political change and war. Today, amid the ongoing conflict and insecurity in the country, local and international alpinists still try to restore a mountain tourism economy, while groups of Afghan women search for a sense of independence on the rugged granite peaks.
In this Off Belay story from Alpinist 61, Jerry Auld imagines a close encounter with the gears of a massive mechanical system lurching under the surface of a glacier. The tale was inspired by some of his glacier travel in which he once fell into a crevasse and from a 2013 ski circumnavigation of Mt. Logan in Canada's Kluane National Park. He writes, "When you are in the palm of such a setting, it is hard to not feel the importance of keeping these environments working. I wanted to tell that story—to visualize a wounded Earth that is starting to stall, and how tiny and bewildered we become in that situation."
In this story from Alpinist 61, Cole Taylor recounts his solo journey of sailing north along the Pacific coast from Washington, navigating miles of crevassed glaciers and pulling off the second ascent of the North Pillar of Devils Thumb (Taalkhunaxhk'u Shaa) with borrowed gear, 40 years after it was first done by Bob Plumb and Dave Stutzman.
In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 61, Editor-in-Chief Katie Ives ponders the legend of the "mountain of diamonds" in nineteenth-century American history and the obsession with the idea of hidden riches: "How quickly visions of distant summits turn into longings for conquest, exploitation and gain. But if an imaginary peak is a creation of desire, its elusiveness might also hint at more insubstantial or transcendent things."
In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 62, Editor-in-Chief Katie Ives contextualizes some of the life and work of the great Himalayan chronicler Elizabeth Hawley, who died January 26, 2018, at age 94. During her lifetime, Hawley became an icon for her fact-checking and record-keeping, aspects of journalism that remain as important as ever today.
In this story from Alpinist 62, "Adventures on the Turtle's Back," Joe Whittle, an enrolled tribal member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma and a descendent of the Delaware Nation, spends time in canyons and mountains that Indigenous people call home. Kanim Moses-Conner, Bobby Fossek, Len Necefer, Mia Ritter-Whittle and Brosnan Spencer join him on a shared journey to connect with the land and their Native American heritage in the Wal'wa-maXs, Oregon.
Selected letters to the editor from Alpinist 59, 61 and 62.