Weekly Feature Archives

Meditations of a Dreamer

Posted November 2, 2020

We're sharing this story early from the upcoming issue of Alpinist 72 because it pertains to policies that may change depending on the outcome of the presidential election on November 3. In this story from the Climbing Life section of Alpinist 72, Mauricio Portillo writes of how he arrived in the US when he was only four, as his parents sought a "safer place to raise a family," and how he and other "Dreamers" later benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), which gave them a "temporary stay from being deported to countries we hardly remember." Portillo grew up to become a high school teacher and a mountaineer, finding a sense of belonging on summits in the Pacific Northwest. Then in 2017 the Trump administration attempted to rescind the DACA program. In June 2020 the Supreme Court blocked the immediate canceling of the program, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing an opinion that the administration hadn't followed the correct procedure. Since then, the administration has stopped accepting new applications to the program, has begun requiring current DACA recipients to apply to renew their protections from deportation annually instead of every two years and has delivered ambiguous messages about the overall fate of Dreamers. (In contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised, if elected, to "send a bill to Congress creating a clear roadmap to citizenship for Dreamers"). "There are approximately 800,000 Dreamers in the US today," Portillo writes, "and our future often feels more uncertain than an alpine climb."

Water is Life

Posted October 5, 2020

In this Wired story from Alpinist 71—which is now available on some newsstands and in our online store—Dine climber Len Necefer journeys to the sacred peaks to find new ways to meld his ancestral cultural ceremonies and the mountain sports he loves while the world around him increasingly grapples with uncertainty and the threat of climate change.

Tool Users: Barometer

Posted September 21, 2020

What's a glass instrument measuring four feet long and filled with mercury doing in your rucksack? In this Tool Users story from Alpinist 71, Caroline Schaumann and Bruce Willey reveal the history of the glass barometer.

Local Hero: Khamsang Wangdi Sherpa

Posted September 10, 2020

In this Local Hero story that first appeared in Alpinist 71, Deepa Balsavar and Nandini Purandare recount the life of Khamsang Wangdi Sherpa, who was born in Nepal in 1932 and was ahead of his time when he started the Sherpa Guide School in 1966 near Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Balsavar and Purandare write, "A gentle and far-thinking man, Khamsang Wangdi Sherpa remains an unsung hero of mountaineering: a superb climber, teacher, leader and entrepreneur, and a compassionate soul. His story deserves to be told."

Beyond the Field Notes: Ed Roberson on Climbing and Poetry

Posted September 8, 2020

In this feature from Alpinist 71, Sarah Audsley interviews poet Ed Roberson. Born in 1939 in Pittsburgh, Roberson nurtured a burgeoning curiosity for the world from a young age. On his first major mountaineering expedition, he made the second ascent of Nevado Jangyaraju III (5450m) in Peru. Herein, Roberson discusses how his notes from the field came to shape some of his prize-winning work.

Of Monuments and Mountains

Posted September 2, 2020

In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 71—which is now on some newsstands and in our online store—Deputy Editor Paula Wright observes, "Today the phrase 'keep politics out of climbing' frequently pops up in online comments—as though by disregarding the larger context of our expeditions or by censoring certain facts, we might emerge onto a fantasy plane where the messy realities of our societies and the airy brilliance of an alpine summit never intersect. Yet we are living in a time of overlapping crises and movements that no one can ignore."

Wringing It Out

Posted July 17, 2020

In this story from The Climbing Life section of Alpinist 70, Spencer Gray experiences an unusual turn of events when he gets caught in the rain on a multipitch route while climbing with a less-experienced experienced partner.

Tool Users: Crack Climbing Gloves

Posted July 14, 2020

In this Tool Users story that first appeared in Alpinist 70—which is now available on some newsstands and in our online store—Mailee Hung considers the history, and the perceived absurdity, of crack climbing gloves.

Climbing Poems by Ed Roberson

Posted June 26, 2020

Ed Roberson is the author of many books of poetry, including To See the Earth before the End of the World. A dedicated mountain climber, Roberson traveled extensively throughout South America in the 1960s and '70s. He has received several awards for his work and has taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, and Northwestern University. His poems "Peru" and "The Age of the Climber" appeared in Alpinist 58 (2017) and Alpinist 67 (2019), respectively.


Posted June 20, 2020

In this feature story from Alpinist 70, Craig DeMartino writes about how he survived a hundred-foot ground fall in 2002. After doctors fused vertebrae in his back and neck, he decided to have his right leg amputated below the knee. He now mentors others who have suffered life-altering injuries, all while making the most of life with his wife and kids.

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